Insurance: the importance of disclosure and the small print
Written by Paul Dodd on April 03, 2015.
A recent news report I came across highlighted two important insurance issues which I would like to share with you.
A British man, Thomas Owens, was on holiday in Spain with friends when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He had taken the wise precaution of purchasing travel insurance with Staysure. However Mr Owens had undergone heart surgery twice – in 2005 to fit a microvalve and in 2012 to fit the pacemaker – and although, according to the family, he had been given the all-clear to fly by doctors, he did not declare his condition to the insurance company when he took out the policy online.
As a result of his omission, Staysure refused to pay the £4,000 cost of repatriation for his body. His widow and six children cannot afford to pay this cost themselves so have resorted to launching a Facebook appeal to raise funds to fly the body home. This has no doubt caused them a huge amount of additional distress at an already difficult time.
The lessons to be learnt here are twofold, and apply not just to travel insurance but to all policies, particularly medical and life insurance. Firstly, it is essential to declare your medical history and any pre-existing conditions which you may have. This may make your premium marginally more expensive but will ensure that you have specific cover for your individual needs and avoid the insurance being declared null and void. In this case, although it is a tragic situation, Staysure are well within their rights to refuse to pay the repatriation costs because they are directly related to Mr Owens’ pre-existing health condition which was not declared and covered on his policy.
Secondly, always read the small print and ensure that you understand the terms and conditions. If Mr Owens had done this, he would have realised the importance of declaring his heart condition when he took the policy out. A Which? survey in the UK revealed that two in three people are angry at having to pay hidden fees, another reason why it is essential to look over the contract in detail. Once you have signed it is too late.
Finally, I’d like to stress how important the issue of repatriation is for expats. None of us want to contemplate the worst happening to us but you do need to make sure you know the implications if you were to pass away abroad. Good quality medical insurance cover – something we recommend that all expats should have as a matter of course – will include repatriation as standard, which is reassuring for families and will ensure that, should anything happen to you, your loved ones are not left in the same difficult situation as Mr Owens’ widow and children.
If you have any questions about your insurance policies or requirements, a professional financial adviser can help you pick your way through the minefield and help you select policies which are suitable for your requirements. Here at Infinity we work with the world’s leading insurance providers and can provide outstanding levels of cover at the lowest premiums. Contact me to find out more.
Expat Insurance Consumer Guide
If you want to find out more about personal protection insurance including medical and life insurance, critical illness and income protection cover this guide outlines and explains all the issues you should consider in a jargon free, no nonsense way. Visit Expatinsuranceconsumerguide.com