A raft of changes to the travel insurance industry will now make it easier and less costly for travellers with health issues to get cover.
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has today (Feburary 5) announced the introduction of new advice which will help people with pre-existing medical conditions navigate the market.
The addition of a series of new rules and guidelines have been launched in a bid to reduce the number of uninsured travellers and the number of customers who are significantly overpaying for cover.
As part of the changes, all travel insurance firms will now have to signpost customers with pre-existing conditions to a directory of specialist providers who can offer cover.
Firms that refuse to insure customers with health conditions, or offer cover that excludes the condition, will also be required to inform them if and how exclusions can be removed.
And now, insurers will also be expected to assess the risk from medical conditions and calculate premiums using reliable information.
This is to ensure customers are quoted a fair premium which also properly covers their circumstances and cover needs.
The move comes after a consultation by the FCA with travel insurance customers with existing health conditions.
They found that many have problems finding affordable cover, and that many were declined, or only offered cover that excluded their condition, or offered cover at a hefty premium.
Gareth Shaw, Head of Money, Which?, said: “This much-needed action from the FCA could save holidaymakers with medical conditions huge sums by directing them to the most affordable policies that best meet their needs. For too long we have heard from consumers left struggling to find suitable cover – so this is a crucial intervention.
“The FCA must now apply rigorous criteria to ensure only the companies offering appropriate travel insurance appear on the directory – and to review its effectiveness in providing the affordable and suitable policies that those with medical conditions desperately need.”
It is estimated one in five people require insurance that provide cover for an existing condition, which in many cases is much more expensive.
And that's if they are even offered cover in the first place.
And many will travel on a standard travel insurance policy as they consider their condition too minor to disclose.
But travellers that don't buy the correct insurance for their trip, as failing to do so could nullify cover -something that could leave travellers liable for costs should the worst happen.
For people with pre-existing medical conditions, the cover works in the the same way as insurance for typical travellers.
The only exception is that it also covers the cost of care for any medical condition you may have had in the past or you suffer from currently - which is what bumps up the cost compared to standard cover.
Pre-existing travel insurance premiums range significantly depending on the condition and the age of the individual and each insurer will have their own list of conditions it considers serious.
Even common conditions such as asthma, allergies and high blood pressure all need to be declared or risk voiding the policy and the customer being forced to cover costs.
Firms offering retail travel insurance must implement the new requirements by November 5, 2020.
The FCA is also planning to produce information on pre-existing medical conditions and the implications of travelling without the correct cover.