Do travel insurance providers check medical records?

When you buy travel insurance, you’ll need to answer questions about any current or pre-existing medical conditions you may have.

If you don’t disclose relevant medical information, your policy could be invalidated in the event of a claim.

But does this mean that travel insurance providers have an automatic right to check your medical records?

When you buy travel insurance, you’ll need to answer questions about any current or pre-existing medical conditions you may have.

If you don’t disclose relevant medical information, your policy could be invalidated in the event of a claim.

But does this mean that travel insurance providers have an automatic right to check your medical records?

Chris King
From the Home team
3
minute read
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Posted 18 OCTOBER 2019

What do medical records have to do with travel insurance?

If you have a medical condition, your travel insurance provider might want to evaluate how likely you are to need medical care while you’re away. Their experts will want to weigh up the likelihood that you might make a claim relating to your condition, which they’ll have to pay out.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 

The travel traffic light system currently states that trips to green and amber listed countries are legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant government.

Please note: from 4am on 4 October 2021, the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries.

Currently, if your destination of choice is on the green or amber list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you are aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and ensure travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed with short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to red list countries. Most insurance policies purchased to cover a trip to a destination where the FCDO has instructed citizens not to travel to won’t be valid, however, some insurance providers may offer reduced cover if you’re travelling for essential purposes. Should you have any queries, please check the policy wording, or contact your chosen provider before purchasing, to ensure the cover meets your needs.

Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.

Find out more here

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. 

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

When might a travel insurance provider ask to see medical records? 

When you buy a travel insurance policy, it’s normal procedure for your insurance provider to ask you for medical information. The information supplied by you will be used by underwriters to work out the level of risk.

To make sure you’re given the right level of cover or to decide whether they’re happy to insure you or process a claim, your insurance provider may require more detailed medical information from your GP.

Usually, a provider won’t ask to see your medical records, but some might ask to check your records to make sure the information you’ve supplied in your application is accurate.

It’s worth knowing that complaints about how pre-existing conditions are treated by insurance providers are a “recurring theme”, according to the Financial Ombudsman.

If you make a claim for the cancellation of a trip because of the death of a close relative, insurance providers might ask to see the relative’s medical records. This will help them see what was known about your relative’s condition; whether or not it should have been known; how likely it was to deteriorate and in what time frame.

Using this information, the insurance provider – and the Ombudsman in the case of a subsequent complaint – will be able to see whether the right information was declared when the policy was bought and whether the customer was treated fairly.

Access to your medical records

Insurance providers, including travel insurance providers, cannot access your medical records or apply for a medical report from your GP without your consent. Your medical information is legally protected under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 (AMRA).

Your insurance provider can request access to your medical records if they feel it’s necessary. Under the AMRA act:

  • consent must be given by you in writing.
  • your GP cannot supply a medical report to your insurance provider without prior notification and consent from you.
  • doctors are not required to release all aspects of a patient’s medical history, just those that are relevant (with your consent). However, they must not provide false or misleading information.
  • you can ask your GP to amend any aspects of the medical report that you don’t agree with. If they refuse for any reason, you’re entitled to include a statement of your objections that will be attached to the report.
  • you’re also entitled to see the report before it’s sent to your insurance provider. You’ll have 21 days to view and approve it before it can be sent. You can also see the report at any time up to six months after it’s been supplied.

If you deny consent for your insurance provider to check your medical records

If you refuse consent for an insurance provider to check your medical records when applying for travel or any other type of insurance, the insurance provider could refuse to insure you.

If you make a claim on a current insurance policy but deny consent to your medical records, your provider might not have the information they need to successfully process your claim. This could mean that your claim is denied and your policy may no longer be valid.

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