Belfast Telegraph

Financial watchdog to probe insurance access issues

The challenges faced by cancer patients in finding suitable travel insurance are being probed by a watchdog.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seeking views and evidence of the challenges firms face in providing travel insurance for consumers who have, or have had, cancer, and the problems for these travellers in accessing cover.

It will also look at the reasons for pricing differences in premiums quoted.

The move is part of a wider focus by the FCA on problems people can face when trying to find insurance that meets their needs.

The regulator wants to hear about e xamples of innovative practices in the current market, a ny barriers that firms face in addressing existing challenges or that prevent innovation, and p otential improvements that could result in better consumer outcomes.

Feedback should be received by the FCA by September 15, and the watchdog expects to release a statement in late 2017 with its findings and set out what it plans to do in light of the responses.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: "Being able to access financial services is critical for people to fully participate in society.

"We hope that this will encourage discussion on access issues to examine the challenges for firms and consumers."

James Bridge, head of conduct regulation at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: "Travel insurance is widely available for people who have long-term and serious health conditions, including people who have cancer.

"For customers that are struggling to find cover, we would advise approaching a specialist provider, who should be able to offer insurance based on their particular circumstances, including what type of illness they have.

"Insurers are always striving to find new ways to develop products that are affordable and accessible, regardless of circumstances.

"Travel insurers support and help thousands of travellers and their families should the worst happen, paying nearly nine in 10 claims in 2016.

"We look forward to engaging with the FCA on this issue going forward."