The sale of annual multi-trip travel insurance policies is on the increase, as they compare favourably with the costs of single-trip travel policies.
Traditionally we have relied upon a travel policy for cover while overseas as a complement to a UK private medical insurance (PMI) plan. But many policyholders are unaware that treatment for pre-existing and ongoing medical conditions is excluded from the travel policy, unless specifically disclosed and accepted by the insurer prior to departing for each separate trip. Further, the cover is only for accident and emergencies and typically will carry a restriction on the time you can spend overseas.
Travelling abroad has become more frequent and so we need to review the pitfalls of these policies for the medical insurance element. One option is an international PMI plan, which can provide cover in the UK but also while travelling or living abroad. For example, a person receiving osteopathic treatment in the UK who travels on business would not be eligible to claim for continued treatment under his travel policy. But under an international health plan he would be entitled to reimbursement of these expenses, although the condition was in existence prior to his date of departure.
Another example is a UK resident suffering chest pains and undergoing tests, the costs of which are covered under his UK PMI policy. Believing the problem to be caused by stress, he takes a holiday but then experiences breathing difficulties and chest pains and is transported to hospital. Under a travel policy, the medical condition would be considered pre-existing and not covered. Under an international health plan, if the costs for investigations and treatment while in the UK were covered, the ongoing costs incurred overseas would also be paid. Therefore, intermediaries should explore both the international and UK plans to ensure adequate cover and best advice is given to a client who regularly travels abroad.