Here's a little story about travel insurance and me.
Back in February, I booked our first abroad holiday post peanut allergy diagnosis. Giddy with having found an airline (Monarch) that said they would not sell and would ask passengers not to eat nuts, I merrily went ahead with booking our flights online. Would I like to book my airport parking too? Oh, go on then. Travel insurance as well? Why not!
Well, turns out there was a very good reason "why not": Monarch's travel insurance doesn't cover "Pre-existing Medical Conditions". Their website explains that a "Pre-existing Medical Condition" includes:
Although it's been at the back of my mind (and on my travel to do list) to "check travel insurance would cover anaphylaxis", I hadn't got round to it. Then I saw a tweet from a fellow allergy mum that spurred me into action. She'd been quoted £140 for anaphylaxis cover for her little one...
I called the insurers with two questions:
- Would our policy cover my son if he suffered anaphylaxis, and
- If not, how much would it cost to amend the policy so that it did.
The answer to question 1 was straightforward: "no". You'd think the answer to question 2 would be simple too. However, alas, as I had a "flight policy", anaphylaxis cover could not simply be added. I would need to cancel my existing policy and take out a new policy. Okay, so let's do that then... Not so fast, first I needed to be transferred to the sales team to arrange the new policy. There followed an excruciating conversation about what level of cover I required (no matter how many times I said it, it seems my answer of "the same as the one I'm cancelling, but with anaphylaxis covered" wasn't the appropriate response). Once I'd agreed to "bronze" cover or "second level cover", or whatever it was, it was back to the medical conditions team, to go through the health screening questions, before someone could tell me the increased price.
Long story short, after being transferred round the houses, they could insure my son and his allergies, eczema and asthma... for an additional £80. If I hadn't heard about someone having a £140 quote, I might have fallen off my chair. Apparently, if I wanted to cancel the policy, I'd need to be transferred to yet another department who would arrange a pro rata refund, minus a £20 admin fee.
Allergy UK suggests the following in respect of travel insurance:
So I told Monarch I'd think about it and gave Worldwide Travelplan a call. I spoke to a single person in respect of both the price and the health questions, there was no technical jargon and the uplift for allergy, eczema and asthma cover was around £15.
Then back to Monarch to arrange the cancellation of the first policy. They couldn't confirm the amount of my refund. This information would follow. Can you guess what's coming? Yes, a call two days later to say I wouldn't be getting a refund as, although my holiday hadn't yet started, I'd already had the benefit of "cancellation cover" for a month.
Moral of the story?
- Check whether a travel insurance policy covers anaphylaxis before you buy.
- Act quickly (within the 14 days cooling off period) if you realise allergies aren't covered and you need to cancel.
- Definitely consider getting a quote from Worldwide Travelplan!
If anyone has any recommendations for allergy friendly travel insurance companies, please do post a comment below - I'd love to hear from you (for next year!).