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Date: 09/09/2019

The cost of not declaring health conditions

Not telling your insurer about common health conditions, such as high blood pressure or asthma, is a costly mistake if it invalidates medical cover.

  • About 15 million people are living with at least one long-term health condition.
  • We typically see about 5-6% of our customers declare medical conditions.
  • Medical expenses paid by travel insurers averaged £1,368 last year.

Travel insurers spend more than £200 million every year on emergency medical expenses, with last year's average claim reaching a record £1,368.

Faced with these costs and in order to correctly price our products, it's important for insurers to know as much as possible about a customer's health before they travel, such as any existing medical conditions.

In the UK, at least 15 million people are thought to be living with at least one long-term health condition, a number predicted to rise to 18 million over the next decade.

However, this isn't always reflected in the number of people declaring medical conditions to their travel insurer. At and our insurance partners, we typically see about 5-6% of our customers declare medical conditions.

Cost of medical treatment

Customers who have not disclosed important details about their health may invalidate their cover, leaving themselves or their family at risk of very large medical bills.

Case studies from the Association of British Insurers highlight just how expensive overseas treatment can be. Claims last year included £587,000 to treat two people who were injured by a drunk driver in the United States and £118,000 to rescue a cruise passenger following a stroke.

Another case reported recently involved a £200,000 medical bill for treatment of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in Mexico. Not all the costs were covered by the insurer, however, because the policyholder hadn't disclosed the prescription of an inhaler.

Common conditions

Many Britons are unaware that common conditions such as asthma or high blood pressure need to be declared. The list also includes mental health conditions, arthritis and diabetes, while anyone who has suffered cancer will have to declare this regardless how long ago the diagnosis.

Allergies are another area to disclose, particularly as some travel insurers may not provide cover. There are an estimated two million people living in the UK with a food allergy, a figure that's not reflected in the declarations made to travel insurers.

A spokesperson at said: “Even if travellers think their conditions are being managed through medication, this still needs to be declared to their insurer.”