Potential travellers with medical conditions frequently pay more for their travel insurance. There are two main reasons:
- Increased risk of having to cancel the trip due to a deterioration in medical condition. Importantly, changes in medical conditions, even if insufficient to warrant cancellation, must be declared to the insurance provider who may amend terms required. Such eventualities, in the interest of fairness, should permit the policyholder to cancel the insurance with some premium refund.
- Increased risk of requiring treatment abroad (with the attending expenses), due to the medical condition.
Interestingly, far more is reimbursed to cover cancellation costs than medical expenses. Although when they occur the cost per medical expenses claim is substantially more, the frequency of cancellation claims means the total cost is higher.
The maximum benefit under travel insurance to cover expenses arising out of medical conditions is often promoted as an exceptional policy benefit. This is misleading. There hasn't been a claim for medical conditions exceeding £1,000,000 so quoting £5,000,000, £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 is irrelevant. £2,000,000 should be quite sufficient.
The requirement to disclose medical conditions does not fall solely on those intending travel. Near relatives whose sudden deterioration in health would warrant curtailment of the trip also need to be considered. This is a fact of which very few people are aware, unless through diligent reading of the insurance policy prior to purchase.
We do not recommend that medical conditions be hidden, nor that, given the option, cover be voluntarily refused. Medical screening is relatively sophisticated and by the evident nature of travel insurance, the costs possibly incurred due to needing treatment are overwhelming compared to the additional premiums quoted - everyone has cognisance of well-published cases in the press of people needing to sell their houses to pay for transportation home after a severe injury.
How do insurance companies deal with medical conditions?
There are several options.
- Exclude all medical conditions - sometimes seen on internet-rated policies (not ours!) Premiums are reduced as there is no additional liability and the insurer doesn't have to use resources handling screening of conditions.
- Specify which medical conditions are covered automatically. Quite often found online through direct insurers. The advantages are that the list is there. The disadvantages are that purchasers may not see the list or, having seen it, think their medical condition is covered when it actually is excluded.
- Online medical screening. The customer is asked questions about their conditions, medication and general health on the web-page and a final 'score' is produced resulting in the premium reflecting the risk. The process can be complex, there is no flexibility. However it is cheaper overall than having well-trained staff.
- Medical screening line. Trained staff ask questions about the medical conditions and quote an additional premium/ excess depending on the underwriter's philosophy. This is the most flexible method, albeit relatively expensive and this is reflected in premiums.
When medical conditions are considered, underwriters set parameters defining which can be covered and at what terms.
The medical screening tools normally return a value indicating the severity of
the conditions disclosed. It is up to the underwriter to decide what terms to
apply for each value and a maximum value beyond which the risk is uninsurable. Most companies will exclude travellers with a terminal illness - some extend cover if the traveller is expected to live 6 months or more from the return to the UK - or for medical holidays (travelling to obtain treatment abroad). One company that includes terminal illness's is GoodToGo Insurance which covers anyone of any age for up to three months.
Medical conditions on the quote options online use online medical screening
tools. (Different ones, although there are not many commercially available tools
for medical screening. - Customers wanting to discuss their medical conditions (or who can't obtain a quote to cover their specific medical condition) may try our travel insurance quotation system which provides readily available contact numbers for the appropriate telephone medical screening.
Or, as usual, we recommend contacting us on 01207 509446 and we
can discuss the various options.