Going away on holiday might seem like a distant memory, but with foreign travel expected to be allowed from 17 May, if you are planning an overseas break, it’s a good time to start thinking about travel insurance.
The unfortunate truth is that once you reach your 50s, travel insurance premiums start increasing as insurance companies think you are more likely to make a claim. In addition, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s likely that your travel insurance costs will rise even more.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to pay through the nose for your cover, but it does mean that you may need to look a bit harder to find the best deals.
Here we explain how travel insurance works and some tips and tricks to help keep your costs down.
Are you already covered?
Before setting out to find travel insurance, it’s worthwhile checking whether you need it, or whether you already have cover. Travel insurance is not mandatory, but can provide valuable peace of mind that if you have to cancel your break, or any valuables are lost or stolen while you’re away, your financial losses will be covered. According to comparison site, Finder.com, over 80% of people aged 45 and over choose to purchase it for their travels.
You may already have some level of travel insurance, as many people are covered as part of the range of benefits that are often provided by packaged current accounts. If your current account does come with travel insurance, it’s best to check the fine print of your policy so that you’re clear on exactly what is and isn’t covered.
The cover and exclusions that apply may change depending on your age. So, for example, Nationwide offers package travel insurance for their qualifying FlexAccount holders, but it will only cover you if you are aged 69 or younger. The Co-op’s packaged bank account travel insurance, however, will cover you up until the age of 79.
If your main concern is cover for health or medical care whilst you are away and you are travelling in europe, you may be covered through the European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC). This provides cover for care in all 36 european countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The UK Global Health Insurance Card (or GHIC) is slowly replacing the EHIC, but provides the same cover. It’s worth noting that the card may not cover all of your medical costs, so you may still need travel insurance to cover you. For more information on this, have a look at our article Everything you need to know about the Global Health Insurance Card.
Travel Insurance as you get older
Travel insurance premiums tend to increase as you get older. At the time of writing, these were the average premiums available for the following age bands:
|Age||Average travel insurance premium|
*These premiums are based on a single two week trip to Europe for someone with no declared pre-existing conditions or awaiting diagnosis. **These quotes were obtained from comparethemarket.com on 29.04.21. Premiums will vary depending on circumstance and some prices are currently higher due to enhanced Covid-19 cover
As well as premiums increasing as you age, the other key differences you may notice as you get older are your insurer:
- Reduces the maximum length of trip they will cover you for
- Puts a limit on the number of places you can travel to
- Reduces the amount you will get as your personal accident benefit, which essentially means how much of a payout you will get if you have a lasting injury as a result of an accident
It’s often not until you reach your mid-60s that these limits and reductions really start to take effect. It’s important to read the small print before buying your policy to make sure you aren’t being caught out by anything.
Seeing the prices creep up when buying travel insurance is disheartening, but don’t be tempted to make any false claims in your application. It’s vital to always be completely honest when applying for your travel insurance and declare all medical conditions, as any omission might invalidate your policy.
The details of travel insurance change for each age bracket, so we have covered off some key points to be aware of for some of the standard age bands that insurers use:
Travel insurance cover for over 50s
The majority of standard travel insurance policies will cover people between the ages of 50 and 64 without too much a price hike, but you may notice that price creeps up a little more each year.
There is a specific market for over 50s travel insurance with insurers who specialise in policies with higher, or no, upper age limits and extra items might be covered i.e. mobility aids. For people who have additional needs as they get older this type of insurance can mean they get the best cover for their needs. However, if you don’t have any additional needs, you might be better off looking at the mainstream travel insurance offerings as buying over 50s insurance may mean you are paying for extra benefits you don’t need.
Travel insurance cover for over 65s
Once you turn 65, you might notice the cost of your travel insurance creeping up and more restrictions are likely to be applied to your policy. Nevertheless there are still a range of policies available at a wide variety of price points.
If you are planning to go skiing or do another winter sport, it’s worth knowing that a large number of insurers will only cover you for these sorts of activities up to the age of 64. Do not worry though, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find cover, but you will have to check your policy carefully for exclusions.
Travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions
Having a pre-existing medical condition does not always mean that you will have to pay steep premiums or that you will be refused travel insurance. The cover you are eligible for and the amount it costs will depend on what pre-existing medical condition you have, how recently you have been treated for it and any medication you are taking. There are plenty of providers out there who may be prepared to cover you, and comparison sites such as payingtoomuch.com, comparethemarket.com and MoneySuperMarket will have insurers that cover pre-existing conditions.
It’s very important that when you apply for travel insurance that you are honest on your application and declare your condition and all related information. When declaring your condition you will usually be asked a series of questions that will help the insurer to fully understand your current condition.
If you are struggling to find a travel insurance policy that will cover your pre-existing condition, have a look at the next section for some more guidance.
Travel insurance cover for serious illnesses or recent diagnoses
Many insurers are less likely to provide travel insurance cover if you:
- Have any undiagnosed symptoms
- Have received a terminal prognosis
- Are awaiting any tests, test results, investigations
- Are awaiting surgery, or are waiting to be discharged from post-operative checks
This is a fairly vague list, but the following conditions are usually the ones that would fall under this classification: cancer, stroke or serious heart condition, respiratory conditions or conditions that have been diagnosed as terminal. For more information on finding travel insurance if you have cancer, have a look at our article Travel insurance if you have cancer.
While you may not consider youseIf to have a serious illness, if you have been rejected by a number of insurers they may view you to fall into one of the above categories, and you may need to look for insurance as if you do have a serious condition.
A serious or terminal illness does not mean that you can’t travel. There are some specialist insurers that might be able to offer you cover. The easiest way for you to find cover is through the Money Advice Service’s Travel Insurance Directory which is a list of 31 specialist insurers who provide insurance for people who are more likely to need medical intervention while they are away. The British Insurance Brokers Association also has a list of local insurers who may be able to help you.
If you are applying for this type of travel insurance online, the insurers will probably ask you to call a number or fill out a form with your medical history. If there is ever anything you are unsure about, it is best to call the insurer and speak to them directly.
If you have medical equipment you need to take away with you, it’s important to check that it will be covered by your policy. Another point is to make sure you have a 24-hour helpline available in case you have a medical emergency while you are away.
7 tips for keeping travel insurance costs down
- Don’t book cover last minute – so many of us book travel insurance last minute, but booking travel insurance at the same time as you book your holiday will make sure you are covered for any trip cancellation as well as for the time you are away.
- Shop around – there are a number of insurance brokers and comparison sites that specialise in cover for over 50s as well as people with pre-existing conditions, or recent medical diagnoses.
- Do it yourself – if you are booking your holiday through an agency, they will often offer you their travel insurance as part of your package. These policies are often sold at inflated prices, so if you can, it’s best to look for standalone cover yourself.
- Opt for a larger excess (the portion of any insurance claim you must pay yourself) – as with any insurance, the larger excess you choose, the less your premium is likely to be. So if you can cover the cost of a larger excess, it might be worth considering, but make sure you’ll be able to afford to make a claim.
- Check your coverage options – you may be paying more for optional extras like cover for lost or stolen baggage that you may not need or want.
- If you are making more than two or more trips in a year, it’s worthwhile looking at a multi-trip annual policy rather than several single trip policies. This type of policy will cover you for being away for a set number of days a year, for example 183 out of 365. Be aware however that as you get older, the length of time you will be covered for is likely to reduce, so it’s worth checking the fine print on this to make sure you are covered for enough time. Multi-trip often works out cheaper than buying insurance separately for individual trips.
- Make sure you choose the right travel insurance policy to suit your needs. If, for example, you are going on a cruise then specialist cruise insurance is best, or if you are going on a number of trips in one year then a multi-trip policy is likely to be the most cost-effective option. Getting the right type of policy means that you are more likely to be covered for the types of scenarios that might occur in each environment.
Have you recently bought or made a claim on a travel insurance policy? Or have you struggled to find a policy that will cover your pre-existing medical condition? If so, we’d be interested in hearing from you. You can join the money conversation on the Rest Less community or leave a comment below.