Knowledge is power

Knowledge is power

Dermot Goode, spokesperson for Total Health Cover, an Irish insurer, has urged holidaymakers to look properly at what their insurance policy covers, as many contain exclusions of which customers may not be aware. He warned: “Travel insurance policies have good overall cover, but the devil is in the detail.” In his review of policies on the Irish marketplace, he found some cover hospital admissions, but not the cost of a traveller using the accident and emergency department of a hospital. He also warned about pre-existing medical condition exclusions, and the potential for high excess amounts, as well as hazardous sports small print.

The same advice is being given to Australian tourists, courtesy of a report in The West Australian, which points out cases of travellers expecting their insurance to cover them, and subsequently finding that they are liable. The same article examines discrimination against people with mental health conditions, with some being refused insurance. A 26-year-old man with Asberger’s Syndrome was told that his travel insurance, provided by SureSave, would not cover any illness on the autism spectrum. His mother later filed a complaint about the discrimination with the Australian Human Rights Commission, alleging that the refusal to cover her son contravened the 1992 Disability Discrimination Act. In the end, SureSave amended its policy, and now underwrites customers with mental illnesses on a case-by-case basis. The Commission confirmed that there are grounds on which consumers can challenge insurance companies based on discrimination. A spokeswoman was quoted as saying: “The law provides that a person can make a complaint to the Commission if, because of their disability, they have been denied travel insurance or been offered a policy on less favourable terms, (such as) a more expensive policy. The law provides such action by an insurance [company] would be unlawful discrimination unless the insurance company can demonstrate that the decision is based on actuarial or statistical data that it is reasonable to rely on and is reasonable having regard to the data and other relevant factors.” She added: “Where no actuarial or statistical data is available and cannot reasonably be obtained, the insurance provider can also argue that the action they have taken is not unlawful discrimination because it is reasonable having regard to other relevant factors.”