According to a study by the Co-Op in the UK, which took in results from 2,000 UK holidaymakers, one-third (32 per cent) of British travellers say they are struggling to obtain travel insurance coverage, with 60 per cent of these citing pre-existing medical conditions as the primary reason. Cancer (21 per cent), diabetes (18 per cent) and low blood pressure (18 per cent) were the most common health issues creating hurdles for UK travellers looking for coverage for the trips, according to respondents. Chronic pain and the need for prescription medication made up the rest of the top five obstacles cited.
The most affected age demographic was those aged 65 and over, with 83 per cent of this group saying that pre-existing conditions made obtaining travel insurance difficult. Unfortunately, of those who said they find it tricky to get cover, 32 per cent opt to simply go without. Twenty-eight per cent make use of specialist providers – generally resulting in higher premiums – while 27 per cent said they change their holiday plans and 19 per cent do not declare their conditions at all. Of this latter group of travellers that foregoes coverage, 30 per cent cross their fingers and hope they don’t get into any trouble while holidaying, and 10 per cent avoid any potentially risky activities.
“It’s really quite worrying to think that people who find it difficult to get suitable travel insurance products are resorting to not declaring important details about their medical conditions or are ignoring travel insurance completely,” said Colin Butler, the Co-Op’s Head of Travel Insurance. “The average travel insurance claim stands at £2,000 and so it’s really important that people take out appropriate cover that’s right for them.”
However, Mike Preston, Business Development Director at insurance comparison site The Idol, has a different view of the situation. "We have worked hard with our panel of travel insurers over the past five years to ensure that we provide products for as much of the population of the UK as is possible," he told ITIJ, "including people travelling with pre-existing medical conditions. Through our panel, approximately one-third of customers declare pre-existing conditions and of those who do so, over 95 per cent receive quotations online. For those with more complex medical conditions for whom we are unable to provide online quotations, we signpost them to a telephone service with specialist providers who can be contacted directly by customers. The vast majority of those who use this service will receive quotations. We do therefore believe that our aggregator partners provide a comprehensive proposition that enables the vast majority of their customers with declared pre-existing conditions to receive a selection of quotations and so purchase a travel insurance product appropriate for their needs."