Everyone knows just how important it is to have travel insurance in place before you head off on your holidays, but far fewer of us know how easy it can be to unwittingly invalidate our cover
The situation has arisen because many insurers are now imposing harsher rules regarding pre-existing medical conditions and the ways in which these can lead to insurance not being offered, premiums being raised and claims being turned down. But just as the rules are being tightened, so too are insurers doing their best to spell out the changes that are being made. Many firms have since declared what cover you need to ensure that when applying for insurance they offer the best cover they possibly can.
Hopefully what follows will give you a clearer picture of the pitfalls, and how you can avoid them…
Tell the truth
It’s a widely accepted fact that all kinds of insurance, not just travel cover, has restrictions on pre-existing conditions but many insurers now want far more detailed information. For example a number now demand details of all recent visits to the doctor, even if all the person is suffering from is a common cold. Failure to provide this information can lead to the insurance being voided.
If you have an annual policy you should also be aware of your responsibility to let your insurer know about any conditions that arise after the policy has come into force. Depending on its nature they may well raise the premium but, by not telling them, there’s a risk that it could invalidate the policy completely.
Don’t just read the small print
And, unfortunately, just relying on the fact that a policy’s terms and conditions don’t specifically exclude cover for pre-existing illnesses it doesn’t mean you’re insured. That’s because all usually require you to confirm that you’re healthy and to actually declare pre-existing conditions.
Follow medical advice
Many policies go even further than this and will only remain valid if you have followed medical advice for travel to a particular country, for example by having the recommended inoculations for that part of the world. Not surprisingly, travelling against medical advice will also void most insurance.
If this all sounds very daunting and worrying, it needn’t be. Some insurers do have a more open attitude to pre-existing conditions, although they are very much in the minority. But one thing all insurers do have in common is that they want to offer cover if they possibly can. The best way of ensuring that theirs is right for you is being open and honest with them from the outset. Then, if it does ever come to making a claim, there should be no nasty surprises lying in wait for you.