Buying travel insurance can be both costly and stressful, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Insurers will often increase premiums, apply exclusions and may in some cases refuse cover altogether.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced a proposal to help consumers with a pre-existing medical condition gain access to better travel insurance deals.
The FCA has estimated that up to 14.1 million consumers that live with a pre-existing medical condition attempt to get travel insurance each year and based on their research, around 1.5 million of those will have an exclusion applied for their pre-existing medical condition. A further 100,000 would be declined cover entirely.
What are the new proposed travel insurance guidelines?
The FCA is looking to introduce a new 'signposting' rule. This means that if insurers cannot offer cover they have to 'signpost' (recommend) other insurers that can. The insurers will have to signpost customers in the following instances:
- If cover has been declined or cancelled mid-term due to a pre-existing medical condition
- If cover has been offered but with an exclusion for a pre-existing medical condition that cannot be removed
- If cover has been offered but with an additional high cost to their premium due to their pre-existing medical condition
In addition, providers will have to give details to consumers about the travel insurance market and information on pre-existing medical conditions. The information provided to consumers will highlight the risks and implications of travelling without travel insurance and the potential medical costs based on the country of travel.
Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA said:
‘We want to reduce the numbers of consumers, who are currently faced with a choice of not travelling or travelling without insurance, and running the risk of incurring significant costs, including medical bills abroad.
‘The changes proposed today will be an important step in helping people to navigate the market more easily and also in reducing the number of customers who are over-paying significantly for travel insurance.’
The FCA is continuing to review the proposals until 15th September 2019 before publishing the final guidelines.
How can I save on travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition?
1 - Shop around
2 - Talk to someone over the phone
On a website the medical screening is computerised. Calling an insurance provider gives you the opportunity to explain your condition over the phone.
3 - Have a joint policy
Some insurers offer couple/multi-member discounts.
4 - Check the destination
Medical cover costs vary by destination as well as the trip length. You may be able to save a significant amount of money by changing the holiday destination. For example, if you are travelling to the USA, insurance premiums are generally higher due to their privatised health care.
5 - Take out a single trip policy
An insurer is more likely to accept cover for shorter periods of time if you have a pre-existing medical condition, compared to covering your medical condition for a 12 month period (due to the level of risk).
6 - Have an EHIC card if travelling within the EU
An EHIC card allows access to state-provided healthcare in countries within the EU and Switzerland. It is advisable to have an EHIC card as well as travel insurance as it does not cover for delays, cancellations or lost luggage etc. (EHIC cards will not be valid after 31st October 2019 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal)
For more information on travel insurance read our article: Do you need travel insurance for a ‘staycation’ and how to get the best deal
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