Travellers with mental health problems are facing huge premiums or even no access to travel insurance, charity claims
While mental health conditions should not be treated any differently to physical health problems, sadly, this is not always the case. As you may know, if you have a mental health condition, buying travel insurance which provides suitable cover can be difficult - if you can get cover at all.
In fact, mystery shopping has discovered the cost of cover increases by as much as 400% for those who disclosed mental health issues - even for those that have been stable for years. As such, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI), the leading centre of expertise on money and mental health problems, is now calling for regulators to review the fairness of travel insurance.
This comes after a review published earlier this year by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which found that people with previous medical conditions - particularly those that had been treated for cancer - were struggling to find affordable travel insurance, even long after treatment was finished.
Other cases, as seen by the MMHPI, include people with bipolar disorder who found that the cost of their insurance quotes rose from about £80 to hundreds of pounds, after declaring their condition. Some insurers even refused to provide travel cover when customers chose to declare their mental health condition.
"I couldn't find anyone that would cover me once I declared that I had bipolar" - Leah Milner a journalist who lives with bipolar says she pays higher travel insurance premiums because of her mental health.— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 22, 2018
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It is often unclear why applicants are turned down for cover but Mind, the mental health charity, told the Telegraph that those with such problems are usually assessed 'high risk' customers because of their condition. Often, insurers believe they will have to pay out more in the event of a claim, because of the potentially high cost of treatment that may be required overseas.
The charity suggested that mainstream insurers are not appropriately equipped to deal with complex mental health cases, meaning it can be difficult for some customers to get the level of cover they require. Due to this, some travellers may be tempted to omit details of previous mental health problems from their application.
CEO of insurance company Bought By Many, Steven Mendel, comments, “Insurers are adding stress to the process of getting cover and, at worst, pricing people out of being able to get travel insurance at all. And, prices are often highest for people with the most serious conditions, meaning they may make the risky decision to travel without insurance and potentially face huge medical bills if they need treatment.”
In fact, a survey of over 2,000 people by the MMHPI found that nearly half (45%) of people with mental health problems never disclose their illness to their travel insurer. However, it is important to ensure you always declare all medical conditions - mental or physical - to an insurer.
As Michael Henson-Webb, of Mind, warns: “If your policy does not cover pre-existing conditions and you try to make a claim related to your depression, this could invalidate your claim and your provider will refuse to pay out.”
As a result, many travellers are turning to specialist providers such as Free Spirit, Good to Go, and The Insurance Surgery. These companies offer dedicated policies for those with existing conditions, including mental health problems.
Or, as an alternative, Bought By Many offers travel insurance policies which only require a note from your doctor stating you're fit to travel, meaning you don't have to disclose the nature of any condition - avoiding the unnecessary stress created by this procedure.
Is there a link between travel and mental ill health? Counselling Directory explores.