Why do travel insurance providers make an issue out of age?
Age should never be a barrier to fulfilling your dreams and living life to the full. In fact, when it comes to turning your ambitions to travel the world into reality, later life is arguably the best time to do it. Once you hit retirement, without the restrictions of work, perhaps with your family all grown up and a degree of financial freedom from paying off your mortgage – that’s when you can really spread your wings and explore.
That’s the theory anyway. Unfortunately, no one seems to have passed the message on to travel insurance companies. The truth is, the older you get, the harder it is to get travel cover, certainly at a decent price. It’s not unusual to hear stories of older people being put off heading abroad altogether as they have so many issues buying travel insurance. It gets to the point where they don’t see the hassle being worth it.
So, what’s going on? Why do travel insurance providers make an issue out of age?
One of the key things travel insurance covers you for is the cost of any medical treatment you might need while you’re abroad. As a rule, foreign visitors have to pay for medical care in any country they travel too, usually at private healthcare rates. This can make it very expensive, especially for hospital and emergency treatment. For example, if you have an accident and break your arm on holiday, in Spain you could end up paying £11,000, while in the US it could be as high as £70,000.
Travel insurance covers you for these fees, but providers are very much aware of how big the potential liabilities are. They are therefore on the ball about anything that could increase the risk of a customer needing medical attention and making a claim – things like existing medical conditions, activities which put travellers at a heightened risk of accidents and, yes, age.
To a travel insurance provider, senior travellers present a greater risk of claiming against the medical component of their travel insurance. They therefore take two approaches. One is to increase the premiums they charge to older people. This usually starts at 50, and many companies simply bump up the premium year by year, meaning travel insurance just keeps getting more and more expensive the older you get. The other step providers take is simply refusing to offer cover to older people. Many travellers over the age of 70 start to find it difficult to get any sort of policy, regardless of cost.
Fortunately, while this describes the approach taken by many mainstream travel insurance companies, it isn’t the situation with the whole industry. Some providers recognise that, added liability risks or not, senior travel insurance represents a big market, with hundreds of thousands of people aged 50 and over looking for convenient, affordable cover to support their travel plans.
Therefore, if you are finding it hard to get cover at a price you think is fair through your usual insurance channels, look elsewhere. Look up a specialist senior travel insurance provider who will offer you a policy based on your circumstances – your age, your medical history, where you are travelling to, what you intend to do there – rather than, at best, a generic policy with a big surcharge lumped on top. You will find you get better cover and pay less.