Q: We are a relatively healthy couple in our early seventies and have just booked a Caribbean cruise. We have experienced some health issues in the past, but I was shocked at the level of questioning travel insurers put us through when we were looking for a policy. The process felt very long and intrusive and, to add insult to injury, one insurer quoted more than £2,000 – nearly as much as the cruise. Do you have any tips for finding good-value cover?
Submitted via Which? Money magazine.
A: Travellers aged 65 or older are often charged a higher premium by insurers, as they’re statistically more likely to make a claim. But there are specialists who cater specifically for older adults, and tips you can follow to find the best possible deal.
Which? explains how older people and those with medical conditions can find affordable travel insurance.
Travel insurance policies for older customers
Once you reach the age of 65, you may find that some travel insurance providers won’t cover you. But there are policies available that cater for all ages.
The table below shows the three specialist travel insurance providers with the best rates for 70-year-olds with a pre-existing medical condition. These conditions could include high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease.
In addition to these, some providers have no upper age limit – for example, Age UK travel insurance and Co-op travel insurance.
A recent launch from Insurtech, Bought By Many offers travel insurance specifically for people with serious medical conditions, with no upper age limit and no medical questionnaire to fill out. However, it offers no protection for baggage and belongings, cancellation or travel delays – meaning you’ll need to buy another travel insurance policy to be fully protected while overseas.
If you’d like to find out more, you can read a comprehensive comparison on how the Co-op and Bought By Many policies stack up. You can also see the policies with a high Which? satisfaction score in our Which? travel insurance company reviews.
- Find out more: how to find travel insurance if you are over 65
What policy details should I look for?
Don’t let a policy’s price be your only guide – you need to make sure it will suit your needs.
As a guideline, the minimum inclusions in a policy should be:
- Emergency medical cover that of at least £2m in Europe and £5m worldwide.
- Personal belongings and money cover of at least £1,500.
- Personal liability cover of at least £1m.
- Cancellation, curtailment and missed departure cover of at least £3,000.
- 24-hour emergency helpline for advice and legal expenses cover
If you’re an older customer, or have a pre-existing medical condition, you should also consider what other assistance you might require, and make sure your policy will cover it.
- Find out more: travel insurance explained
What medical information do I need to share?
While it can be irritating to be quizzed at length about your medical history, it is important that insurers know about any past issues.
If you leave anything out and are taken ill abroad, you may find that any claims you make will be rejected, leaving you with a huge medical bill. As a general rule, try to answer any questions about your medical history honestly and in full.
When an insurer makes a decision you think is unfair – either refusing you cover or rejecting a claim you make – don’t be afraid to make a complaint. If the insurer doesn’t respond adequately, you can take up the matter with the Financial Ombudsman Service by calling 0300 123 9123.
What if my health changes after buying a policy?
Many policies come with a clause – often referred to as ‘ongoing duty of disclosure’ – that puts the onus on you to tell your travel insurance provider if your health changes after you’ve taken out the policy.
Insurers need to know the name of any medical conditions, so you’ll need to be diagnosed by a GP before talking to your provider.
Your insurer will reassess the terms of your cover in light of the information you’ve provided. In many cases, your policy may not change – but there is also the chance the insurer could increase your premium, add an exclusion to your cover (for claims relating to the new condition) or cancel your cover.
If your cover is cancelled, you should be refunded for any premiums paid – and you should also be able to make a cancellation claim if you have to rearrange or cancel your trip.
While you’re waiting on a diagnosis, it might be best to wait and buy your travel insurance until after you’ve received this.
- Find out more: how to find cheap travel insurance
Help finding insurance
If an insurer doesn’t offer you cover due to your age, they are obliged to ‘signpost’ you towards an insurer or broker that can help you.
Using a broker could also be an option if you’re struggling to find insurance.
Some brokers will charge you a fee for their service, while others will get paid from a commission on the service they sell you. You can find a broker by calling the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) ‘Find a broker service’ on 0370 950 1790.
When should I buy travel insurance?
It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip, even if you’re not due to leave for several months.
Travel insurance will cover you for cancellation and many other things that can go wrong before your trip, not just while you’re away. As the chances of being ill and having to cancel your trip increase as you get older, it becomes even more important to buy it early.
You should also consider how often you’re planning to travel. Single trip cover is often cheaper as a one-off purchase, but if you go on holiday regularly it’s worth spending more to cover multiple trips.