Why you must check your relatives' health before you travel
It's not just your health than can affect your travel insurance - insurers want to know about the health of your relatives, even those staying behind!
When you take out your holiday travel insurance, insurers will naturally want to know how fit and healthy you are. And the one question that often proves a stumbling block, (and can be costly if you get it wrong), is whether you’ve got a ‘pre-existing’ medical condition.
If you fail to mention your recurring back problem or the fact you’re currently on medication it could mean you won’t be covered if an existing problem flares up on holiday which means you need to cut short or cancel your trip.
From an insurer’s perspective asking about your state of health makes perfect sense. After all they want to know that anyone they’re insuring to travel is fit and well in order to lessen the risk of any claims. But insurers may also want to know about the health of the rest of your family, including those you’re leaving at home.
I recently took out a travel policy with Virgin for a holiday in Greece, and reading the small print spotted a clause which asked if any 'non travelling' close relative had a pre-existing medical condition.
This wasn’t a question I was actively asked upfront, but was written in the small print terms and conditions, which let’s be honest so many of us don’t take the time to read. Virgin claims this clause is common within the travel insurance industry (although not all insurers actually ask this) and in this case, it refers to either a close relative who isn’t travelling with the policyholder, or someone who the policyholder plans to stay with during their trip.
Does everyone do this?
Shop around and other travel policies like those from the Post Office, Direct Line and Churchill ask about pre-existing medical conditions for anyone looking to be insured under the policy but don’t directly ask about the health of relatives remaining at home.
However both esure and Sheilas’ Wheels ask whether ‘you’re aware of any medical condition affecting the health of the people travelling with you or a relative or a colleague that may lead you to cancel or cut short your trip’.
And with others, even if it’s not a question that’s asked upfront there may be a clause in the policy wording. Aviva states policyholders must let it know if any ‘close relative, close business associate, travelling companion or someone you plan to stay with’ has a serious, chronic or recurring illness, injury or disease which could affect your trip.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says travel policies, by their very nature, are designed to cover holiday cancellation, either as a result of an illness you yourself suffer, the person travelling with you, or a ‘close’ family member. In most cases we tend to buy travel policies ‘off the peg’, so they’re standard and tend to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach. But with others there may be more level of detail needed.
Who counts as ‘close’ family?
Quite a lot of people actually, which can make it tricky if you’ve got to list every ailment any of them suffers from and even check up on the name of the condition or type of medication they’re on if this is needed. When it comes to insurance, forget the ‘less is more’ approach and tell them everything. This way they can decide how much information they need to know about your aunt’s heart condition or stepbrother’s diabetes.
Insurers’ definitions vary over who exactly counts as ‘close’ family for cancellation purposes. With both Protectyourbubble and Virgin the list is quite extensive and includes your husband or wife, civil or common law partner, parent, parent-in-law, stepparent, legal guardian, children (including legally adopted or stepchildren), and daughter- or son-in-law, sibling (including stepsiblings), grandparents, grandchildren and the fiance or fiancée of anyone insured on the policy.
Aviva’s travel policy goes a step further and ‘close’ family here even includes aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces. However with esure and Sheilas’ Wheels ‘close’ family is much more tight knit, meaning your husband or wife, civil partner and any child of you and your spouse or civil partner.
Don’t keep quiet
Even if your policy wording doesn’t actually ask about the health of any family who are staying at home, the ABI says that if you know a close family member has been, or is, unwell when you take out your travel insurance policy, you should tell your insurer, even if they don’t specifically ask the question.
However if unknown to you a relative is undergoing treatment then you shouldn’t be penalised as 'you can’t disclose what you’re not aware of’.
More on travel: