How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover

How a GP visit can wreck your holiday travel cover… as Richard discovered when he found a small mole on his skin. Richard Sibbald was advised to get a mole checked four months before a holiday. It was an aggressive cancer that needed surgery to stop it spreading. He cancelled the holiday and tried to claim a refund from their insurer

Their claim was rejected and Insure & Go wouldn’t budge on appeal. Richard failed to say he had been referred to a specialist before booking 

How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover

How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover

There was no rush — his appointment was booked for December, four months away. The last time he had a mole checked it had turned out to be nothing.

Richard, 41, and his wife Claire, 43, had an annual travel insurance policy. So when they booked a holiday to Crete in November for the following May, they assumed they would be covered.

However, when Richard saw the specialist on December 3, things started to go wrong. The dermatologist suspected the mole to be cancerous and referred him for surgery to have it removed. 

Insurers rarely cover customers waiting for test results; they like to wait until you have a diagnosis, so they can assess risk

How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover

How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover

Three weeks later, Richard was told he had malignant melanoma, an aggressive type of cancer. He needed more surgery to stop it spreading.

The doctors were optimistic they had caught it early. The couple’s holiday was not for another five months, by which time Richard would, hopefully, have recovered.

Then an operation in February to remove a large area of skin around Richard’s mole indicated his cancer. This had had spread to the lymph nodes under his left arm. He would now need an operation in April to have them removed.

How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover

The Sibbalds, who have a four-year-old son Harry and live in London. They realised Richard would not be well enough to travell. They cancelled their £1,700 holiday and contacted their insurer, Insure & Go, to claim the money. 

They filled in a form and attached a letter from Richard’s doctor detailing when he had been diagnosed. They explained what treatment he had. However, their claim was rejected and Insure & Go wouldn’t budge when they appealed.

Richard had made a crucial mistake. He had failed to tell the firm that he had been referred to a specialist before booking. As far as Insure & Go was concerned, he had withheld important information. This was needed to establish how much risk he posed as a customer. This mistake voided his insurance.

Richard, who runs a handyman business, says: ‘We didn’t consider telling our insurer because we never imagined it would be anything serious.

‘It wasn’t as if my GP had referred me as an emergency. It took four months to get an appointment. We put it to the back of our minds. We always book holidays in advance because they are cheaper. We had no idea we wouldn’t be covered.’

How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover

How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Travel Cover

Insure & Go’s annual policy terms and conditions states you must contact the Insure & Go Medical Screening Line immediately.  ‘If after purchasing this policy, any person named on the policy develops a new medical condition. If there is a change in a medical condition that has already been declared to us.’

Insure & Go says Richard should have called the moment his GP referred him to a dermatologist. 

 Richard Sibbald, wife Claire, and son Harry had no idea he couldn’t claim on his policy

He would then have been covered for anything booked, it says, but future bookings wouldn’t be covered. Richard would have then known that if he booked a holiday and could not go, he would be unable to claim.

Insurers rarely cover customers waiting for test results. They like to wait until you have a diagnosis, so they can assess risk. Once that is done, you will usually have to pay more because you present a greater risk. You can forgo cover for a claim relating to that condition.

Richard’s only wriggle-room would have been if his claim was nothing to do with his referral to the skin specialist.

 How A GP Visit Can Wreck Your Travel Cover

Some insurers will not pay the claim because customers have not been upfront about their medical history. 

If Richard had paid for a holiday before seeing his GP. He would have still been covered if he had needed to cancel or had fallen ill while away.

 ‘Insurers want to know if there’s even the slightest hint your health has changed.’  Martyn James, formerly of the Financial Ombudsman.

‘This includes if you have been to the doctor, got a test booked. If you have an appointment to see a specialist or some form of a question mark hanging over you? If your claim is rejected for a condition unrelated to your change in health, you should make a complaint.’

A spokeswoman for Insure & Go says: ‘Mr Sibbald’s condition substantially altered his policy and needed to be declared. There was an element of known risk when he booked this trip, which we were not made aware of.

‘If he had had a pending consultation of this nature at the time of purchasing insurance. It’s a horrible situation, but there was nothing we could do to cover the holiday, cover would not be available’

How A GP Visit Could Wreck Your Holiday Travel Cover
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