It is one of the great bugbears of the travel insurance sector, and a source of many complaints, as holidaymakers find themselves denied treatment abroad after failing to disclose medical conditions/history in minute detail to insurers.
Can the problem be solved once and for all? Certainly a new ‘Action Group’ comprising leading medical charities, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and AllClear Travel Insurance, thinks so, after getting together to help those with serious pre-existing medical conditions access travel insurance.
The Group, formed at a Roundtable event organised and hosted by AllClear, is creating an action plan for the charity and travel insurance sectors to improve the understanding and accessibility of travel insurance to customers with pre-existing medical conditions.
It will also help to create better signposting and improve customer understanding of the type of insurance available. Increasing the transparency of exclusions within travel insurance policies, specifically within mass market and packaged bank accounts is a further goal.
Charities serving a wide range of medical conditions attended the event, including Kidney Care UK Dialysis Freedom, Diabetes UK, the Stroke Association and the Royal Free Hospital Kidney Patients Association.
Chris Rolland, CEO of AllClear Travel Insurance, says that one in five people travel without travel insurance and it is a major concern: “Medical travel insurance claims can reach hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds. A night in a US hospital can easily cost £10,000 and it is vital these costs are understood and correctly weighed against the risk of travelling without cover,” he says. “It was clear from the Roundtable that charities want to help inform their beneficiaries and supporters and want this information to come from industry experts.”
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) said it receives 550,000 enquiries per year from people requiring help to access specialist insurance.
“It is important that charities and industry work together to help improve consumer understanding, signposting and transparency of pricing,” says Leighann Forsyth, Deputy Head of Communications at BIBA. “The number of calls we receive is evidence of these issues, but most concerning are those that don’t know how to access specialist brokers and potentially travel without cover.”
Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, says: “Every week we hear from patients asking us about travel insurance and providers, worried about the costs and confused about how insurance works for people with kidney disease. Many patients simply don’t understand why their insurance quotes are so high and or what is covered. More worrying is that patients may be travelling without insurance. We’re delighted to be part of this Action Group and look forward to helping insurers understand the complexity of a condition like kidney disease and helping patients understand how they can get the best out of travel insurance.”
Verisk Risk Rating, a leading medical risk assessment provider to the travel insurance industry, was also at the forum and explained how its software is able to paint a detailed picture of risk, assessing the severity of a customer’s medical condition/s and the impact of destination and length of trip.
“We have been analysing medical travel insurance risk since 1999, working with AllClear since day one, and have worked hard to obtain a level of detail that is required by insurers and is not unnecessarily arduous for the consumer,” says Paul Beven, Managing Director of Verisk Risk Rating.
“The forum was very useful, and I welcome the further collaboration between ourselves and charities to support the best outcomes for travellers with medical conditions.”