For disabled people there may be a need for special extra covers.
- cover for any medical costs that arise from your impairment - as many policies do not cover claims arising from 'pre-existing medical conditions'
- cover if an airline is unable to carry you for any reason, for example, a change of plane type to one that is not accessible
- cover for special equipment such as wheelchairs
It is important to declare your disability or illness when arranging insurance, even though standard travel insurance doesn’t cover any illness or health problem that existed or was diagnosed before your holiday began. The insurance company may ask for specific details, or your doctor may need to complete a form stating that you are fit to travel. You may be asked to sign a form stating that you are not awaiting treatment, for example.
If you need to take expensive disability equipment with you, make sure that it is insured for loss or damage. Mobility aids – including wheelchairs and scooters - are unlikely to be covered by standard travel insurance policies. You may have to pay an extra premium. Sometimes your household insurance may provide cover for these items.
Most insurance companies offer cover to disabled people that meet their needs. Some insurers do not cover people who have a severe medical condition or a history of mental illness. You may need to arrange cover with a specialist insurer. A specialist insurer may be right for you if you are travelling outside the UK for a long period of time.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 aims to end the discrimination that many disabled people face. Part 3 of the Act relates to ‘service providers’ which includes insurance and travel companies providing services within the UK. Companies have a duty to make sure that, as a disabled customer, you are not unjustifiably treated less favourably than other customers for a reason related to your disability. The DDA states that it is against the law to refuse to provide a service to a disabled person, which would be provided to other members of the public.
However, the law allows insurers to differentiate between disabled and non-disabled people. They may charge a higher premium if they can show that it is a greater risk to insure a disabled person than a non-disabled person. The insurance company must be able to justify this difference by using accurate, relevant and reliable information and ‘evidence’.
For specialist companies it is also worth checking out those who specialise in travellers with pre- existing conditions.