Monday 26 March 2012

Travel Insurance and Your Premature Baby

I've been wanting to cover this for quite some time. As most of my readers will know, I used to work in health insurance before having Joseph. When we travelled to Australia when Joseph was seven months old we were not charged anything for his insurance, and again when he was 21 months we paid a nominal amount. I have discovered that a lot of parents have paid a fortune for travel insurance and wanted to share some of my knowledge and tips.

1. Before booking your trip and paying for insurance, speak to your child's consultant about any potential issues. Ask your consultant what they feel you need to declare when speaking to your insurance company. If your child is no longer under consultant care, I would argue that you probably do not need to disclose too much to your insurer, and I will explain why further on.

2. Do not attempt to book travel insurance with an online service. Analysing complex medical histories and applying pre existing conditions is too complex for the computer, and your quote will be wrong and your cover inadequate.

3. Shop around and ask for personal recommendations. Also check any existing cover you have already. We had a travel insurance arrangement with our bank, they covered Joseph free of charge in his first year, and were not concerned about his prematurity.

4. Before speaking to insurance firm, write down your key points and concerns and make sure any information you give is up to date. For example when Joseph was discharged from neonatal care at 3 months old there were a number of concerns about his digestve system and breathing, and we were given a diagnosis of chronic lung disease (CLD). When applying for travel insurance, I did disclose all this but made it very clear that he was not receiving treatment and not expected too.

5. Don't say too much. It's tempting to say everything to cover your bases and no one wants to go on holiday not covered. Having said that, you need to remember that in the vast majority of cases the person you are speaking to is a) not medically trained and b) not the decision maker. I would advise to start you conversation by saying "my child was born prematurely at x number of weeks," and let them lead the conversation. It's important to bear in mind that the operator will be entering codes into a computer so if you say CLD, even if your baby is not receiving any active medical treatment at the moment, the computer might think emphysema or COPD, which are very serious conditions and thus will increase your premiums. Bear in mind that what the insurance company need to know is anything that is likely to go wrong, but don't be too speculative, and this is where speaking to the consultant first will help crystallise how much information you need to give.

6. Get additional quotes. I would work on getting at least 3, if they are all coming back high, consider using a broker, who may have additional companies they can use.

7. If you are turned down at any point in the quotation process ask to speak to the underwriting team, these are the guys that determine risk and whether they will offer cover. Sometimes it can just be a coding error or interpretation problem and can be rectified easily.

8. If travelling in Europe make sure you have a European Health Card organised for all of you in the family, including the infant. The EHC is not enough on its own, as it will not cover medical repatriation back to the UK and other costs, but is important to have.

9. In complex cases travel insurance will be expensive and its important to shop around and get sound advice. I would advise using a broker in complex cases.



  1. Well its fine to consult before choosing travel insurance for your trip. You have to find out the best policy for you so you should careful about it and make a big comparison online.

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  5. Thanks for this post. This information should really be helpful for those who are thinking of getting a travel insurance. It’s hard to tell what you might meet along the way. However, it's really good to know that you have something to rely on, it case something does happen to you. Happy travels!

    Clifton Johnson @ Insuring the Product

  6. This BLOG is completely inaccurate and wrong and is putting a lot of premature babies at risk when travelling abroad. Insurance companies are notorious in looking at ways to get out of paying big medical bills and a lot on your BLOG is not only misleading but also dangerous. You say not to disclose too much information about your premature baby before going abroad and just start the conversation with the insurer by saying your baby is simply 'premature'. You have to disclose everything and I mean everything and if you don't and your baby is rushed into hospital the insurance company will simply not pay out - PERIOD! This statement might be OK for a premature baby without many medical conditions but for us who have had premature babies very early it is a ridiculous statement.
    The majority of premature babies have one of the following ailments: Chronic Lung, PDA, ROP, Reflux, Constipation, Brain Bleeds....... The list is endless. If a baby whilst abroad was rushed into hospital with an issue and the cost of looking after that baby started to build, the insurance company would look at the babies medical records in Britain for past medical history. In seeing any undeclared medical issues it would be a first class ticket for the insurer not to pay out for expensive medical procedures and they would be perfectly within their rights.
    Secondly the ridiculous statement of: 'Ask the consultant what you need to disclose medically about your baby' is also a dangerous gamble. Although Consultants know a lot medically, they know nothing about health and travel insurance policies and it doesn't matter what they think you should disclose about your baby, you should disclose everything, if any say differently get them to read the Legal Bumpf that comes with all insurance policies. The insurance company in investigating a medical case will never go to your Consultant and ask them what your babies previous conditions were and then take that as salt, they will look at your babies medical records and learn all they need to from that. If they see your baby had a previous medical ailment and it wasn't disclosed it doesn't matter what the Consultant says, its down in black and white and they would win any battle in court.
    This BLOG needs to be removed from the web, because quite frankly its a danger to any caring parent who wants to make sure his or her premature baby is fully covered abroad. Its all very well if you went away and didn't have any issues but for parents who will have issues abroad and need expensive medical treatment for their babies, they will be in financial ruin after taking the advice of this BLOG.
    Be warned people.