New rules could help people with medical conditions get cheaper travel insurance

10 February 2020

The financial watchdog is calling on insurers to make travel insurance more affordable for people with pre-existing conditions.


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has introduced new rules to help people with pre-existing medical conditions (PEMCs) find cheaper travel insurance.

People with PEMCs often struggle to find travel insurance, even if they are fit to travel. They also face significantly higher premiums from insurers willing to offer a policy.

Under the new rules, insurers will be required to ‘signpost’ customers with PEMCs to specialist firms in the following circumstances:

  • When a customer is declined cover or has cover cancelled due to a PEMC
  • When a PEMC is excluded from a travel policy
  • When a customer will have to pay more for travel cover because of their PEMC

Insurers will have to implement these requirements by 5 November 2020.

The government-backed Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) will create an online directory which will list providers that specialise in protecting travellers with serious medical conditions.

Firms will be required to include details of the directory on their website within 30 days of It going live – which is expected by the end of summer 2020.

Around 14.1 million customers with PEMCs seek out travel insurance policies each year.

Of these 11% settle for a policy which does not cover their condition and 0.7% are declined for cover altogether, according to the FCA.

People with serious medical conditions could save around 40% on travel premiums by switching to a specialist provider, the FCA estimates.  

Eve Byrne, head of campaigns at Macmillan Cancer Support says that while the new rules are essential for travellers with PEMCs, the travel insurance industry needs to do more.

The insurance market must change its approach to covering people with pre-existing conditions to ensure that people living with cancer can access a competitive range of options that appropriately meet their needs,” she says.  

Hugh Savill, director of regulation at the Association of British Insurers says: “The vast majority of consumers can obtain travel insurance, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.

“While we welcome the FCA’s changes to strengthen the current signposting measures, the £100 premium loading trigger must be carefully and thoroughly worked through to ensure that it delivers real customer benefits and makes the buying process as smooth as possible.”

How to find cheap travel insurance

If you have a pre existing medical condition, the following tips could help you cut the cost of your travel insurance premium.

1. Buy early

It’s important to buy your travel insurance as early as possible.

Sorting travel cover when you have a pre-existing condition can be a lengthy process so it’s best to start your application early.

Travel insurance also covers any unexpected incidents before you go on your trip.

So, if you have to make any cancellations before going away, having a policy in place can help ensure you can recoup your costs.  

2. Shop around

Price comparison websites are a great place to start your travel insurance search.

They allow you compare hundreds of deals quickly and will give you an idea of the types of the deals available.

3. Try a specialist insurer or broker

If you have a serious medical condition or are unable to find suitable deals from mainstream insurers it may be worth trying specialist insurance providers or using a broker.

The British Insarance Brokers' Association (Biba) can help you contact the right broker in order to find a suitable travel policy. 

4. Read the terms and conditions carefully

Before buying an insurance policy it’s vital that you read the terms and conditions.

Insurance small print is notoriously tricky to understand so if you have any questions, get in touch with the provider for clarification.

Once you agree to the terms of a policy, making a claim will be impossible for things that are expressly excluded.

This could result in you having to pay more to cover the cost for any unforeseen incidents which aren’t covered, in addition to the policy itself.


Travel Insurance - tip of the iceberg

Expensive travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions is the tip of the iceberg. Traditionally ANY type of insurance policy had a few pages with a separate page for 'exclusions'. Our most recent insurance had a 3 page policy and 54 pages of conditions and exclusions. It's more ridiculous than the seeming inability to distinguish between available credit and income.

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