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Which? slams travel insurers' medical get-out clauses

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People who develop new medical conditions after buying travel insurance are being let down by insurers’ get-out clauses, says Which Travel?.

 

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 claim.

 

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.

Travel insurance news: 13 January 2012