You may have discovered the awful truth. Travel insurance premiums shoot up once you pass your 60th birthday, and some insurance companies won’t cover you at all.
Things get worse as you pass your 70th and 80th birthdays; if you can find travel insurance, it’s three or four times as expensive as it was when you were 60, and your coverage options might be limited.
This article will help you to understand the travel insurance situation better and make the most of your options.
First, keep in mind that, if your health insurance does not cover medical expenses you incur when you are away from home, you should seriously consider buying travel medical insurance, at a minimum, every time you travel. Otherwise, you could be stuck paying large medical bills.
Most travel insurance policies include an array of coverages (see below), but no two travel insurance policies are alike. Be sure you understand what is covered and whether your needs match the coverages offered.
It’s also important to carefully read the entire policy certificate before you buy. Be sure travelers of your age are covered. If you don’t understand the certificate, ask a friend for help or call the insurance company.
Remember that you will normally have 14 days to change your mind after you buy travel insurance coverage. Use this time to read through the certificate again, look over your travel arrangements and determine whether or not you have bought a policy that meets your needs.
If you travel frequently, you may be able to save money by purchasing an annual travel insurance policy. As you would with a policy for a single trip, take the time to read the entire certificate so that you know what is covered, what is excluded and how much the insurance company will pay, in total, for claims throughout the coverage year.
Ok, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some of the types of travel insurance coverage that may be available to you…
Travel medical insurance pays for medical treatment during your trip. If you are from the United States and are on Medicare, you will need to purchase this coverage for trips outside the country, as Medicare does not pay for treatment provided outside the U. S.
Be aware that some insurance companies limit payments to $50,000 or $100,000, particularly for older travelers. This could be a problem if you are traveling to North America, where medical costs are high.
This coverage does two things. First, pre-existing conditions coverage pays for treatment related to medical conditions you had before your trip began. Second, this coverage can reimburse you for some of your trip costs if you must cancel or cut short your trip because a family member or traveling companion’s pre-existing medical condition triggers an illness before your trip begins or while you are away.
Requirements for pre-existing conditions coverage vary. Be sure you understand whether or not you are eligible for this coverage before you purchase your policy. In order to qualify for pre-existing conditions coverage, you must usually purchase your policy within 10 to 14 days of paying your initial trip deposit.
IMPORTANT: Failure to disclose a pre-existing condition will invalidate coverage for all medical treatment incurred during your trip. If you develop a new medical condition during your coverage period, you must inform your insurance company immediately.
Medical evacuation insurance allows you to travel home in a safe manner if you become ill or injured during your trip.
Lost baggage coverage reimburses you for items lost in transit. Be sure to read your policy certificate carefully; many items, including eyeglasses, jewelry, money, dentures and other valuables are usually excluded from coverage, and you will probably have a per-item reimbursement limit and a per-person reimbursement limit.
Trip cancellation coverage pays for the cost of your trip if you must cancel due to a covered reason. Covered reasons usually include your death, death of a family member, your illness and illness of a family member or traveling companion, but each policy is different. Read the policy certificate carefully before you buy so that you know which cancellation reasons are covered.
Trip delay coverage reimburses you for lodging and meals if your trip is delayed for a covered reason.
Cancel for any reason coverage (CFAR) allows you to call off your trip up to 48 to 72 hours before your departure date and recoup 70 to 80 percent of your prepaid trip costs. Travel insurance policies do not normally permit you to cancel your trip because you are nervous or because you are concerned about potential political issues or civil unrest, but CFAR coverage does.
Only CFAR coverage will allow you to cancel without worrying about whether your reasons are covered. You won’t get all of your money back, but you’ll get most of it, provided you follow your insurance company’s rules for cancellation exactly.
If you buy travel insurance through a third party rather than through your airline, cruise line or travel provider, you should be able to insure against financial default or bankruptcy. This is one of the best reasons to buy travel insurance from a third party. Your airline, cruise line or tour operator cannot insure you against its own financial default.
If you are over 60, you may not be able to buy travel insurance except as an individual, even though you were able to purchase couples or family insurance on prior trips.
You may be asked to answer questions about your health or go through a medical screening before you are offered travel insurance.
Your age and destination are the primary factors used in calculating the cost of your travel insurance.
So, now that we’ve covered the different types of coverage that you may want to consider, it’s time to turn our attention to a few tips for finding travel insurance after 60.
The best way to save money on travel insurance is to do a lot of research. You can use insurance comparison sites, such as Squaremouth.com and InsureMyTrip.com, to find policies, or you can contact insurance companies that offer coverage for mature travelers, such as Saga, JD Travel Insurance Consultants and Freedom Travel Insurance in the UK and CSA Travel Protection, Travelex and Travel Guard in the U. S.
Your credit card company may offer travel insurance benefits. Some Visa cards, for example, offer lost luggage coverage and travel accident insurance. Consult your credit card agreement documentation or contact your credit card company for details.
If you aren’t sure what the policy you are considering actually covers, call the insurance company and ask. Understand your coverage before you buy a policy.
Answer all questions about your trip and health situation honestly. If you leave out any important information, your insurance company can refuse to cover your claims.
Before you put a deposit down on your dream trip, take a look at the associated travel insurance costs. Medical care in the United States is very expensive, for example, and a travel medical policy for a trip to the U. S. will be priced accordingly. Be prepared to change your destination if you are having trouble finding affordable travel insurance.
Don’t read the summary of benefits or the comparison chart. Read the policy certificate and find out whether you, at your age and with your health issues, are covered, and under what conditions. Pay special attention to exclusions and pre-existing conditions information. The policy certificate is the legal document that spells out coverage, dollar limits and exclusions. You need to understand what it says.
Finally, let’s look at some potential alternative sources of insurance.
It’s relatively easy, if time-consuming, to get travel insurance quotes online, but you should also explore other ways to insure at least part of your trip.
You may be able to purchase travel insurance through your homeowners or renters insurance provider. It’s worth a two-minute telephone call to find out.
Your travel agent may be able to sell you a travel insurance policy that meets your needs. Travel agents often sell travel insurance policies on commission, but you should not let that information stop you from trying to find your best deal.
Have you had difficulty finding travel insurance, or have you found an insurance company that offers affordable coverage for travelers over 60? Share your experiences in the comments below.