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. This page summarises what you need to know to get the best policy for your needs at a decent price.
Your legal rights
Insurance companies are not allowed to refuse to insure you because you’re disabled or offer you worse terms than other customers. However, they can apply 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.
Who does disability legislation apply to?
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a disabled person, you may 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, MS or HIV
- a mental illness such as depression
The legislation applies to anyone who has ‘a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect’ on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Things to check when buying travel insurance
If you have a heath condition 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.
You should also check that 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
Some insurance companies sell policies designed specifically for disabled people or people with health conditions. You can find many of these by doing an internet search. Alternatively, you might want to use a specialist broker to do a search of the market for you and recommend a suitable policy. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has a database of brokers that you can search by disability or medical condition.
Or you could look at the recommendations published by Which? and Martin Lewis.
How to check your travel insurance policy
If you want to check that 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.
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 in most cases it will cost you more and may also be harder to find (see ‘Your legal rights’ above). Don’t be tempted to withhold information about your condition. This could make your policy invalid and the insurance company might not pay out if you have to make a claim.
If you’re not sure what type of policy or level of cover to get, read our article Life insurance – choose the right policy and cover.
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. Alternatively, if you have a specific illness, try contacting the relevant charity for advice on life insurance. For example, Cancer Research UK offers information about life insurance for cancer sufferers.
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 are all covered for accidental damage under your contents policy.
Don’t be tempted to underinsure your contents. Add up, room by room, what everything would cost you to buy it again.
Shopping around for home insurance
If you already have car insurance
If you develop a health condition or disability you should inform your car insurance company. It can’t charge you a higher premium or increase your excess without evidence that you are 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 may be needed in the future.
Some insurance companies and brokers specialise in insurance for disabled drivers.
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has a database of brokers that you can search to find those that insure modified vehicles.