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Travel insurance for disabled people

There are many different types of travel insurance available.

You will need to decide what type of cover you require and check thoroughly that the policy you choose suits your needs.

As well as the ‘usual’ types of cover, for example, flight delays and theft of belongings, there are other things to check when choosing an insurance policy. These include cover:

  • for any medical costs that arise from your impairment – as many policies do not cover claims arising from ‘pre-existing medical conditions’
  • if an airline is unable to carry you for any reason, for example, a change of plane type to one that is not accessible.

Always take out travel insurance even if you are travelling within the UK.

This is especially important if you are taking special equipment such as wheelchairs or in the likelihood of you needing medical attention, which may cut short your holiday.

Medical information

Standard insurance cover excludes claims resulting from a pre-existing medical condition.

However, it’s important to declare any pre-existing medical conditions when arranging insurance.

This refers to any illness or health problem that existed or has been diagnosed prior to you going on holiday.

The insurance company may ask for specific details, or your doctor may need to complete a form stating that you are fit to travel. You may be asked to sign a form stating that you are not, for example, awaiting treatment.


If you need to take expensive disability equipment with you, make sure that it is insured for loss or damage.

Mobility aids – including wheelchairs and scooters – are unlikely to be covered by standard travel insurance policies. You may have to pay an extra premium. Sometimes your household insurance may provide cover for these items.

Specialist insurance?

Most insurance companies offer cover to disabled people that meets their needs.

However, some insurers do not cover people who have a severe medical condition or a history of mental illness. You may need to arrange cover with a specialist insurer.

A specialist insurer may be right for you if you are travelling outside the UK for a long period of time.

Your rights

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 aims to end the discrimination which many disabled people face.

Part 3 of the Act relates to ‘service providers’ which includes insurance and travel companies providing services within the UK.

Companies have a duty to make sure that, as a disabled customer, you are not unjustifiably treated less favourably than other customers for a reason related to your disability.

However, the law allows insurers to differentiate between disabled and non-disabled people.

They may charge a higher premium if they can show that insuring a disabled person is a greater ‘risk’ than a non-disabled person.

The insurance company must be able to justify this difference by using accurate, relevant and reliable information and ‘evidence’.

If you’re not happy with your insurance company

Most issues and complaints are normally sorted out with the company.

If they have a customer complaints service, the duties of the DDA require them to take reasonable steps to make this accessible for disabled people to use.

The Association of British Insurers has consumer information relating to all types of insurance – including travel and what to do if things go wrong.

If you can’t resolve matters with your insurance company, the Financial Ombudsman Service can provide you with a free, independent service for resolving disputes with financial companies. They provide information in various formats including Braille and audiotape.

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