Travel Insurance

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If you suffer from Gaucher's disease and want to holiday abroad, you need to put more effort than average into your choice of travel insurance writes David Lewis.

Many, but not all, travel insurance policies exclude payment of claims arising from a pre-existing illness. Others ask specific questions like: 'Have you received or been referred for hospital or specialist treatment, surgery or investigation for any medical condition in the last 12 months?' or 'Are you taking any prescription medicines?'

In the case of Gaucher's disease, the insurance companies which ask the questions may act differently when you give the same answer. For instance if you tell a company that you have Gaucher's disease, are receiving enzyme replacement therapy and have check ups every six months, the result may be that one company might accept you at the normal rate; another might ask you to get your Doctor to sign a certificate saying you are fit to travel; a third might cover you for any claim but at a higher premium; a fourth might exclude any claim relating to Gaucher's disease; and a fifth might refuse to insure you at all.

The cost of travel insurance varies widely, whether or not you have an existing medical condition. Someone with Gaucher's disease was quoted £15 by one company for a month in Europe and £124 by another; others quoted £39, £54 and £72.

To get good value insurance and full cover, plan well in advance. Policy conditions and costs change regularly so you cannot be certain that a policy you took out last year will continue to be free of exclusion clauses the next time you take it out. Indeed if you go abroad more than once a year, consider getting an annual policy which covers all trips. Then at least you only have to do your research once a year.

Although most travel policies can be taken out by phone, your best bet is to phone well in advance and ask for written details and a specimen policy. Don't tell the company you have Gaucher's disease or are under treatment unless they specifically ask or the written details say you must tell them.

In the Summer 1999 issue of Holiday Which?, the following companies were recommended for people with a pre-existing illness. Get quotes from more than one company and then decide.

Annual Worldwide Policies: Atlas (0171 609 5000), Leisurecare (01793 750 150), Leeds & Holbeck (0870 602 4816).

Worldwide or USA: Atlas (0171 609 5000), Matthew Gerard (01483 730 900), James Hampden (01530 416 369).

Europe (usually also includes countries bordering the Mediterranean like Turkey, Morocco and Israel): Atlas (0171 609 5000), Direct Travel (01903 812 345), Primary Direct (0870 444 3434), Worldwide (01892 833 338).

A company called Travelbility (0171 446 7600) also runs single and multitrip insurance and knows about Gaucher's disease. You have to tell them about it. A member found their quote quite costly.

If you are holidaying within the European Union, you might consider going without private medical insurance and make use of the reciprocal health agreements using the E111 form which you can apply for at Post Offices. The extent of treatment available is shown in a leaflet but is not always comprehensive - in France you usually have to pay 30% yourself, and in Greece and Italy you are best advised not to rely on the public health sector. Form E111 does not cover lost luggage or an emergency flight home.

Source: Gaucher's News July 1999

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© Copyright Gaucher's Association 1999