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Do You Struggle to Find Travel Insurance?


Having a pre-existing medical condition like fibromyalgia can make it difficult to secure comprehensive travel insurance at a reasonable premium. You can be penalised for taking medications, being on a hospital waiting list or having more than one illness, leading to astronomical premiums, huge excesses or even a refusal to cover you at all.

Due to these problems some travellers, understandably, often avoid sharing their medical history and end up travelling uninsured, leaving the gate open to some frightening situations. Did you know that in the USA, for example, it can cost up to £5,000 per day just for your bed, before you have even seen a doctor? You simply can't afford to travel uninsured, but how do you find a reasonable deal with a reputable firm?

In response to the difficulties people experience, an organisation called Medical Information Anywhere (MIA) has joined forces with Master Travel Insurance Consultants to come up with a product that will allow people with pre-existing conditions to purchase insurance at a reasonable cost with standard excesses.

Their prices start from as little as £34.50 for 5 days in Europe and remain at this price whether you have one pre-existing condition or five, take two medications or ten. There is no horrendous excess when you make a claim and MIA is able to offer impressive travel information and guidance before you leave, along with some additional bonuses.

"We are experts in this field with 40 years experience between us," says Jan Dalrymple-White, operations director of MIA. "When people come to us they will know exactly what they are getting. We can provide a list of good countries to visit and even check out their medical facilities for you. Most destinations within Europe are no problem at all, but some eastern Mediterranean countries, for example some of the Greek islands, do not offer the best medical care so we like to steer people away from these areas for the sake of their health."

Anyone taking out an insurance policy through MIA receives the additional bonus of a free MIA membership policy, "This allows each traveller to have all their medical conditions and medications registered on our files so that if there is an emergency and they are wheeled into hospital in Poland all they have to do is call our concierge line, printed on their MIA ID card, and we can release relevant medical information, for example, any allergies they may have, current medication etc," explains Jan. "We can even provide details of the local hospital that can be shown to a taxi driver and in some cases, where there is a linguistic concern, a letter in the language of the country can be provided to introduce the patient and provide instructions concerning how the hospital can obtain further information."

Currently, this comprehensive policy is restricted to Europe, though, somewhat surprisingly, that does include Switzerland, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Greenland, Reunion and French Guyana. "Basically, it has to do with how we can recover medical costs for the insurers," explains Jan. "These countries have a reciprocal agreement to supply medical treatment under the EHIC agreement. There are other countries that also offer the reciprocal agreement but I wouldn't want to be there with a cold let alone a serious illness! We hope down the line to be able to extend the cover world-wide."

So what about covering fibromyalgia? Is there any difficulty with this unpredictable condition? "You can only buy your insurance two months before you travel (to ensure the stability of health) and you need to get a sign off from your GP or medical consultant to say that they believe you to be medically fit to travel on your proposed trip," explains Jan. "We don't ask for a letter, as GPs tend to charge for those these days, the doctor simply has to enter it into their notes on the screen to say, 'I saw Mrs Smith, off to Benidorm, no problem medically.' So, if you have a sign off from your doctor then covering fibromyalgia should not be an issue."

"I would probably advise for a condition like fibromyalgia that short haul would be preferable to long haul holidays, which is rather self evident, but there is a huge difference between flying to Switzerland and flying to the Canary Islands for example," he continues. "It is just something that people might like to bear in mind; it isn't that we wouldn't cover them it is just something we would probably point out to them. They might also want to consider the heat and altitude factors which may affect fatigue symptoms."

As far as medications and hospital waiting lists go fibromyalgia should not present any issues. "A standard routine appointment to see a doctor concerning fibromyalgia would not present a problem," says Jan. "Problems would arise if someone said 'I have fibromyalgia, oh and when I come back I have an appointment for an investigation into my heart murmur', that would be another story. It also doesn't matter what medications people are taking," he continues, "we take the view that if the doctor is happy with it then they are obviously on medication because it helps them. Why would you penalise someone for taking statins to keep their cholesterol under control, for example? It simply doesn't make sense to penalise people, I would rather have a person who is taking statins for their cholesterol than one who isn't being treated for it."

If you end up having to cancel your holiday because of your fibromyalgia then MIA can offer you up to £1000 compensation. This offers enormous peace of mind as you know that if you happen to flare up within the 60 days before you travel you can rest assured that £1000 of your expenses is covered. Another bonus that offers peace of mind applies to travelling companions: if they also take out travel insurance with MIA then, if you fall ill during your holiday, their additional costs of travel and accommodation will be covered to allow them to stay with you but uniquely their own policy will also be extended so they don't have to worry about their own health or mishaps while they help you recover.

"No other policy provides this cover," assures Jan. If you wish to travel outside of Europe then MIA do have what they call 'friendly policies' for other destinations, which are policies they can recommend but can't guarantee the exact price or whether all medical conditions would be covered. What they do say is that if they can find you a policy then you won't get it any cheaper policy for existing illnesses anywhere else, so if you want to travel world-wide it is still worth giving them a call. What they can't provide at the moment is annual insurance as these policies are specifically designed for people with pre-existing conditions and a lot can happen within a year.

These new policies could be the beginning of fair premiums for people with pre-existing conditions and perhaps open new doors for those exciting trips abroad. For Jan Pugh, from the Shrewsbury Fibromyalgia Support Group, it is certainly good news. "I have four pre-existing medical conditions: fibromyalgia, arthritis, thyroid problems and menieres," explains Jan. "I was recently quoted £159 by Barclays travel insurance for a trip to Europe and that did not cover everything." She found that MIA offered a very polite and friendly service and would consider taking out one of their policies in the future.


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