A new service that redirects people with specialist travel insurance needs, such as cover for cancer and pre-existing medical conditions, to appropriate providers is to be set up.
City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), is to work with the industry to create the new service following concerns that consumers find it difficult to access specialist travel insurance.
A call for evidence found that there is a lack of quality information on alternative options available to people who have been given an expensive quote or refused cover altogether. The evidence gathering also found that there was a lack of transparency with regards to pricing.
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA comments: “People with pre-existing medical conditions feel poorly served by travel insurance. There are specialist services out there, but often people don’t know where to find them. We’ll work with industry to point people in the right direction and help dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings to ensure this market works better.
“This will also form part of our continuing work on insurance pricing practices which are designed to lead to long-term positive changes across the market.”
Melissa Collett, professional standards director at the Chartered Insurance Institute, welcomes the move. She adds: “We welcome the regulator’s call to improve access to insurance for people with cancer and other health problems.
“One in three people living in the UK are likely to get cancer at some point in their lives and it is absurd that this large group are prevented from travelling because they cannot get insurance or worse, forced to risk travelling without it. Many people living with cancer and those in remission live healthy and full lives and we should be doing all we can to support them in this.”
Proposals ‘don’t go far enough’
However, Macmillan Cancer support’s executive director of policy and impact, Fran Woodard, doesn’t believe the FCA’s plan goes far enough. She says: “We welcome commitments today from the FCA to work with providers to make it easier for people with cancer to find suitable travel insurance, but we are disappointed that these proposals do not go even further. Improved signposting will only benefit people with cancer if, at the end of it, there is fair and affordable cover available.
“As holidaymakers look forward to a summer break, thousands who have ever had cancer – even 10 years ago – continue to be penalised by ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies. People with cancer deserve the same chance to enjoy a relaxing, restorative time away without worrying about extortionate premiums or travelling without cover. Yet, our support line has already had nearly 900 calls about travel insurance since January.
“No two cancer experiences are the same and if travel insurers want to meet the need for people with cancer, they must update their oversimplified medical screening to reflect this. We are concerned that, despite these proposals, many will still be faced with limited choice and disproportionately high premiums.”
James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at disability charity Scope, adds: “Vast numbers of disabled people are forced to pay huge insurance premiums or denied cover altogether. Scope’s research shows more than a third of disabled adults have worried about paying their insurance premiums.
“Disabled people face an unacceptable lack of transparency around pricing, which raises serious questions about whether risk is being fairly accessed. The Financial Conduct Authority needs to investigate this issue urgently to ensure disabled people can access fair, affordable insurance like everyone else.”
Travel insurance with pre existing conditions
I have been declined travel insurance on the basis that I cannot prove when my Heart Murmur was first diagnosed