Dealing with insurance
The whole purpose of insurance is to protect us from the financial consequences of the unpredictable. Most people would expect to have no trouble getting insurance to fully cover such eventualities.
But for people with MS, that security is often either unavailable, prohibitively expensive, or inadequate for their needs.
Find out more
Our partnership with insurance broker Arthur J Gallagher ends
The commercial partnership between the MS Society and the insurance broker Arthur J Gallagher ended on 1 July 2016. This is because Arthur J Gallagher made a decision to pull out of the charity market.
You might have the heard the partnership called MS Society Insurance Services.
Please don’t worry though – if you have an existing policy through Arthur J Gallagher you’ll still have the same level of cover and protection. Arthur J Gallagher will continue to look after your policy until it ends.
However, if you want to move your policy to another provider, you are of course free to do so.
You can find information about a broker in our booklet Insurance and MS.
Can I claim on my existing insurance, now that I have MS?
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 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.
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.
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 not make a misrepresentation exists until the policy is in force.
With any policies that run for years such as:
- 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.
I have MS and I want to take out insurance
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.
Do I need specialist insurance?
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.
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. However, there are specialist brokers who may be able to source policies which do not exclude MS or other pre-existing medical conditions. You can find details of some of these brokers in our booklet Insurance and MS.
Check your policy
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.