Why honesty is your best (insurance) policy

By Pippa Thompson

For anyone who’s had a health problem, a relaxing holiday is often just what the doctor ordered. The problem is that having a pre-existing medical condition can make it more difficult to find travel insurance – and it can often be more expensive too.

As a result, some travellers decide not to declare their medical conditions when applying for insurance, without really realising the consequences. In fact, research shows that as many as one in 20 people have hidden a medical condition from an insurer.

What might seem like a fairly innocuous way of saving some money actually puts people in danger of having to pay out large sums of cash – sometimes tens of thousands of pounds – if they then need to make a claim while abroad.

Another problem faced is that lots of people don’t realise what information they need to share, and what actually constitutes a pre-existing condition. In a nutshell, it’s anything that you’ve received a diagnosis or take prescribed drugs for, although individual travel insurers have their own definition and will set this out in their ‘Medical Declaration.’

However, nearly a quarter of people think they only need to tell their insurer about any conditions for which they are currently receiving treatment. Actually, you’ll usually need to declare any condition you’ve suffered in the last two years, and if you have a cardiovascular or circulatory condition you’ll need to disclose this regardless of how much time has passed since your diagnosis.

While it can seem unfair that those with pre-existing conditions have to pay more, from an insurers point of view you are higher risk, and medical treatment abroad can be very costly.

In America in particular medical bills can run into tens of thousands of pounds, but even within the EU, a broken hip in Spain will set you back £10,000 for hospital bills and return flights. It’s no surprise that 78 per cent of people admitted they couldn’t afford to pay the medical bill of a loved one taken into hospital abroad.

Taking all this into account, glossing over medical conditions on your insurance application puts you at huge risk. Not only does it mean you won’t be able to claim for any treatment that’s related to your condition, but there’s a strong chance that you risk losing cover for any ailments that could be linked too.

For example, if you were to faint and injure yourself while on holiday but hadn’t declared that you have high blood pressure, treatment may not be covered on your insurance. Similarly, if you were to suffer an unrelated injury but your medical condition made treatment more complicated, your insurer could refuse to pay out.

Even more worryingly, the Financial Ombudsman Service says that an insurer could reasonably reject a claim, even if it has nothing to do with a pre-existing condition, so long as they can show that they would not have allowed the policy to be taken out in the first place if the condition had been disclosed. Hiding medical conditions from your insurer just isn’t worth it.

The good news is that there are specialist insurers, like Fish Insurance, whose policies are specifically aimed at people with pre-existing conditions or disabilities. Fish policies are specially designed and cover most medical conditions such as epilepsy, cancers, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, angina and other heart complaints.

Because these policies have been created specifically to serve to people with pre-existing medical conditions, they provide specific benefits such as the emergency replacement of prescription medicines or a carer.

Above all, it’s important to disclose all of the relevant details when taking out travel insurance, and answer all questions as honestly as you can. Remember that if you receive a diagnosis in between taking out insurance and travelling, you’d need to call your insurer and discuss your options.

Fish Insurance is one of the UK’s biggest insurance providers for people with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions.

If you have any questions or would like more information, call the Fish team on 0333 331 3755, or visit fishinsurance.co.uk.


About the author

At Fish Insurance, all 80,000 policies it looks after have been specifically designed to meet the unique and specific requirements of people with pre-existing medical conditions, disabilities or mobility issues.

It is a great believer in making sure there are no surprises or frustrations for you – the customers. It likes to keep things simple and ensure there is clarity in what they do.

It is here to give you the peace of mind and the independence you need in an already complicated world. It understands that looking for insurance isn’t the most exciting prospect, so it does what it does, so you can get on with what you want to do.

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