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Tell your insurer your medical history

November 29, 2018

No secrets, no surprises.

Travel insurers have revealed a spike in queries about pre-existing conditions in the wake of a high-profile case in which a woman didn't receive a payout after failing to reveal a pre-existing bowel condition.

Abby Hartley died in a Hospital in Bali after becoming ill from her previously undisclosed condition. She purchased travel insurance but did not tell the insurer about her pre-existing bowel condition.
After this case, Southern Cross Travel Insurance said they had seen a 20% increase in inquiries relating to pre-existing conditions.

More travel insurance policy holders are now reading their policy documents to understand more about what they are covered for and what they are not.

How does this apply to you?

Moving forward, make sure you disclose everything. Don’t make a mistake thinking any minor medical issue is important or not, and even more so, don’t self-diagnose the problem, and if there is a diagnosis, disclose it verbatim.

In this case of Abby Hartley, it was travel insurance, but the same applies to every type of insurance, whether it is Private Medical Insurance, Life Insurance, Vehicle Insurance because at claim time insurers will investigate further before deciding whether the claim is to be paid or not.

Why don’t insurers investigate first?

This is not a new question at all, and this has been raised for years about why don’t insurers investigate before accepting the insurance, that way there would be no claims declined for non-disclosure.

I am not sure exactly why, but some reasons could be that each time an insurer requests medical information from someone, it costs hundreds of dollars to get it, so straight away that would add to the cost of assessing each application, whether it proceeds or not.

Even if an insurer did get all medical records from every doctor, the time it would take to go through all that information would mean considerable more time to read through all the information, which again adds cost.

Then there is the time where the insurer seeks to clarify the information because an outcome of a condition is not clear, and so on. Adding all this cost would sure increase insurance premiums and no one want’s that.

The system works

The concept of insurance is a “Paper and a Promise”. You tell them everything they need to know, and they provide a policy (promise) to pay you within the terms of the policy.

If there is something in your application that needs further information and investigation, they can focus on the condition disclosed which makes the underwriting process more efficient than a blanket investigation trying to find a need in a haystack, all you need to do is tell them where the needles are.

The system works if you tell all and if you don’t, you may as well not have the insurance at all, because you will think you are covered for a and you may not be, which is worse because it’s giving you a false sense of security.

If you have told your insurer about any past medical conditions, then you will be fine. One of three things will happen, either they will accept your condition with no special terms, or they will accept your condition with special terms, or exclude your condition from your policy.

In any case, at least you know where you stand, and you will have no surprises.