Insurance is usually designed for a mass market, which means that people with chronic conditions like diabetes can't buy products designed with their condition in mind.
But with 12.3 million people in the UK at risk of developing diabetes, there’s a need for the insurance industry to find a way to serve this growing population better.
Buying travel insurance if you have diabetes
Travel insurance products for people with medical conditions such as diabetes are likely to cost more. And the more severe your condition, the more expensive your policy will be because the insurer believes there's a greater likelihood of having to make a payout.
In recent years, there have been some improvements that have made the process of getting travel cover easier. Most comparison sites now let you declare a medical condition when getting a quote, which makes it simpler to find the companies that will cover you and then compare their prices and policies.
And travel insurers seem to understand that some mild conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, are unlikely to cause substantial claims so they can offer policies at affordable prices. Because many holidays only last a few days, insurers are not taking on as much risk as they would with some other products.
Bear in mind that if your condition is severe you might be refused travel insurance even by some specialist providers.
Buying car insurance when you have diabetes
While travel insurance providers and comparison sites will ask you extensive questions about your condition, car insurers won’t.
If your diabetes is treated with insulin, you must notify the DVLA. If your diabetes is treated with a non-insulin medication, you need to check with your doctor or nurse whether you need to tell the DVLA. However, if you develop any condition during a policy year it's worth informing your insurer to check if it will affect your cover.
Through a scheme called MyLicence, using your driver’s licence number, car insurers can access your driving history, including conditions you’ve declared to the DVLA.
People tend to switch their car and travel products if prices get too high, whereas people can feel locked into life insurance.
Buying life insurance when you have diabetes
People with diabetes can encounter a number of obstacles when looking for life insurance because health risks go hand in hand with the disease.
Most insurers will want to know a bit more about your diabetes and how you manage your condition day to day. So, in most cases a specialist will personally review your application and may ask for access to your GP records.
While this process means you’re not likely to get cover approved online and may have to wait for a decision, the process does aim to get you the best price and best terms of insurance.
Level term life insurance is a policy that can last up to 50 years and pays out a lump sum when you die.
This means that if you choose to insure yourself for £250,000, when you die and your family claims, they will receive that amount.
Critical illness is an add-on that pays a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a serious condition, it can sometimes be difficult to find critical illness cover if you have diabetes.
Diabetes.co.uk has partnered with an insurer to offer life cover to people with diabetes, but their policies exclude critical illness for people who have Type 1 diabetes.
The one life insurance product we found providers were willing to offer an immediate price for online was decreasing life cover. The payout amount decreases over time and therefore poses fewer risks to insurers.
That is not to say that all providers will refuse you level term and critical illness cover or be able to offer you decreasing cover. But you will have to set aside more time to shop around for the right cover and the right price than someone without diabetes. And that’s why we are asking for help in designing new products for people with a chronic illness like diabetes.
Do insurers treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes differently?
Insurers may treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes differently.
According to Diabetes UK's State of the Nation Diabetes report, people with Type 1 diabetes are less likely to maintain stable cholesterol and blood pressure levels than people with Type 2 and are more likely to suffer eye problems.
This might be because Type 1 diabetes, as an autoimmune condition, is more difficult to control with lifestyle choices. As a result, people with Type 1 may be quoted higher premiums or be refused cover.
Type 2 diabetes responds well to lifestyle changes and is easier to control, however, this does not necessarily mean a person with Type 2 with a bad BMI will be quoted lower premiums than a person with Type 1. That depends on how severe your condition is and whether you’ve suffered complications.
But regardless of the type of diabetes that you have or its severity, the market should adjust to accommodate the needs of people with diabetes and make the process of purchasing easier.