Travel insurance loophole exposedHolidaymakers face losing cover if they fall ill

23 May 2012

Travel insurance

Some travel insurers will not cover new medical conditions

Ten in 12 of Britain's largest travel insurers won’t always continue to provide cover for customers falling ill before they travel, according to the latest Which? Money research.

'Ongoing medical warranty' might leave you short of cover

While you might expect to pay a higher premium to cover a condition you have before you take out a policy, there's another clause buried in the small print of travel cover policies, requiring you to inform your insurers about any new illness before you travel. This clause is called an 'ongoing medical warranty.'

Under this, some will continue your travel insurance policy for an additional premium, but others may refuse to cover you and refund your premium, advise you to put a cancellation claim in on your holiday, or will only provide cover that excludes the new condition.

Travel insurers take different approaches

RBS Insurance, which covers Direct Line and Churchill, told us that if someone was diagnosed with a chronic lymphatic leukaemia after taking out their policy, but before travelling, it may ask for an additional premium following further screening questions, or if it decided it couldn't cover the trip, it would offer the other options of the ongoing medical warranty. LV= responded similarly.

Axa Travel Insurance took a more flexible approach. You don't have to inform the insurer about changes to their health during the period of insurance, though holidaymakers must not travel against medical advice. Similarly, Age UK will cover you for any booked trip under the original terms, though you'll have undergo a medical screening before going on another trip.

New Which? Recommended travel insurance Providers

Which? travel insurance analyst Paul Davies said of medical warranties: 'If you're worried about this issue, use a company, such as Axa or Age UK, that doesn’t have an ongoing medical warranty. You'll still have to contact the insurer if your medical circumstances change.

'We have just launched our list of Which? Recommended travel insurance Providers. These are companies that combine excellent customer service with a policy that provides above-average levels of cover. Check out our list if you're looking to arrange travel insurance.'

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