If there's one thing that really frustrates me it's when holidaymakers leave the UK for a bit of sunshine or adventure and then get hoodwinked by travel insurance policies.
I'm not trying to initiate a blame-game or attack insurance companies, as without insurance we'd all be a great deal worse off. But, I do wish we were all more aware of the insurance traps we can fall into.
There are a few simple tips that every holidaymaker needs to know which I'd like to share.
Many of us start with good intentions and are buying travel insurance for our holiday but we can unwittingly fall into a trap by simply failing to declare medical conditions from the past (even from childhood in some cases!) or even worse, don't realise what has to be declared to the insurance company and this is where the trouble begins.
By getting this wrong, innocent and diligent people are potentially voiding their travel cover meaning they could come unstuck on holiday. Not something that makes me happy.
"No! I am 100% healthy. No pre-existing medical conditions here."
I've seen it time and time again when talking to customers on the phone. When taking them through their travel insurance quote I have to ask if they have any pre-existing medical conditions. Most often, the answer is a resounding "no". That is, until I reel off a list of potential conditions and it turns out in actual fact the customer does have a condition they need to declare!
As with many of my customers, you might be surprised to discover that asthma, chronic bronchitis and even some allergies are classed as pre-existing medical conditions and you aren't covered unless you tell your insurer about them. But if you didn't know that, you're definitely not alone. I recently conducted a survey on this very issue and it turns out 40% of us in the UK just don't realise these have to be declared to an insurer.
The consequences for making such a small error can be crippling. If you are taken ill on holiday, depending on the condition, you could see yourself being charged thousands and even hundreds of thousands of pounds for medical treatment and the cost of being flown home could cost up to £45,000 just for the ride!
So, to help me sleep at night, I've highlighted 4 ways you can make sure you don't get caught out by the small-print. Please humour me and read on:
1. Always declare asthma and allergies on travel insurance applications
Around 40% of us Brits don't realise that breathing conditions (eg. asthma and chronic bronchitis) have to be declared on a travel insurance policy. However, most insurers need to know about these illnesses - even if they were diagnosed years ago or you're no longer experiencing symptoms or having treatment.
Where allergies are concerned, disclose all allergies to your insurer (including food allergies) but be particularly careful if you have anaphylaxis, especially if you carry an 'EPI' pen. This would need to be covered if you required treatment for an allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock whilst on holiday.
2. Don't treat your EHIC card as an alternative to travel insurance
Almost 1 in 10 travellers in our recent research wrongly think that their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) means they don't need travel insurance.
In reality, the card only covers necessary medical treatment from state healthcare providers, which isn't always free. It doesn't cover repatriation if you need to be flown home and it won't pay out for baggage, cancellation, missed flights or other expenses.
So if you're travelling, carry your EHIC with you AND buy travel insurance.
3. Tell your insurer about any medication you take
Few of us realise it, but we should tell our travel insurer about any medication we are currently taking, for any medical issue whatsoever.
I don't know anyone who has a perfect medical history, so if you're being prescribed medication to control or treat a current or previous medical condition, you need to tell your insurer what you're taking - and why. If you don't, this could invalidate your policy in the event of a claim.
4. Travelling while pregnant? Declare any past complications
A whopping 80% of us don't realise women need to tell their travel insurer about any previous pregnancy complications, if travelling while pregnant again.
Although pregnancy isn't a pre-existing medical condition and doesn't need to be disclosed on a travel insurance policy, past complications do. Over 250,000 women have suffered pregnancy complications (eg. miscarriage, gestational diabetes) which are classed as pre-existing medical conditions and must be disclosed to a travel insurer if they want to travel while pregnant in the future.
And so you are in no doubt at all about what sort of things you need to mention on your travel insurance application form, here is my top 10 list of past and current medical conditions which people most often don't think to declare:
2. High Blood Pressure
3. High Cholesterol
4. Skin Cancer
5. Heart Attack
6. Prostate Cancer
7. Blood Clots
10. Breast Cancer