You may notice that it’s harder to find travel insurance as you enter your pension years, because many insurers impose an upper age limit on their standard policies. If a provider does offer travel insurance for pensioners, it usually comes with a higher cost. That’s because they view you as a higher risk: statistically speaking, the older you are, the more likely you are to make a claim.
Travel insurance for pensioners
Generally speaking, there are three age bands when it comes to travel insurance for adults: 18-54, 55-64 and 65-74. Once you reach 75, prices either go up annually, or every five years, depending on the provider.
But while travel insurance for pensioners - or travel insurance for seniors as it is sometimes known - can be more expensive, it can often provide higher cover in key areas, such as additional medical and emergency cover.
Crucially, you cannot afford to go on holiday without cover: traveling uninsured could mean financial disaster if anything goes wrong. The cost of medical treatment abroad can be extortionate, and particularly if you have to be repatriated; going abroad without cover is false economy.
What are pre-existing medical conditions?
What’s considered a pre-existing medical condition can differ for each provider, but generally speaking it refers to any serious medical issue that you have had recently, or currently have at the time of buying your travel insurance.
As a pensioner, you are also more likely to suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, and that can make finding travel insurance cover more difficult and costly in some cases.
Common pre-existing conditions can include any heart conditions, respiratory problems and circulatory conditions - such as hypertension and stroke - or any type of cancer which you have received treatment for.
Equally, you should report any hospital consultation or inpatient treatment that you have needed during the last 12 month as this could also be classed as a pre-existing medical condition by your insurer.
Why is it important to disclose pre-existing medical conditions?
Declaring a condition can bump up the cost of your holiday insurance, as insurers sometimes take a worst-case scenario when calculating the cost of travel insurance for pensioners with pre-existing medical conditions. This is due to the additional risk of a claim being made.
They are likely to ask for a medical certificate to be completed by the patient, as well as a doctor's letter, and even if the doctor deems you well enough to travel, premiums are still likely to be more expensive. Nonetheless, it's absolutely essential to tell the truth on your application, because if you don’t, you risk rendering your policy void in the event of a claim, and could find you are uninsured for treatment.
If you are an older holiday-maker who is struggling to get cover, there are a number of specialist providers that do not impose age limits. Others specialise in finding travel insurance for pensioners with pre-existing medical conditions, and will offer quotes on an individual basis.
MoneySupermarket.com can help guide you towards insurers who will be sympathetic towards your particular situation.
What types of cover should I consider?
When choosing a pensioner’s travel insurance policy, you need to decide between a single trip policy or a multi-trip policy.
If you travel abroad more than twice a year, it usually makes sense to buy a multi-trip or annual pensioners travel insurance policy. Annual policies tend to provide great levels of cover, but this may be reflected in the price.
Equally, as a senior traveller, you do need to be aware that some insurers place an upper age limit on annual policies which may prevent you from selecting this option.
Top tips for older travellers
Before setting off on your travels, make sure you've done as much research as you can in guidebooks and by searching online, and also consider these additional helpful tips:
Plan Ahead. By carrying out a little forward planning, you can work out what to pack based on the weather conditions you are to expect at your destination, and the activities you are planning on taking part in during your time away. You can also check that your planned activities are covered by your policy.
Pack Sensibly. Remember to pack plenty of sun cream and a well-stocked first aid kit, along with any regular medication you need to take and a spare pair of glasses. If possible, take extra medication with you and split it between two of your bags to make sure you have enough for your trip in case of lost luggage.
Health Risks. Make an appointment with your GP or nurse to find out if you need any vaccinations or malaria tablets, and find out if there are any health risks in your chosen destination - such as whether it's safe to drink the water, etc.
Reduce the risk of DVT. Remember to drink lots of water during your flight to help prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis), and invest in a good pair of flight socks, whilst also carrying out the in-flight exercises recommended by the airline you are travelling with.
Check Your Passport. Make sure your passport is valid and check if you need any visas for the destination you are travelling to, applying for these well in advance to avoid any delays on your arrival.
Apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). If you will be travelling within Europe (and Switzerland) it's a good idea to apply for the EHIC as it will entitle you to reduced cost - and in some cases free - emergency healthcare.
This card may be asked for first in the case of an accident or medical emergency so it's important to have it. It’s also important to understand that the EHIC is not a substitute for a good travel insurance policy though as it does not cover private healthcare and emergency repatriation.
More information on the card, and a link to apply for it, can be found on our EHIC page.
Spending Money. Contact your bank to let them know you're going on holiday - and where you're going - as that will stop them from putting a block on your card when they see an “unusual” foreign transaction and spread your spending money across a couple of methods of payment such as pre-paid credit cards and travellers cheques.
Save money on pensioners travel insurance
When looking to buy travel insurance for pensioners, it pays to shop around. Compare the level of cover offered and the policy price, before selecting the policy that suits you and your needs.
Generally speaking, you can make savings by choosing the best deal from an independent provider, rather than settling for packaged travel insurance from your tour operator which could cost you more - and the best deals can usually be found online.
You may also be able to cut the cost of cover and find cheap pensioners travel insurance by increasing the excess, and if you are travelling as a couple, you may be able to make savings by booking a policy together.
If you're travelling only in Europe, you could save money by opting for a “Europe-only” rather than a worldwide policy; in this case remember to apply for a EHIC, as this entitles you to free or reduced rate medical treatment in EU member countries (including Switzerland). But again, don't view this as a substitute for travel cover, as it won't cover the cost of transport home in an air ambulance, nor will it cover medical expenses if you are admitted to a private health facility.