HUNDREDS of thousands of British holidaymakers are jeopardising their insurance by failing to tell insurers of their medical conditions, according to research.

Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance found that over half a million Britons travelled abroad last year with a long-term medical complaint but did not inform their insurer, potentially invalidating any claim they may have needed to make.

Many travel insurance policies offer customers the opportunity to cover most medical conditions. But despite this, Sainsbury’s Finance estimates that around 245,000 holiday makers failed to inform their insurer despite suffering from severe back pain, 110,000 people travelled abroad last year with a respiratory condition without informing their insurer, and a staggering 50,000 people are also estimated to have gone on holiday abroad whilst keeping their insurer in the dark about their heart condition.

Roughly one in five (22%) people who failed to notify their insurer did so as they had a long standing condition which they did not consider relevant to reveal.

Other reasons for not informing insurers of medical conditions included embarrassment about discussing medical conditions over the phone and the fear of being refused a policy.

An estimated 340,000 people, equivalent to 8% of those who travelled abroad with a medical condition in the last 12 months, did so with no travel insurance whatsoever.

Scott Gorman, Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance Manager, said: “Good travel insurance can prove vital if you fall ill abroad so it’s really important that people are open and honest with their insurer. The costs of medical treatment abroad can be exceptionally high and simply omitting to give details of a pre-existing condition because you felt it wasn’t relevant could, in the event of an accident or further illness, prove very costly indeed.

“The travel insurance market has grown considerably in recent years and those with common medical conditions should now be able to find a provider who will offer fair and competitive cover. For those with more serious medical conditions there are specialist insurers available. Choosing to ignore a condition and travel with potentially invalidated cover or no cover at all is simply reckless.”

Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance, tel 0800 316 1452