Aged 50 or Over? Here’s a Quick Guide to Travel Insurance Essentials
As far as traveling is concerned, you don’t hit your prime until you are in your 50s and 60s. These are the age groups that travel more than anyone else, spend more on holidays than anyone else, and, in the aftermath of COVID-19, are showing the greatest hunger to get back traveling than anyone else.
When the roadmap out of lockdown in the UK was announced at the start of 2021, it was people in this age group that drove the resurgence in holiday bookings – travel firm TUI reported that 50% of its bookings at the time came from over-50s.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Once your children are grown up and have flown the nest, once you have paid off the mortgage and retired, you have both the time and the financial means to enjoy exploring the world more.
But in other ways, age puts a few barriers in the way of your traveling aspirations. Something that concerns a lot of people as they hit 50, especially if they have a medical condition, is getting travel insurance to cover themselves for their adventures.
So what exactly is the deal with travel insurance once you reach your 50s and beyond? In this article, we’ll cover all the main things you need to know about getting the cover you need in your later years so you can keep traveling to your heart’s content.
Do I have to pay more for travel insurance as I get older?
Unfortunately, yes. While most types of businesses are not allowed to charge people more because of their age (it’s against equality laws), insurance companies get a free pass. This is because older travelers are more likely to make a claim against their policies. Insurance companies base their business model on charging according to a calculation of risk. If their expected liabilities change, so does what they charge.
Most travel insurance providers start to increase prices from the age of 50 onwards. What attracts a lot of flak from customers and consumer groups is the way that they do it – many simply apply an automatic increase every year after the age of 50, without any consideration of individual circumstances. By the time you get to your late 60s and 70s, these by-rote increases can take policy costs into the realms of the unaffordable.
The positive news is that not all insurance companies operate like this. Some specialise in over 50s travel insurance and make a point of offering fair prices based on the individual, not their age.
What if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
Another complication for older travelers is getting travel insurance if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition – one of those occupational hazards of aging.
Every travel insurance policy includes cover for the cost of medical treatment abroad, which tourists usually have to pay for at private rates (or at least pay a portion of the costs). But this cover is intended to protect you against unforeseen illnesses and accidents. Your insurance company will pay out for general treatment and care (including emergency care), but not for specific treatments linked to a specific condition.
If you tell your insurance provider about your medical condition, they will either decline to sell you a policy or else slap a hefty surcharge on top. If you don’t declare it and then have to make a claim, your insurance company will look into your medical history and declare your policy void for non-disclosure.
Again, while this sounds quite depressing, the light at the end of the tunnel is that certain providers also specialize in travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions. These are usually the same providers that cater to older travelers. They will offer special policies for different conditions that include cover for specific medical interventions, and they will charge according to an evaluation of your health at the time you travel.
So if you’re in good health and the risks of your condition causing you issues while you are away are slim, you won’t have to pay the Earth for medical cover.
Will I have to undergo medical to get travel insurance?
You shouldn’t have to, no. The companies that specialize in providing travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions rely on disclosure rather than asking you to submit to an examination. You’ll be asked a series of questions about your medical history, and as long as you answer honestly, you should be fine.
The questionnaire should only focus on the past two years and will cover things like any diagnoses you’ve had from your doctor, any medication you’ve been prescribed, and any surgery you’ve had.
Does my COVID vaccination status affect my travel insurance?
In a lot of cases, yes. More and more providers are shying away from offering travel cover to people who have chosen not to take up the offer of a COVID vaccine, especially if you are over the age of 50 and/or have a pre-existing medical condition.
It’s important to note that this won’t apply if you have a valid reason not to have had the vaccine, such as a medical exemption. What a lot of insurers say is that if you have accepted the offer of any COVID vaccines, you will be covered. For anyone aged over 50, that means having the first two jabs. If you have not yet been offered a booster jab, that won’t apply as the rollout of boosters is not yet complete.
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