You may have read that travel insurance isn’t worth the cost. This might be true for younger travelers, but for people our age, senior travel insurance can provide peace of mind and assistance when we need it most. Let’s take a closer look at senior travel insurance coverage and the best ways to compare policies.
So, what kind of senior travel insurance do you need? Here are a few options to consider…
Travel medical insurance covers treatment for illness or injury during your trip. You should definitely consider buying travel medical insurance if you are a US citizen insured by Medicare who plans to travel abroad, because Medicare only pays for medical treatment received in the United States and its possessions.
If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and plan to visit countries outside the European Economic Area, you should also consider purchasing a travel medical insurance policy. Travel medical insurance policies are usually secondary, which means they pay after your own insurance policy has processed and paid your claim.
Your travel medical insurance may or may not cover pre-existing conditions. Try to find a policy that does offer this coverage, because you will save yourself a great deal of time and paperwork if you do need to file a claim. Typically, to get pre-existing conditions coverage you need to buy your travel medical insurance policy within two weeks of paying your initial trip deposit.
Medical evacuation coverage pays to bring you to the nearest hospital or to your own hospital at home, depending on the policy you choose. Repatriation coverage pays for your remains to be returned home if you should die during your trip.
Trip cancellation coverage reimburses you for your prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs if you must cancel your trip for specific reasons, such as illness or natural disaster, which are named in your policy.
You must cancel your trip within a certain time frame, usually 48 or 72 hours before your scheduled departure, and submit documentation of the covered cancellation reason to your travel insurance provider.
Trip delay coverage pays for incidental expenses, such as hotel rooms and meals, if you are delayed during your trip for a specified amount of time.
Trip interruption coverage reimburses you for prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs if you must return home before your trip ends. This type of coverage is usually subject to many exclusions, so you will need to read the policy carefully before you buy.
Baggage and personal items loss coverage reimburses you if your luggage is lost or stolen during your trip. Most baggage loss policies have many exclusions, documentation requirements and per-item coverage limits. Take a look at your credit card agreements and homeowner’s or renter’s policy; you may already be covered for loss of your luggage and personal items.
Cancel for any reason (CFAR) insurance reimburses you a certain percentage, usually 65 to 75 percent, of your prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs if you cancel your trip within the required time frame, which is typically 48 to 72 hours before your trip begins. This coverage is useful if you are concerned about situations at home or at your destination and those events would not be covered by a trip cancellation policy. You must buy CFAR coverage within a week or two of making your first trip deposit.
You can also buy travel insurance that covers a wide variety of situations, such as rental car collision damage, pet care, adventure travel and accidental death. Be aware that some travel insurance providers will not cover people over age 75.
Tip: Your credit card may include rental car collision damage coverage in most countries; read your card agreement before you buy additional insurance.
Most travelers choose a policy that covers one trip. Single-trip travel insurance policies are priced according to your age, the types of coverage you want, the cost and duration of your trip and the places you plan to visit.
Frequent travelers may be able to save money by purchasing an annual travel insurance policy. You can also buy a separate annual medical evacuation policy if you travel abroad regularly, but do not need any other type of coverage.
Here are a few of the best ways to compare senior travel insurance policies…
The easiest and fastest way to compare senior travel insurance policies is to do an online search for the coverage you need and compare benefits, prices and exclusions. There are several websites you can use to do this, including Squaremouth.com, InsureMyTrip.com, TripInsuranceStore.com, MoneySupermarket.com, GoCompare.com, Travelinsurance.co.uk and Healthquotes.ca.
If you have pre-existing conditions that other travel insurance providers won’t cover, consider getting a quote from Staysure.co.uk. Staysure will also insure travelers who are over age 80 or who have serious health conditions, such as cancer or lupus. MedJetAssist offers medical evacuation coverage for travelers from the US, Mexico and Canada.
You will be asked to enter some information about yourself and your upcoming trip. You can select the coverage you need as part of this process; the search results will include only policies that include all of your choices.
Every senior travel insurance policy is different. Take the time to read each policy before you make your final choice. Pay attention to the exclusions and covered reasons, particularly if you have ongoing health issues, are planning to participate in adventure sports or think you might want the option to cancel your trip.
The least expensive policy might not offer the coverage you really need, and the most expensive policy may not provide the greatest amount of coverage.
As you plan your trip, consider your travel insurance needs. You will need to buy a policy within a week or two of making your first trip deposit if you want coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, cancellations due to named storms or natural events (volcanic ash events, for example) or cancel for any reason coverage.
Tip: You can change your coverage amounts later on if the cost of your trip goes up, but you will not be able to get certain types of travel insurance if you wait too long.
Once you have a list of policies and prices, it’s time to decide whether the policy benefits outweigh the cost. Unless your health insurance covers treatment in all places under all conditions, travel medical insurance with pre-existing conditions coverage is probably worth buying.
If you are going on a cruise or tour and your contract indicates that your trip costs are nonrefundable after a certain date, trip cancellation insurance can help you recoup your costs. Trip cancellation coverage can also be useful if you have purchased nonrefundable airline tickets.
Apply this analysis to each type of coverage. Ask yourself what you have paid, how much you will lose if you cannot go on the trip, and whether you can afford to lose that much or pay for additional services, such as medical evacuation, if problems arise.
Have you bought senior travel insurance and filed a claim? What was the process like? Please join the discussion.
Watch my interview with senior travel expert, Nancy Parode on the topic of finding the best senior travel insurance.