Over 60 and heading abroad? Don’t forget your travel insurance

·5-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

With the kids off their hands and plenty of time and money to spend, the over-sixties are more likely to enjoy foreign travel than any other age group. Whether a trip involves a cultural long weekend, or trekking through a jungle on an adventure holiday, travel insurance is essential.

A delayed flight, stolen passports or mystery illness can quickly transform a relaxing getaway into a nightmare holiday. Having the right cover for your travels will ensure that you’re neither stranded nor left out of pocket thanks to unseen mishaps.

I’m in my sixties. What cover do I need on my travel insurance?

Medical cover is the most important thing to consider when buying travel insurance. Fall ill overseas and, without the equivalent of an NHS to look after you, your treatment costs can quickly run into thousands of pounds.

As well as picking up your treatment bills, travel insurance policies will also cover the cost of returning you home if you cannot use your original ticket, or if you need an air ambulance or special assistance.

Other important features on a policy include:

  • Baggage and belongings cover for lost, stolen or damaged baggage and personal possessions.

  • Cancellation cover, if you have to cancel or cut short a holiday because you’re unwell, or a close family member is ill or dies unexpectedly.

  • Travel delays and disruption cover, which pays out if you miss your scheduled transport or if there are delays or cancellations.

  • Personal liability, which steps in if you accidentally injure someone or damage their property and they take legal action against you for compensation.

Do I have to go for an over-sixties policy? Won’t I be covered on a standard travel insurance policy?

Yes, you would, but over-sixties travel insurance is designed with the needs of this group of holidaymakers in mind. Specialist insurers understand the risks, but also the holiday habits, of the over-sixties. With more time and money on your hands, you’re likely to be away for longer, or choose to visit somewhere more exotic. You’re also more likely to suffer from the odd health complaint or two.

The other reason you might want to seek out over-sixties cover is that some standard policies stop at age 64.

I like a few holidays a year. Is it worth having an annual policy or should I just take out cover when I need it?

If you have more than two holidays a year, an annual policy is likely to represent the best value. It also saves you having to take out a policy each time. Always check the cover is sufficient, though, as policies often have a maximum duration for your time away.

How much will an over-sixties travel insurance policy cost me?

That depends on a variety of different factors including where you’re going, the level of cover you need, how long you’re away, your age and your medical history. Premiums do increase with age and you can also expect to pay more if you’ve picked up any health conditions along the way.

Talking of health conditions, I’m on medication for high blood pressure. Will that affect my cover?

It might. Like many sexagenarians, it’s not unusual to have a medical condition and your travel insurer will try its best to arrange cover so you can still enjoy your holidays. During the application process, they’ll ask for details of your blood pressure and any other health issues so they can decide whether it can be included on your policy and if you need to pay extra.

Can I take the risk and not mention it?

That’s a very high-risk strategy. Fail to disclose a health issue and you could find your claim is declined, leaving you to foot the bill for any medical treatment. There are specialist insurers out there who can cover even the most serious medical conditions so don’t worry too much.

What medical conditions will they cover?

You name it and an insurer will probably cover it. Common conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer can all be covered up to a high level of severity and, even if you’ve got a terminal prognosis, or you’re on a course of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, you can still get travel insurance.

What should I do if I take out an annual travel insurance policy and then my GP diagnoses me with a health problem?

Tell your insurer. Although you’ve got cover in place, they will need to know to ensure they can offer you the right cover.

Also, if you’re travelling in the EU, make sure you take your UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if it’s still valid. This lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or, sometimes, for free. Insurers will often expect you to have a card alongside your travel insurance.

Are there any exclusions on policies for the over-sixties?

Common exclusions include extreme sports and accidents that happen when you’re under the influence of drugs or drink. Your insurer will also expect you to act responsibly, looking after luggage and giving yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. Sleeping in isn’t an excuse for a claim.

How can I save money on my travel insurance?

Check your cover to make sure you’re not including something you won’t need. For example, opting for worldwide cover when you’re only going to Europe. Or plumping for the highest level of cover when you’re off on a budget holiday.

Adding a larger excess can help to bring costs down. This will mean you’ll have to pay more if you need to claim. But if you only take out travel insurance for the medical cover, that might not be such an issue.

How do I find the best over-sixties travel insurance policy?

Shop around. Insurers have very different attitudes to risk so you may find that premiums and cover vary greatly, especially if you have any health conditions.

If your medical record reads a bit like a weekly shopping list or you’d like to do something a bit more adventurous, it might be worth speaking to a specialist insurance broker. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association can put you in touch with a specialist. Call 0370 950 1790, or visit Find Insurance - The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (biba.org.uk).

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