It is not something you necessarily think about until it happens to you – you plan a big trip abroad somewhere, maybe the first overseas jaunt in a few years, you go to buy travel insurance – and you are refused.
Sorry, madam, we do not offer cover for people with diabetes. Or, my apologies, sir, but we only provide policies to people up to the age of 60.
The issues don’t stop with policies being harder to come by. Many people find that insurance premiums start to creep up once they reach 50, and soar considerably after 65 – there have been reports of prices for annual policies doubling. If you have a medical condition, you can expect to pay even more.
The problem for older travellers is that they are considered a higher risk of making a claim. This mainly relates to medical claims. A typical travel insurance policy will provide anywhere between £2m and £5m worth of cover for medical expenses, including hospital admissions, emergency treatment and repatriation costs. This represents by far and away the biggest proportion of the risk travel insurers take on, and many providers adopt a cautious approach.
Unfortunately for consumers, caution often translates into rather crude age caps or price hikes. The standard approach to policies for the over 50s is to apply additional price hikes year by year, making cover progressively more expensive until a cut off is reached.
A policy built around your needs
Finding travel insurance as you get older can become a hassle, but if you have a medical condition as well, you have to tread carefully. It is important to provide full disclosure of all your medical needs as failure to do so could invalidate your insurance. Even if you went on to make a claim for something completely unrelated to your condition, say for an injury sustained in a fall, your insurer could refuse to pay out.
So does that mean older travellers are doomed to paying over the odds, and perhaps not getting cover at all if they happen to have a medical condition? The good news is that some providers specialise in providing travel insurance for people 50 and over with pre-existing medical conditions. They recognise the demand in the market and offer a service accordingly.
The key thing with these niche providers is that they do not apply crude surcharges, age caps or exemptions. They instead build a policy around your needs. So if you suffer from diabetes, you will get bespoke protection for all the medical treatments you might need relating your condition, if you suffer from a heart problem you will get the same and so on.
So the moral is, to avoid the complexity surrounding travel insurance in later life – go to a specialist provider first.