The history of travel insurance for medical conditions

Do you have an existing medical condition?  Have you ever wondered why you need to buy specialist travel insurance for pre-existingmedical conditions?

Why can’t insurers offer you cover at the same rates as everyone else? You probably feel absolutely fine, your life is under control, perhaps you are holding down a demanding job or raising a family? Maybe its years since you had to be admitted to a hospital if ever, you just keep taking the prescribed medications or inhalers and your health is fine?
You might be interested in some of the history which has led to the development of travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions added.
Back when I first started in this industry there were simply standard policies with no questions asked. Not many companies offered this product and often it was tagged on to home contents cover or the European car breakdown cover. Holidays tended to be taken within the UK or to Spain or the South of France and most travellers went by car, driving all night down the Route du Soleil with a tent on top and the kids sleeping in the back.
Times have changed!  Now we fly and we frequently fly long-haul to destinations where local medical facilities may be inadequate or prohibitively expensive. These changes soon revealed new challenges for travel insurers, several went broke or pulled out of the market and on the day we first paid a claim of over £100,000 for a traveller who suffered a heart attack on arrival in Florida; it became clear a rethink was needed.
What we realised is that everyone’s premiums were steadily increasing year on year in order to cater for these exorbitant medical bills which in turn meant that the young and healthy were cross subsidising the older and less fit travellers. In order to restore a “level playing field” in which each person paid a premium which reflected accurately the risk they genuinely represented, less expensive policies were designed which excluded ALL existing medical problems. Those with medical problems were then invited to “pre-screen” so that medical underwriters could assess their specific needs and offer additional top-up cover at premiums which reflected their individual risk.
This then was the birth of specialist travel insurance for existing medical conditions.
Thanks again to Tricia Pearson-Tietema our Head of Medical Underwriting for today’s blog.

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