Travel Insurance: Tell the Whole Truth

Almost all travel insurance policies ask questions about your health or require you to meet specified medical eligibility standards: don’t lie, shade the truth, tell only part of the truth, or conveniently forget. If you do, and you have a claim: you will get caught.

You can be sure that any sizeable claim will generate an investigation of your medical records, perhaps going back years. And any inconsistencies, whether they relate to the medical condition that caused your claim or not, may invalidate your coverage. Your  insurer has the legal right, and obligation,  to do so.  Paying bad claims, cost everybody—even those who never generate a claim—a lot of money.  That’s why the courts traditionally hold for the insurer when it comes to a matter of non-disclosure on a claim denial.

I know of many claimants who say they forgot to list a treatment they had for gallstones, or angina, or a minor stroke because it is no longer a problem and their doctor told them they are cured.  They say they didn’t think it important and they answered the questionnaire in good faith.  Well, good faith doesn’t mean very much when you’re facing a hospital bill for $150,000  after your insurer voids your claim for non-disclosure or misrepresentation.

If you want the insurer to cover you for up to $5 million, you need to take some time and make sure your application for coverage is complete and accurate.  Try telling a bank you made a mistake “in good faith” when completing a mortgage application and see what happens.

Medical costs around the world are horrendously expensive, and when you are under the knife you want only the best.  That costs, and that’s why medical applications for travel insurance are not formalities—they are contracts and you need to treat them as such.

There are people who run to the media crying “foul” when hit with a claim denial, complaining the insurer denied them “on a small technicality.” Contracts are nothing more than listings of small technicalities, and they can work in your favour as well as against you.

You don’t need a lawyer to buy insurance.  But you do need to be careful, honest, thorough and fully cognizant that you have a responsibility to lay out the complete truth when applying for coverage, just as your insurer has to pay your claim when you have done so.

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