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Buying insurance if you’re ill or disabled

Buying the right insurance policy at an affordable price can be tricky if you have a disability or health condition. Here we summarise what you need to know to get the best policy for your needs at a decent price.

Insurance companies can refuse to insure you if they consider the risk to be too high. They can also apply exclusions or special conditions or charge you extra for a policy if they can show that there’s a greater risk of you needing to make a claim.

But they should explain the reason you’ve been refused or had special conditions or an extra premium applied. 

Who does disability legislation apply to?

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a disabled person, you might have the legal right not to be discriminated against because of your condition.

For example, if you have:

●     a physical health condition such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or HIV

●     a mental health condition such as depression.

The legislation, under the Equality Act 2010, applies to anyone who has ‘a physical or mental condition that has a serious, long-term effect’ on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

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Travel insurance

Things to check when buying travel insurance

If you have a health condition, illness or a disability – referred to by insurers as a ‘pre-existing condition’ – you need to take particular care when shopping around for travel insurance. If you don’t disclose information about your condition when asked by the insurance company, your insurance could be invalid and you might find it harder to secure insurance in future.

It’s important to check the policy covers any expensive equipment you need to take with you.

Where to buy travel insurance if you’re disabled or have a medical condition

If you have a medical condition, or you’ve had a serious illness, travel insurance might be hard to get.

Our Travel Insurance Directory has contact details of providers who specialise in providing travel insurance for people with serious medical conditions. 

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How to check your travel insurance policy

If you want to check the policy you’re about to buy is good enough, we’ve come up with a list of features and levels of cover for you to check it against.

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Life insurance

If you already have life cover

If you already have a life insurance policy and you develop a health condition or disability you don’t have to inform your insurance company unless it specifically asks you to in the policy.

Whatever you do, don’t cancel your policy, because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to replace it on similar terms now that you have what insurers call a ‘pre-existing condition’.

Things you need to know when buying life insurance

Being disabled or having a medical condition shouldn’t prevent you getting life cover, but, depending on your condition, in many  cases, it’ll cost you more and might also be harder to find.  .

The chances of you being offered an affordable policy will depend on factors including the severity of your disability, its impact on your life expectancy and the extent to which it affects your daily routine. Don’t be tempted to withhold information about your condition.

This might make your policy invalid and the insurance company might not pay out if you must make a claim.

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Where to buy life insurance if you’re disabled or have a medical condition

You might want to use a specialist broker to research the market for you and recommend a suitable policy. There are advisers and brokers that specialise in finding insurance for people who are disabled or have medical conditions.

The BIBA Find Insurance service can again help with this.

Alternatively, if you have a specific illness, try contacting the relevant charity for advice on life insurance.

For example, Cancer Research UK or Macmillan Cancer Support offers information about life insurance for cancer sufferers.

It’s important to shop around and compare different insurers — criteria and approaches can vary significantly between different providers. Some insurers may offer a life insurance policy with exclusions, which will pay-out in the event of a death, unless the death is a result of the disability.

Things to watch out for when buying life insurance – on the Which? website.

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Home insurance

Should you mention your disability when buying home insurance?

The fact that you are disabled or have a health condition should not affect your ability to get competitive home insurance cover.

Lots of expensive equipment to cover?

If your home has been adapted with expensive items such as stair lifts, hoists and bath lifts, make sure they’re all covered for accidental damage under your contents policy.

Don’t be tempted to under-insure your contents. Add up, room by room, what everything would cost you to buy it again.

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Shopping around for home insurance

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Car insurance

If you already have car insurance

If you develop a health condition or disability that might affect your ability to drive, it’s important to tell your car insurance company.

If you have a mental health problem that might impact your driving, such as psychosis, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, you must inform the DVLA so they can assess if you’re safe to continue driving.

Your GP might also recommend that you inform the DVLA if you have a mental health problem that might potentially impact on your ability to drive, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. But your car insurance provider can’t charge you a higher premium or increase your excess without evidence that you’re an increased risk.

If you’re driving an adapted vehicle

If you drive a vehicle that’s been specially adapted to meet your needs, the insurance company can increase their charges to offset the increased cost of repairs that might be needed in the future.

When you’re getting a quote it’s worth checking with the insurer that your premium would cover your specific needs, such as the kind of courtesy car you would need.

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Some insurance companies and brokers specialise in insurance for disabled drivers.

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The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has Find Insurance service that can put you in touch with a specialist insurance broker to help you find a provider that insures modified vehicles.

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What to do if you think you’ve been discriminated against

While there are certain situations when insurers can refuse you or offer you special terms , there have been situations where people have been wrongly refused cover on the basis of their physical or mental health.

Under the Equality Act you can challenge an insurance provider if you think a risk assessment isn't based on a reliable or relevant source of information.

If you think this has happened to you, you can first complain to the company involved and then, depending on the outcome, to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
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