Today’s news media has covered the stories of those who have suffered serious, life-threatening illnesses and then – despite having the all-clear – find it impossible to obtain travel insurance at a reasonable cost. The FCA stated that they are looking at ways to direct consumers with pre-existing medical conditions to specialist travel insurance companies.
In an era of AI-powered online checks, digital sharing of medical records and sophisticated analysis of any medications that a patient may be taking, it should be possible for specialised brokers and underwriters to weigh the risks involved. Meanwhile, here is the Association of British Insurers official response;
Head of Conduct Regulation at the Association of British Insurers, Raluca Boroianu-Omura, said:
“Travel insurers aim to provide protection to as many people as possible and, as the FCA has recognised, cover is widely available for people with a range of long-term and serious health conditions. There are specialist insurers and brokers who can help people with health conditions access appropriate insurance, and we’ve previously worked alongside charities such as Macmillan to help provide practical advice for consumers.
We’re always open to considering other ways of helping people understand and find the right cover for them and will continue to work with the FCA, other industry and consumer bodies, following today’s proposals.
“The main purpose of travel insurance is to cover the cost of emergency medical treatment overseas, with insurers paying out medical claims worth around £200 million a year. This means a person’s medical history is particularly relevant when they are buying cover.”
Why does your medical history matter to your travel insurer?
Medical claims account for the largest proportion of travel insurance claims paid, amounting to £200million a year. While the average medical claim is around £1,300, costs can be in the tens of thousands for complicated treatments in countries outside Europe. Where a higher premium is charged, it could be because, based on the information available to the insurer, the customer is more likely to need medical treatment while they’re away, and/or that treatment is more likely to be expensive. Your health is not the only thing that affects your travel insurance premium – the destination you’re travelling to and the type of holiday you’re taking can also make a difference.
How can I find affordable travel insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
– When planning and budgeting for your trip away, factor in the cost of travel insurance from the beginning.
– Finding appropriate cover that will pay out if the worst happens is very important so be prepared to spend time shopping around. Lots of consumer groups have helpful advice on finding travel insurance; you should also consider seeking recommendations from people you know who may be in the same circumstances.
– There are specialist insurers who are more experienced in covering people with medical conditions so make sure you seek them out, either directly or with the help of a specialist broker.
– Some locations and types of holiday are often more expensive to cover, so consider alternatives to these. For instance, insurance for trips in Europe is likely to be cheaper than going to the Americas; cover for cruises can be more expensive because of the difficulty of transporting patients to hospital.
– You may find it’s cheaper to buy cover just for the duration of a particular trip, rather than buying cover for a whole year.
Above all, remember to provide all relevant information when applying for travel insurance. Holding information back from your insurer could leave you without the cover you need if you do fall ill.
Check out our full guide on buying travel insurance here.