Make sure you get the right travel insurance policy for you
When you travel abroad it’s absolutely essential that you take out insurance - you never know when you might need it.
But people with serious, pre-existing conditions might fall through the gaps in their insurance policies that could leave them forking out in a big way.
The worst thing that can happen is you take ill, or an existing condition deteriorates quickly, and you need urgent medical care in a foreign country only to discover you’re going to have to foot the bill yourself.
Which? contacted various insurance firms and found that quotes for seven fictitious women, all declaring a form of cancer that had been treated within the past one to five years, varied massively.
This is why it always pays to shop around for the best deals on the market.
Just go to A Spokesman Said to find a good deal for you.
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A statement from Which? reads: “When we compared costs, we found that prices varied enormously depending on where we looked, the age and the destination: £114.63 – biggest price difference for a week in France 107% – average increase using a leading comparison site vs a specialist using an alternative screening system called Protectif 76% – average jump in premiums when we changed destination to Spain 113% – average jump in premiums when we changed our age from 58 to 75 £1,021 – most expensive premium for a week in France if awaiting cancer treatment.”
These huge costs can lead to people travelling without insurance, or without declaring their full medical history or, worst case scenario, they cancel their trips.
Jean Masters, 74 from London, has had breast cancer twice, the last occurrence being in 2006. She says that although her current annual policy costs £205, she received quotes as high as £700.
She said: “I haven’t taken cancer-related drugs for three years.
“For some companies I can now legitimately say “no” to the cancer-related questions, while for others I can’t. This has an impact both on whether they’ll insure me, and on how much I pay.”
This endless confusion comes despite the fact the government regulator has outlined plans to make it easier for those declaring serious medical conditions to find travel cover.
The way most insurers come to their quotes is by using medical screening software from a company called Verisk, which generates a medical risk score.
This requires you to answer the same set of questions every time you shop around for a better deal, going company to company in the hope of a cheaper offer.
But you have to update your insurance company if any new medical issues come to light, and they will then usually re-screen you and offer you a new policy.
Normally, the customer is then presented with three options:
- increase the premium or the excess
- exclude the condition
- withdraw cover entirely
A spokesperson for Axa, which also underwrites AA travel insurance, says: “All we require is that they consult a doctor and not travel against their advice if their health changes during the policy period.
This has been our stance for a considerable time now, and we feel it’s an important part of our service.”
Dr K Shastri, CEO of InsureCancer says: “Cancer patients are aware that they may be at risk of relapse or progression and therefore need certainty of cover.
Our customers know that once their case has been individually underwritten by us, they have certainty that can rely on our policy.”