The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published feedback on its Call for Input (CfI) on Access to Insurance.
The regulator says it is concerned that consumers find it difficult to access the specialist travel insurance market. As a result, the FCA says it will work with key industry stakeholders to create a new service which will redirect customers to specialist providers.
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “People with pre-existing medical conditions feel poorly served by travel insurance. There are specialist services out there, but often people don’t know where to find them. We’ll work with industry to point people in the right direction and help dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings to ensure this market works better.
“This will also form part of our continuing work on insurance pricing practices which are designed to lead to long-term positive changes across the market.”
In June 2017 the FCA issued its Call for Input to gather more evidence and decide how best to address concerns about people with pre-existing medical conditions obtaining affordable travel insurance. In the UK at least 15 million people are currently living with at least one long-term health condition. This number is predicted to rise to 18 million over the next decade.
The CfI prompted a high level of interest including responses from individual consumers, with many writing about their personal experiences. Most stakeholders felt that it could be difficult for consumers who have, or have had, pre-existing medical conditions to find affordable travel insurance.
The regulator noted that a number of themes emerged from the responses including:
- There is a lack of quality information on alternative options available to consumers after they had received a high quote or had been refused cover, which can cause consumers to assume that they are uninsurable.
- A general lack of understanding amongst consumers and firms around insurance terms and the risk factors that are considered by providers when calculating the premium.
- The lack of transparency around pricing, the risk factors which drive quotes and how premiums are calculated which limits consumers’ awareness about their options and can mean that they have difficulties in finding competitive insurance that is appropriate for their medical condition.
Georgie Frost, consumer advocate from GoCompare Travel, said: “As someone with a pre-existing medical condition, I know only too well the difficulty and expense of getting good quality travel insurance.
“It is completely unfair that someone with a long-term health issue should have to deny themselves a much-needed holiday because they can’t find or afford the right cover, either because they believe they are completely uninsurable, or they end up being quoted some extortionate premium to have peace of mind when abroad.
“The situation has improved over the last few years thanks to comparison websites like GoCompare, with more competition in the market increasing access and pushing costs down, but clearly more work needs to be done.
“There are 15 million people in the UK currently living with a long-term health condition. With that number expected to rise to 18 million over the next decade, it is only right that the travel insurance industry reflects the needs of a quarter of the population.
“In the meantime, it is possible to find and compare the travel insurance cover available if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Go on to a comparison website, like GoCompare, to find the options that are right for you. It is important that you declare everything to your insurer so you do not get a nasty shock if you need to make a claim. If you are in any doubt, call up the insurer to discuss your needs before you buy and before you travel.”
The findings of the CfI will also be used to inform the FCA’s wider work on insurance pricing practices, as announced in the Business Plan for 2018/19.