Last week, ITIJ exclusively reported on the findings of a wide-ranging survey of British winter sports travellers. Further data from the research has revealed that, worryingly, nearly half of UK travellers planning on heading on a winter sports holiday believe that travel insurance would be prohibitively expensive if they declared their pre-existing medical conditions – or that they would struggle to obtain coverage at all. Travel tech company Aquarium Software, which commissioned the research, has advised that travel insurers need to make it a less daunting proposition for customers to disclose these medical conditions; after all, we in the industry are all too aware of the problems that can result when such important information is kept secret.
“Non-disclosure of medical conditions is a significant problem for the insurance industry, because people feel they will be unfairly penalised for telling the truth,” said Aquarium’s Managing Director Ed Shropshire. “Others genuinely forget past conditions or mistakenly think they are not relevant, and rumours [however inaccurate] that some insurers may try to dodge paying legitimate claims does not help. It is perhaps human nature to put a sheen on the truth in certain situations, but travel insurance is one area where the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth pays in the long-term – even if there is a short-term financial cost.”
The study took in data from over 2,000 British adults, and 46 per cent of respondents felt that it made more sense not to disclose their pre-existing conditions than to face the potential stress or financial repercussions of being totally open. However, many were seemingly unaware of the consequences if they tried to make a claim and this non-disclosure was found out; and more to the point, the landscape for coverage of pre-existing conditions has changed considerably even in the last few years, so these worries are increasingly unfounded.
“In the next 15 years, the over-65 population in the UK will increase by 4.4 million,” added Shropshire. “Many with medical conditions will still wish to travel. For sustainable business models, we must ensure people are not priced out for telling the truth, while insurers still need to make a reasonable profit. Consumers need to shop around; price comparison sites are a good first port of call but may not always be best for specific age groups, medical conditions or activities. Niche providers including charities and associations may be more likely to offer affordable premiums and the best cover for very specific scenarios.”