Insurance and MS
But for people with MS, that security is often either unavailable, prohibitively expensive, or inadequate for their needs.
- I already have MS – what do I do about my insurance policies?
- I have MS and I want to take out insurance
- Do I need specialist insurance?
- Check your policy
Depending on the type of insurance you have, you may be able to make a claim on policies you already hold.
Some examples of policies that may be able to help you financially are those which:
- will pay out either a lump sum - for example, critical illness cover
- help with income replacement - for example, income protection
- pay some medical bills - for example, private medical insurance.
In general you’ll need to check the small print to find out if your policy covers MS, and under what circumstances it will pay out.
The claims section of your policy will have details of how to claim, and any conditions it covers.
For products like income protection and private medical insurance, each will have its own lists of exclusions and small print about what and how it will pay out. Each should be checked thoroughly. Timing is also important - if they pay out, they will only do so for a limited time - typically 12 to 24 months.
With most policies, you need to tell them about the diagnosis within a certain timescale.
Where private health care is concerned, conditions like MS, which are long-term and incurable, are typically not covered, although the costs of diagnosis (seeing a neurologist or other specialist and paying for tests) may be covered. Your provider should have a helpline to answer your questions.
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If you took out insurance before you knew you had MS, there is no requirement to tell your insurer about any changes to your condition since the policy started, unless you are making a claim, or unless the policy terms require you to do so.
If you are in any doubt, you can ask your insurer about what you are required to disclose.
However, if you are diagnosed in between the time you apply for the policy and when it goes ‘on risk’ (that is, the date the insurer starts to cover you) then you must tell the insurer. Even though the information you gave in your application was correct at the time, your duty to disclose any relevant information exists until the policy is in force.
With any policies that run for years like:
- private medical
- critical illness
- income protection
You must update the insurer about your condition. If you don’t, and you have to make a claim, you may not be covered.
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MS will undoubtedly affect your ability to take out some forms of insurance, and will often result in heavier premiums. Standard home and motor insurance policies are likely to bump up premiums if you want to add anything outside their ordinary terms – to insure a wheelchair for example.
Despite this, you must be upfront about your condition when applying for insurance - insurers are unlikely to pay out on claims arising from MS if you took out the cover knowing you had the condition, but didn't tell them.
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Standard travel insurance, home insurance and motor policies may not be adequate for people with MS. The cost of insuring equipment, special adaptations to vehicles, or even carers, may not be covered.
Those seeking travel insurance are likely to find that medical and cancellation cover for MS-related illnesses are commonly excluded. Most travel insurance policies will exclude all pre-existing medical conditions. This means that you would be unable to claim under the policy for any medical expenses or cancellation of the holiday due to a pre-existing medical condition - including MS.
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It is important you check your policy to ensure that it provides you with the cover you have purchased. If you are in any doubt, contact your insurer and ask them to clarify exactly what cover is provided for claims resulting from anything to do with your MS.
Insurers which at first glance seem to be more expensive may turn out to be more accommodating in the end.
There are policies, however, which cater more specifically for the needs of people with MS by including their requirements as standard, or providing special types of insurance.