Disabled people often struggle to access affordable insurance. Our research shows that 26 per cent of disabled adults feel they have been charged more for insurance or denied cover altogether because of their impairment or condition. Actress and disability campaigner Samantha Renke, who has brittle bones, shares her experiences.
Whenever I go abroad, travel insurance is always an issue. Given the nature of my impairment, and the high cost of wheelchairs, I wouldn’t dare go on holiday without it. Unfortunately, the lengthy process and the extortionate costs are something else.
Companies ask me the most intrusive questions
When I phone up to buy insurance, I have to go through a 30 to 40 minute interview. They’re not medical professionals at the end of the line but they probe into my health: Are you suicidal? Are you on medication? Have you had operations?
It’s such a lengthy process. You feel anxious. You feel interrogated. It really infuriates me because non-disabled people don’t have to disclose their mental state. Non-disabled people don’t have to disclose how much alcohol they’re going to consume. Why should disabled people be interrogated?
With brittle bones I get asked if I have scoliosis, a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side. My spine has been straightened and there is no issue, but this isn’t taken into consideration.
My travel insurance is almost as much as my flights
Then the final quote I receive is through the roof. When I went to Mexico for two weeks the quote came out at nearly £500, which was nearly as much as my flights.
I’ve always been able to find a way to pay the extortionate cost for travel insurance, but I know a lot of people wouldn’t manage. I wouldn’t go on holiday otherwise – I just wouldn’t risk it.
Ironically, I tend to be more vigilant on holiday
The irony is, with me having brittle bones, I’m not going to get on a jet ski! Disabled people on holiday are more likely to be hyper-vigilant because you’re not in your comfort zone.
I think attitudes towards seeing disabled people as ‘high risk’ needs to stop. Anyone can have accidents on holiday, anyone could die on holiday. What’s the justification for the high prices?
Hopefully things will change and disabled people will be able to ring up any old insurance company and get a quote like everybody else!
Join us in calling for better access to insurance for disabled people. Find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved.
We want to find out more about disabled people’s experiences of purchasing insurance. Please get in touch to share your story.