As an older traveller, it’s important to compare the different policies available to ensure you find a policy with the right level of cover that won’t be overpriced. Different providers will have different policies regarding age limits and pre-existing medical conditions, so the best way to find the right cover is to compare quotes and find out exactly what the insurer will cover you for.
If you are ready to compare travel insurance options for your next trip, you can keep reading to learn more about how to find affordable cover with the right protection for seniors.
This is the most common type of travel insurance for New Zealand travellers. The most important feature is cover for overseas medical and dental expenses. This includes emergency medical costs, ambulance transportation, hospital costs and emergency dental expenses. Some single-trip policies are available that offer just medical cover, though it’s also possible to take out cover against a comprehensive range of risks. A comprehensive policy includes cover for the following:
Loss of deposits
Loss or damage to luggage and personal belongings
Loss and damage to travel documents
Theft of cash
Rental vehicle excess
Hospital cash allowance
Accidental death benefit
This policy covers against all the risks mentioned in the single-trip policy, but offers cover for multiple trips in a single year. If you’re a frequent traveller who takes more than one trip every year, this can be a more cost-effective cover option.
I have pre-existing conditions. What are my options?
If you’re over the age of 80 and applying for travel insurance, there’s a fair chance that you might have one or more pre-existing medical conditions. This can make it more difficult to obtain affordable travel insurance. A pre-existing medical condition is one of the following:
An ongoing medical condition of which you are aware
A medical condition that is currently being (or has been) investigated or treated by a medical professional
Any condition for which you take prescribed medication or have had surgery
Any condition for which you see a medical specialist.
How insurance providers handle pre-existing medical conditions can differ greatly between insurers. Some insurers exclude coverage for any pre-existing medical condition in people over 80 years of age. Others attach a higher excess to policies. While some insurers allow you to take out cover for certain pre-existing conditions, further medical testing may be required and the cover may only be offered up to a lower limit.
Speak to your insurance provider to find out their approach to pre-existing conditions. In addition, make sure that you disclose all relevant information about your medical history to your insurer when you apply for cover. Failing to do so could result in your cover being void when it comes time to make a claim.
The challenges for travellers in their 80s
Sadly, some seniors do face certain issues when looking for travel insurance.
Age limits. One of the most common problems is policy age limits. Some insurers refuse cover to anyone over 65 or 70 years of age, which obviously makes it harder for people over 80 to find a suitable policy. However, remember that there are insurers who are willing and able to cater to your needs.
Pre-existing conditions cover. As you get older, the chances of you having a pre-existing condition increases. Most policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so this will affect the kind of cover you can take out.
Joint cover. The age limits imposed by insurers can complicate matters for couples looking for cover. While in the past you may have been able to take out joint cover, this may no longer be possible if one spouse is above the insurer’s specified age limit. As a result, some find themselves having to spend significantly more to take out two separate policies.
The price of policies. Unfortunately, many insurers seem to think that the older you are, the more of a health risk you are. Insurance premiums are calculated based on the risk you pose to an insurer, but many senior citizens have reported being charged exorbitant amounts.
Assess your holiday plans carefully. Think about where you are going, how long you are going for and what sort of activities and experiences you plan on participating in. Once you’ve thought about this, you can start looking for a policy that matches your needs.
Compare a number of policies. Shopping around is important when looking for travel insurance. Rather than simply taking out cover with the first insurer who meets your basic requirements, it pays to compare a number of policies to see exactly what is on offer. There are plenty of online product review sites to browse, plus you can seek out personal advice and recommendations from family and friends.
Read the PDS in detail. Once you’ve narrowed your choice down to a few policies, read each product disclosure statement (PDS) closely to compare the exact level of cover offered. Familiarise yourself with the benefits, features, limits and exclusions offered by each policy, including any age limits that may apply and the handling of pre-existing medical conditions.
Get quotes from more than one insurer. This is quick and easy to do online and will help you get a good idea of the costs involved and the true value offered by each competing policy.
Three tips for buying travel insurance when you’re over 80
Disclose all pre-existing conditions
Speak to the insurer’s medical examiner and disclose all existing or known conditions. Although this may raise your premium, the cost of a potential hospital stay would largely outweigh this small expense. Without full disclosure, you may not be covered if it is later discovered that you knew of a condition before travelling.
Get written evidence
Make sure any cover that you are offered on the phone or in person by a travel agent or salesperson is in the insurance policy’s PDS. This will help you avoid a situation where your claim is denied even though your travel agent said you would be covered.
Read the PDS in detail.
Be aware of age limits, limitations of coverage and wording in the PDS or you may run into trouble when making a claim. For instance, you may make a claim for a trip cancellation only to discover you will only be covered for up to $2,500 because of your age, while your cancellation costs amount to $4,000.
Cheap travel insurance for over 80s
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that travel insurance when you’re over 80 years of age is more expensive than it is for younger people. This is simply due to the fact that there’s an increased risk of illness and injury for older travellers, and this higher risk is reflected by inflated premiums.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find cheap travel insurance for over 80s. In fact, there are plenty of simple things you can do to save money on seniors travel insurance, including:
Buy online. Thinking of buying travel insurance through your airline or travel agent? Think again. Airlines and travel agents usually add hefty commissions on top of the cost of a policy, so you can save a lot of money by hopping online and buying cover direct from an insurer.
Only pay for the cover you need. Make sure you only pay for the cover you’re likely to need on your holiday. For example, would you rather an essentials policy rather than paying extra for the long list of benefits provided by a comprehensive policy? Can you avoid adding extra-cost options, such as golf cover or snow sports cover, to your policy if you’re unlikely to use them?
Adjust your excess. Many insurers give you the option to vary the excess payable should you have to make a claim. By switching to a higher excess, you can enjoy a lower premium. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you’ll be able to reasonably afford the excess if you have to make a claim.
Look for discounts. There are always discounts, deals and special offers to help you save money on travel insurance. Look for online promo and coupon codes, seniors discounts, multi-policy discounts and even discounts for purchasing a policy online instead of over the phone.
Buy a joint policy. Travelling with a friend or relative? Instead of each of you purchasing separate travel insurance cover, save money by joining forces to buy a joint policy.
Partner offers. If you’re a member of a motoring organisation or a customer of particular banks, you may be entitled to access discounted travel insurance through one of the organisation’s or bank’s partners. Check your membership or customer information for more details.
Compare policies. It’s easy to obtain travel insurance quotes online, so get quotes from multiple insurers and see how they stack up against one another. Once you’ve found some policies in the right price range, compare their features to see what’s covered and what’s excluded.
Of course, it’s worth remembering that a cheap travel insurance policy isn’t necessarily the best policy for you. Cost should only be one of many factors you consider when choosing travel insurance – you’ll need to look closely at the cover features and limits to work out whether a policy provides good value for money.
Travel tips for older travellers
Age is just a number and should never stop you getting out there and exploring the world. However, if you’re a senior traveller planning your next trip, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure that you stay safe and comfortable when away from home:
Check travel advice. Before going overseas, check the latest travel advisories on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smart Traveller website. This can help you avoid trouble on your journey and offer specific travel advice tailored to your destination.
Visit your doctor. If you’ve got a history of medical problems or pre-existing conditions, visit your doctor for a check-up before booking your trip. Your doctor can tell you if it’s safe for you to travel, offer tips on how you can look after your health during your trip, and advise you of any vaccinations you should have before travelling.
Manage your medication. Your doctor can also ensure that you have enough medication for your journey. Make sure you always have easy access to your medications, and remember that some medications that are legal in New Zealand may not be available overseas.
Plan ahead. Do you have special seating requirements for plane travel? Will you need to travel with a wheelchair or guide dog? If so, make sure you organise any special arrangements with airlines and tour operators well before your scheduled departure date.
Looking after your luggage. Pack a medical kit in your carry-on with all the essential items you need. In addition, rather than lugging around a heavy bag everywhere you go, make sure your suitcase has wheels and is easy to manoeuvre.
Reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is the formation of blood clots in the veins of the legs, and there’s an increased risk of this potentially serious condition when you sit still for long periods of time. So if you’re on a long-haul flight or bus trip, make sure to regularly stretch your legs and feet and to get up and walk around whenever possible.
Jet lag. Allow yourself some additional time to recover from jet lag, and remember that the effects of jet lag can be reduced if you fly west rather than east.
Avoid tummy troubles. Unsure of the water supply at your destination? Drink bottled water only. Also remember to practise good food hygiene at all times, avoid eating street food and avoid buffets.
Take it easy. Resist the temptation to pack too many activities, events and experiences into your holiday. Make sure there are plenty of gaps in your itinerary so that you can put your feet up, relax and get some rest if necessary.
Stay safe. Avoid travelling on your own at night, don’t carry large sums of money and consider wearing valuables on a belt under your clothes. When in busy public areas, keep an eye out for pickpockets and thieves.
Know who to call if you need help. Make sure you know the relevant emergency services number(s) to call at your destination if you ever need help. Have your travel insurer’s emergency assistance number handy at all times, and make a note of how you can get in contact with an New Zealand embassy if required.
Many travel insurers also offer optional covers that you can add to your policy if you’re willing to pay an extra premium. Options available on travel insurance for over 80s include:
Additional car hire excess cover. Most policies will provide a certain level of car hire excess cover as standard, protecting you against the expensive excess you’ll be liable to pay to the rental company if your hire car is stolen, vandalised or involved in an accident. However, some insurers will offer the choice of increasing your level of car rental excess cover (for example from $3,000 to $6,000) as an extra-cost option.
Additional specified items cover. All comprehensive travel insurance policies provide cover for stolen and damaged personal belongings on your trip, but there’s usually a limit to the amount your insurer will pay out per item. This option allows you to increase the level of cover for specific high-value items you’re taking with you on your journey, such as a laptop or camera.
Golf cover. Packing your golf clubs for your next big trip? You should consider adding golf cover to your policy so you can enjoy protection for loss, theft and damage of your golf equipment, as well as cover for expenses such as golf equipment hire and unused green fees.
Cruise cover. If your next holiday is a cruise, cruise travel insurance covers you for emergency medical transportation from your cruise ship to the nearest medical facility. It also pays benefits for cabin confinement, missed shore excursions, cruise delays, trip interruptions and more.
Snow sports cover. Sure, most 80-plus year olds won’t be planning on hitting the slopes on their next holiday, but age is no barrier to having fun and staying active. If you’ll be going skiing or snowboarding on your next trip, purchasing optional snow sports cover ensures that you’re covered for injuries sustained on the slopes, as well as for things like stolen or damaged ski equipment, piste closure and unused lift passes.
Adventure activities cover. Age is also no barrier to adventure, so you may want to purchase optional cover that provides protection if you want to participate in any adventure activities on your trip.
What is normally excluded from cover?
There are some situations, events and circumstances when your travel insurer will not provide any cover. You’ll need to check the PDS for a full list of what’s not covered by your policy, but generally you will not be covered if:
Your claim arises due to a pre-existing condition not covered by your policy
You leave your luggage or belongings unattended in a public place and they are stolen or damaged
You visit a country for which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a ‘Do Not Travel’ warning
You fail to obey the road rules in the country which you are visiting
Your claim arises due to an act of war or terrorism
Your claim arises because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
You change your mind about travelling
You travel against medical advice
Your claim is for consequential loss of any kind, for example loss of enjoyment
You intentionally or recklessly act in a way that would pose a risk to your safety
You do not do everything you can to reduce your loss as much as possible
Your claim arises because a government authority confiscates, detains or destroys anything
You drive a vehicle without a current licence valid for the country you are driving in
Your claim arises due to errors or omissions in your booking arrangements
Your claim arises due to an epidemic or pandemic
You can also find out more about what’s not covered in our guide to travel insurance exclusions.
Other questions you may have about travel insurance for over 80s
While it is convenient to buy insurance through a travel agent, you must consider excess charges. Travel agents may charge a sizable commission on top of the price of the policy, so this can end up costing you a whole lot more. Buying a policy directly from an insurer online can save you a great deal of money.
Yes. While it may be more of an effort to find an insurer who will offer the cover you need, there are insurers out there who offer insurance for people over 90. However, you may want to consider enlisting the help of an insurance broker to help you find suitable cover.
Travel insurance is an essential consideration for anyone planning an overseas trip, regardless of whether they’re 18 or 80 years old. It’s entirely possible to find an adequate level of cover if you’re aged over 80, so make sure to shop around for a policy that suits your needs.
Not necessarily. The way insurers treat travellers over the age of 80 will vary depending on the policy provider you choose. Some will require all travellers above a certain age to complete a medical assessment, while others will only require further medical evidence if you have a pre-existing condition you need to disclose. Check with your insurer for more details.
Richard Laycock is Finder’s insights editor after spending the last five years writing and editing articles about insurance. His musings can be found across the web including on MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. When he’s not doing deep dives on data, he is testing the quality of cocktails in his newfound home of New York. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 Certification in General Advice for Life Insurance.
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