High blood pressure is called the Silent Killer. Yet, as dire as its nickname sounds, it will not be a deal breaker for travel health insurance unless your client deliberately or mistakenly keeps it a secret.
What you need to know
As a broker, you should remember that both high blood pressure and ignorance of the condition are common. About 17 per cent of Canadians who have it don’t know, while others believe their hypertension disappeared once they began taking their medication. So you may have to pointedly ask: “What medications do you take?”
If they say “a water pill,” tell them they’re busted!
America’s Mayo Clinic website says these particular medications (i.e., diuretics) are used to treat hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure. They control the condition, but do not cure it.
What your clients need to know
If your client is receiving treatment, that is good news, as hypertension may increase the risk of dangerous damage to the heart, kidney, brain, arteries, and eyes. So you may reassure your client that any rise in the cost of travel insurance could be minor. For example, a client who is older than 60 and taking two hypertension medications is unlikely to pay as much extra premium as a client with heart disease.
One travel plan (Quest Travel Insurance from TuGo, formerly Travel Underwriters, of Richmond BC) applies its cheapest Gold rates to those who are treated for hypertension alone, and have been in a stable condition for 365 days. Meanwhile, a 10 per cent surcharge applies to smokers eligible for the Gold rate.
More critical to policyholders with hypertension is the requirement to disclose their condition. A contract will generally be deemed void if applicants misrepresent the state of their health by failing to disclose a material fact.
Avoiding a claim denial
Rather than deny a large claim entirely for non-disclosure, the Quest and Freedom plans from TuGo warn that an extra $10,000 deductible amount will apply if those aged 60 to 89 qualify for coverage, yet trip up by failing to answer medical questions truthfully or accurately.
Some final advice and some news
Remind your clients that their doctor could recommend lifestyle changes that might help lower their blood pressure and thus save them money on insurance. Also, point out that, in December 2013, leading US experts recommended that those 60 and older may only need treatment for blood pressure greater than 150/90, instead of 140/90.