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How to find insurance you’re a ‘high-risk’ traveller

·5-min read
<p>Age and/or pre-existing conditions could mean you have to shell out to secure a policy </p> (iStock)

Age and/or pre-existing conditions could mean you have to shell out to secure a policy

(iStock)

It has been a long time coming but finally, the summer of (a bit more) freedom is here.

The Portugal debacle notwithstanding, we’re embracing the chance the travel, even if it is mostly within our own shores for now.

But as we settle in to a new normal some of the old restrictions are coming back to haunt us – not least when it comes to insuring that summer break.

“We went into 2020 as a normal, healthy family that could pick up cheap travel insurance quickly,” says Kate MacKenzie, from Somerset. “We never gave it much thought. Then, during the first lockdown, my husband was diagnosed with an incurable form of leukaemia out of the blue.

“As well as everything else that was going on he became uninsurable overnight. He’s still in his thirties but we will now struggle for all kinds of insurance, including travel cover, for the rest of his life. These days, the travel restrictions don’t bother us as much trying to find affordable cover for a much needed break does.”

The MacKenzie family is far from alone. If you’re aged over 60 or have a pre-existing health condition, you may be charged more or not offered a travel insurance policy at all, but there are still options available if you want protection.

The summer is almost here and after more than a year of lockdowns, millions of UK holidaymakers are set to escape and visit the foreign countries letting them in.

But summer holidays are not what they once were thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and if you do have a trip booked, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the government’s announcements which are prone to change at the last minute.

This uncertainty means it’s more important than ever to make sure you (and your holiday) are as protected as possible.

Travel insurance is designed to pay out if something goes wrong, which can include the cost of medical treatment or a lost suitcase, but you may also have a policy that covers you for Covid-related cancellations.

You don’t need to look very far to find cheap travel insurance, with some single trip policies costing less than a new pot of sun cream, but these prices and policies aren’t for everyone.

As soon as you reach an older age – which in the insurance world starts from around 60 – prices begin to creep upwards. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you’ll also be paying more than most as well.

This is because insurers deem these consumers as being more of a risk of claiming on a policy.

This is not something reserved for a small group of travellers either. According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), there are between 12.6 and 14.1 million people who buy travel insurance every year who have a pre-existing condition.

The advice is always to get a policy before you travel, or as soon as you’ve booked, but it’s also important to look at why someone would travel without insurance.

This could be a person who is terminally ill and has their dream holiday booked, for example, or a pensioner making a last trip to see their family, who has chosen to take the chance of nothing going wrong and to travel without cover.

The consequences of travelling without insurance can’t be stressed enough. Aside from the cost of replacing lost or stolen belongings, what will really be an issue if the cost of medical treatment or repatriation back to the UK.

However, there are options and specialist help is available if you’re struggling to find a policy. New rules, which came into force in April from the FCA, now mean it should be easier for these travellers to find insurance.

An insurer must direct consumers to a directory of specialist providers, such as the one from the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) for the following reasons: if it can’t give you a quote, charges you an extra £100 or more because of a medication condition, cancels a policy because of the condition, or if it offers a policy with a medical exclusion that can’t be removed.

Pam Quinn, spokesperson for BIBA, said: “Having pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities does not mean that overseas travel should be impossible because of the need for travel insurance; however it is essential that insurance that provides suitable insurance is bought.

“It’s very important for anyone buying travel insurance to be clear about any medical condition. Specialist providers can discuss the condition(s) and can often find an insurance solution in the most challenging of circumstances meaning that many people can make the trips they have dreamed of.”

Specialist providers provide bespoke policies and should be able to give you advice on how to find the right protection while a medical professional, such as your GP, can also help.

As with all insurance, it’s always worth checking a few different quotes before you sign up and taking the time to read the details of the policy to make sure you have enough cover.

The type of holiday also makes a difference, with cruise trips often requiring more expensive insurance due to the fact they usually include different countries and only limited medical supplies on board.

Taking out a single-trip insurance policy, rather than an annual policy, may also be a cheaper option.

Martyn James, spokesperson for Resolver, adds: “Many older people or those with pre-existing medical conditions will be disheartened and discouraged on a first attempt to get travel insurance, as hugely expensive quotes and restrictions make holidays seem impossible. Don’t give up, there are specialist insurance firms out there who can help, but you may have to hunt around a bit.

“If you’ve got a medical condition then advice from your doctor can help you beat the big quotes. If a medical professional says you’re in remission and not a risk that can help, or you could accept an exclusion, meaning that one specific condition is not covered but everything else is.”

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