According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 581,000 travellers claimed a massive £370m on their travel insurance policies in 2014. That’s money spent covering everything from medical emergencies to lost luggage and all that lies in-between.
By John Garrard
But worryingly the ABI also notes that 22% of us journey without insurance. That’s more than one in five of us gambling that we won’t fall ill, have an accident, suffer a theft or any other of the many risks insurance can protect against.
The reasons for not taking cover may be many and varied. For example, people frequently overestimate the cover offered under the European Health Insurance Card, including our own MPs, an astonishing 18% of whom believe that if they have an EHIC or used a credit card to book hotels or flights then that is a suitable alternative to travel insurance.
For the avoidance of doubt, the NHS says: “The card is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. This makes it important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy.”
Sourcing effective cover
For disabled people I suspect the biggest issue is in fact sourcing cover that is both effective and affordable in a marketplace which is very much geared up to the homogenous masses. Last year  the Extra Costs Commission, which examines the additional financial burdens placed upon disabled people, reported that many said they found insurance “so expensive it was simply unaffordable” with travel and car cover the most contentious.
Despite it being illegal for insurers to discriminate against disabled people the ECC found that 8% of those surveyed said they had been refused insurance due to a disability or pre-existing medical condition.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. My advice would be to check out a specialist broker, a company which exists to serve people with disabilities and pre-existing medical conditions.
There are many good reasons for this, not least that niche brokers, like Fish, create policies specifically to meet the needs of disabled people. This means that as well as the cover you might traditionally expect from a travel policy – emergency medical treatment, luggage, theft etc – you can also benefit from provision of a replacement carer should yours fall ill or have an accident on your travels, cover for mobility equipment and wheelchairs and the emergency replacement of lost or stolen prescription medicines.
Any one of those benefits could make the difference between a dream holiday and a nightmare should the unexpected happen.
A final bit of advice: when getting a quote don’t be tempted to hold back information about your health in the hope of getting a cheaper quote. You may well succeed in shaving a few quid off your premium but failing to fully disclose could mean your policy isn’t valid so, should you find yourself needing an air ambulance, it’ll be you picking up a tab that could run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Remember, legally you cannot be refused insurance simply because you have a disability or health issue, so don’t hold back. Honesty is not only the best policy, it should help you find the best policy, one that offers the cover you need at a fair price.
John Garrard is Managing Director of Fish Insurance which offers specialist policies for people with disabilities or mobility issues. For more details visit: HYPERLINK “http://www.fishinsurance.co.uk/” \t “_blank” www.fishinsurance.co.uk or call: 0333 331 3754.