Travel insurance subject to double digit premium increases

Travel insurance specialist has warned that travellers need to be wary of offers of “free insurance” from their banks following AXA's announcement that it will impose a double digit increase on its travel insurance premiums.

This move could force some travellers to rely on their bank and the ‘free’ insurance which is added as a sweetener to their current account, according to operations director Fiona MacRae.

“We would encourage anyone who has a pre-existing medical condition to check the wording of the 'free' travel insurance policy they receive with a bank account or credit card very carefully,” she said.

“You need to make sure you are actually covered for pre-existing medical condition. Some of these policies may offer to extend cover for pre-existing medical conditions provided you declare them, but the majority will not cover pre-existing medical conditions at all, especially more serious conditions like cancer.”

She warned that as well as being careful with bank and credit card based travel insurance products, consumers with medical conditions should also be careful with price comparison websites.

MacRae added that medical conditions are so varied they are not easily commoditised. Medical conditions in general are unique to the person who is suffering from it, even with relatively common conditions such as diabetes.

All travel insurers will have to adhere to the rise in insurance premium tax (IPT) in January 2011 from 17.5% to 20%. Insurers have also been battling with an unexpected increase in medical claims due to the weakened sterling rate.