Holiday-goers fail to declare medical conditionsOlder Brits risk invalidating their travel cover

16 July 2010

Tour operators have a duty of care to help you if a death occurs abroad

Tour operators have a duty of care to help you if a death occurs abroad

The cost of not having adequate travel insurance has been highlighted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The British Behaviour Abroad report states that many older holidaymakers don't declare medical information when buying travel cover.

The cost of paying medical bills abroad can be extremely high, especially when on-going treatment and repatriation are required. The Association of British Insurers estimates medical bill payments on travel insurance reached £274 million in 2009.

Which? Best Buy travel insurance policies must offer a minimum of £2 million medical cover, but this would be void if the policyholder was found to have not declared a pre-existing medical condition that they were aware of. The FCO report highlighted the case of a man who suffered a major heart attack while visiting the USA. He had failed to declare a double bypass operation that he'd undergone 20 years previously. As a consequence his insurance was invalidated and he was forced to arrange a payment plan to clear the substantial medical bill. 

Uninsured risk

The British Behaviour Abroad report also revealed that almost one in five visitors to foreign destinations go without any travel insurance. According to Which? insurance expert Dan Moore this too is a big mistake: 'Travel insurance is not prohibitively expensive, and the peace of mind it offers can be invaluable. No one should travel abroad without adequate travel insurance, and there's nothing to be gained by failing to declare any pre-existing medical conditions. 

'If you don't come clean, and the worst happens, you won't be able to claim. If you do declare, it may just mean paying a small additional fee on your premium.'

For more information, read our expert Which? guide to travel money.

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