People who develop new medical conditions after
buying travel insurance are being let down by insurers’ get-out clauses, says
Nearly a third of people who told their travel
insurer about a new medical condition that had developed after they took out a
policy had to pay a higher premium or had their cover removed due to ongoing
medical warranties in the policies.
Once customers have bought a policy, many travel insurers
include what is known as ongoing medical warranties or change in risk clauses
that can give them a get out if they decide they no longer want to insure the
customer - even if the medical advice is
that they still can travel.
One Which? Travel member took out insurance for a
trip to the USA with Staysure but three weeks before he was due to travel he
was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukaemia. His doctor told him he was fit
to travel but when he informed Staysure he was told that, on top of his
original £118.41 policy, he’d have to pay £925.63 or cancel his trip and make a
Another member took out annual insurance with
InsureandGo but was diagnosed with an early stage of skin cancer a couple of
weeks before he was due to travel to Los Angeles. His doctor also said he was
fit to travel but InsureandGo said it would not cover him for the new
condition, or for other conditions the policy had originally covered.
These cases are happening even though the
Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) ruled several years ago that it was generally
not fair for insurers to refuse to cover new medical conditions that arose
between the customer buying the policy and the start of the trip. The FOS said
it would only be reasonable for an insurer to do this if the new condition was
such a big change that the risk being insured became completely different.
Which Travel? believes consumers should not be
left in a position where their doctor says they are fit to travel but they face
a choice of paying extra for the same policy, travelling with no insurance, or
facing a last-minute attempt to find a replacement policy.
Not all insurance firms include ongoing medical warranties in their
policies. Which? found policies with Axa Insurance, Freedom Travel Insurance
and Miaonline.co.uk that did not. In these policies, if a customer develops a
new condition after buying the policy, the insurers advise them to check with
their doctor if they are still fit to travel.