Being diagnosed with MS means that finding the right insurance policy can be more difficult and also often more expensive to buy.
However, if you are willing to shop around, there are policies that take account of the needs of people with a long-term condition.
Insurance companies are not allowed to refuse to insure you because you have a health condition or disability. However, they can impose special conditions or increase the cost of a policy if they can show there is more chance of you needing to make a claim.
Some companies sell policies specifically for people with a health condition or disability, you can find these by searching the internet. Or, there are specialist brokers who can do a search for you and recommend a suitable policy. Standard price comparison websites may not direct you to some specialist insurance brokers.
The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) has a database of brokers which you can search by medical condition. BIBA is currently working to improve access to travel insurance for people with long term medical conditions, in response to criticism from the Financial Conduct Association.
Pre Existing Conditions is a financial information portal which researches products such as life insurance and travel insurance for people with pre existing medical conditions. They are not brokers or financial advisors, and do not allow recommendations or paid adverts on the site. Their aim is to provide well-researched information to help you make your decision.
The MS Trust is unable to recommend specific insurance companies. It is worth contacting a number of different insurers to compare prices and cover.
When looking for insurance, you need to make sure that the cover offered will be appropriate and sufficient. Standard travel, home and car insurance may not cover equipment such as wheelchairs, scooters or adaptations to your home or car. Similarly, if you need medical care whilst traveling, will your travel insurance cover all of the costs, for example accommodation so the whole family can stay if something happens to you? If your car insurance provides a temporary replacement if yours is damaged, will this take account of any adaptations you need?
Some types of insurance can be hard to find. Critical illness cover or income protection may exclude you if you have been diagnosed with a long-term condition such as MS. Alternatively, you may be offered a policy that excludes MS and any related conditions, so you would still be able to claim in some circumstances, for example if you were diagnosed with cancer, or had a stroke, but not for anything related to MS. Some insurers may offer life insurance. Availability and the level of premiums you have to pay will be based on an assessment of your health.
Telling insurers about MS
If the application for insurance asks about your health, you must answer honestly and say that you have MS. The need to disclose this information also applies if you are diagnosed in the period between applying for insurance and the policy starting.
If you took out insurance before you were diagnosed with MS, you don't need to tell the insurance company - unless there is a requirement to do so in the terms of the policy. However, if the need to make a claim on the policy might be linked to the fact that you have MS, it may be worth letting the insurer know.
If you are renewing annual policies, you should mention your diagnosis of MS at that stage.
If you are concerned about declaring your diagnosis or whether any existing policies will be affected by your having MS, check with your insurer. If you haven't mentioned MS when you should have done, you may not get the level of protection that you need and there is the danger that your policy will not pay out should you need to make a claim.
When looking for car insurance, you'll be asked whether you have any medical conditions that the DVLA are aware of - you must answer 'Yes' to this question. The insurer may ask you what the condition is, but you aren't under any obligation to disclose the condition - it's up to you whether you want to tell them that you have MS or not - the insurer simply needs to know that the DVLA have issued you with a licence and are considered fit to drive. However, be aware that if you choose not to disclose that you have MS, some insurers may decide not to provide you with a quote as it's more difficult for them to estimate the level of risk you pose if they aren't aware of what your medical condition is.
If you feel you have been discriminated against by an insurer because of your MS, in the first instance you should ask to be put in touch with the person or department at the insurance company that deals with disability discrimination legislation. If this doesn't resolve the problem, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Find out more about the number of organisations that can help you understand your rights and resolve your legal problems.
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