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Travellers with health conditions warned

A couple of grey panthers on holidayTravellers with pre-existing health issues are being urged to keep their insurer informed about their medical status, or risk voiding their cover.

Book a holiday when you’re fit and healthy and you can take your pick from the travel policies on offer.

But if you’ve got a pre-existing medical condition, which can mean anything from diabetes or asthma to heart problems, it can be harder, and much more expensive to get insurance.

Potential insurers will want details of your condition, medication and recent doctor’s or hospital appointments.

But what happens if you miss or cancel an appointment? In some cases this could mean any potential claim being rejected.

And failing to take the correct dose of any medication can also mean your insurance is void.

Keep your insurer in the loop

Garry Nelson is from AllClear Insurance, which specialises in cover for pre-existing conditions

"It’s the traveller’s responsibility to keep their insurer informed about their medical status and any doctor’s visits, including ones they couldn’t keep," he says.

If you visit your doctor for a routine appointment and your medication is changed, this is exactly the kind of detail your insurer needs to know so make sure you tell them.

Missed medication

Missing a tablet or forgetting to take any of your prescribed medication can put your policy in jeopardy too.

Small print in Flexicover’s travel policy warns that failing to take the prescribed dose can result in you not being covered in the event of a claim.

Flying across time zones can cause havoc with your body clock and may mean you’re more likely to forget regular medication.

“If you’re supposed to take medication at a certain time every day, consider setting a reminder on your phone so you don’t miss a dose,” suggests Mhairi Edwards, head of travel insurance at Confused.com.

Missed appointments

When it comes to missed or cancelled appointments you’ve got to be careful as you could run the risk of claims being turned down.

“Perhaps one regular missed appointment, for say a blood-pressure check-up, would leave the insurer having to prove you were acting negligently in missing the appointment,” says Nelson. 

But if this is a regular occurrence, or if your doctor arranges a second appointment following some tests, or even a consultant’s appointment, you run the risk of jeopardising your travel cover if you cancel before going on a trip.

"This could mean the possibility of an undiagnosed condition," says Nelson, "which is something insurers are always concerned about."

If you need to cancel an appointment, say because you’re unwell or it’s due while you’re away, tell your insurer.

What happens if an appointment is cancelled for you?

If a scheduled appointment is cancelled or postponed, say due to staff illness, and you’re due to travel before another can be made, tell your insurer.

"Ask your doctor to write a note confirming you’re fit to travel," advises Nelson. 

Some surgeries may make a charge for this but it can avoid any problems if you need to a make a claim further down the line. 

Paying a high premium is better than zero insurance

'Don’t be afraid to get on the phone to your insurer and tell them everything you think might be relevant.

'They can decide what’s important and provide cover on that basis," says Edwards.

Finally don’t think about going without travel insurance. It’s never worth the risk as treatment abroad can quickly run into thousands of pounds.

And never rely solely on an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for medical treatment.

Do some research and find the best policy for you.

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Sue Hayward

Carl Chambers

Sue Hayward is a personal finance broadcaster, journalist and author. Sue talks and writes on money matters including chatting on BBC Radio & TV as well as contributing to magazines, websites and newspapers. Sue's also written two books; the latest of which is 'How To Get The Best Deal'.

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