Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q After displaying early symptoms of angina, I underwent an angioplasty procedure. My surgeon cardiologist later confirmed that I no longer displayed any symptoms and was free from angina. Nevertheless I was charged a travel insurance premium of over £900 for a fortnight’s holiday in Florida. Although I had truthfully reported that I did not suffer from angina, the deadly words ‘or ever had’ on insurance applications apparently result in this injustice.
My heart surgeon told me he is incensed that this frequently happens with his patients. Is this a just situation?
A Justice and business are awkward bedfellows, and this frequently-raised insurance gripe is a prime example.
We’re all living longer because of advances in medicine. This poses problems for governments, let alone providers of age-related products, who have been either slow or draconian in their response to accelerating longevity.
The truth is that the insurance business is about risk. If the risk is perceived to be high, then they’ll feel justified in slapping you with what amounts to a hefty ‘fine’ for getting a bit long in the tooth.
Insurers can hit you immediately in the pocket because, unlike governments, they don’t have to worry about voter resistance.
And they don’t see why their younger and presumably fitter clients should cross-subsidise golden oldies that have been through advanced medical procedures to alleviate ongoing medical symptoms.
The insurers’ statistical boffins draw a distinction between actual and potential risk.
Once you confirm you have had a pre-medical condition, they may refuse to provide cover or, far more likely, cripple you with a hefty premium hike.
They take the view that treatments to alleviate symptoms don’t amount to a ‘cure’ and therefore their risk exposure is still potentially higher than normal.
Whether this situation is just amounts to what evidence insurers’ have to support their age discrimination.
Unfortunately they have plenty.
Justice doesn’t come into it. The secret is to shop around for travel insurance geared to senior travellers.
Try confused.com for lots of helpful tips and reasonably-priced quotes from specialist insurers.
Q I’ve only got one outside tap to water a large front garden. I believe you can get such a thing as a multiple outlet gadget so that I can connect more than one hose to the same tap. Do you know where I can get them please?
A Try your local garden centre. Most of them sell the reputable Hoselock brand of garden water fittings, including a four-point multiple hose connection unit.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at email@example.com and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.