5 Things You Should Know About Travel Insurance

Date published: 23 Jan 18

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Travel InsuranceMost people don’t think twice about buying home or car insurance these days. They fall into the ‘got-to-have’ category of life’s little administrative extras.

Travel insurance, however, is another matter. According to UK government figures, a quarter of people still travel abroad without insurance.

Buying travel insurance is strongly advised for any trip because, if something goes wrong, you will inevitably have to pay. The only way to be sure you are protected for lost or stolen luggage, cancelled flights or hotel bookings, is to take out travel insurance.

Perhaps most importantly, should you have an accident abroad or fall ill, medical expenses can be eye-watering. In the US, something as common as a stomach bug could cost you £100,000 if you needed hospital treatment.

Without insurance, you would be liable for the full cost.

Even the three-quarters of travellers who do buy travel insurance need to be careful. There is a widespread assumption that all travel insurance policies are alike, and will cover you in all circumstances.

Sadly, this is not the case, and thousands of people get caught out every year by not reading the small print on their policy. When they come to make a claim, they find they are not covered, after all.

So here are five things every older traveller should know about travel insurance before they buy to make sure they get the right protection.

Age matters - and you could be paying a premium

What many senior travellers do not realise is that their age is often a factor in whether they can get travel insurance, and how much they have to pay. It sounds like discrimination, but is perfectly legal. In the UK, for example, the industry has a voluntary agreement with the government that insurance companies can refuse cover on the grounds of age, as long as they signpost customers to another provider who will offer cover.

Travel InsuranceIt all boils down to what insurance companies see as the increased likelihood of people aged 50 and over requiring medical treatment abroad. Many don’t want to take the risk, and those that do will often add a premium onto the cost without making this clear to the customer.

The best option if you are aged 50 or over is to look for a provider that specialises in policies for your age group, as you will get the best value as well as complete cover for all your needs.

Your EHIC card does not give you full medical protection

Many people believe that if they hold a European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, they do not need to buy travel insurance on top of it when travelling within the EU.

The EHIC entitles the holder to free state health care in any EU country. So, if you fall ill, it means you can visit a doctor without paying, or maybe receive hospital treatment. However, the type of care provided for free by the state varies in each country. Hospital admission for a stomach bug might be covered in one country, but not in another.

Also, it provides no cover for rescue and repatriation, which is when things really start to get expensive. And it gives no protection for any of the other things travel insurance covers you for, like lost luggage or cancellations.

A medical condition could invalidate your cover

Travel InsuranceIf you have a pre-existing medical condition, you need to be very careful when it comes to buying travel insurance. If you do not declare your condition, and then fall ill abroad, your insurance could be invalidated, meaning your would have to foot the bill for treatment.

The safest best is to look for a provider which specialises in travel policies for specific medical conditions. As different conditions carry different levels of risk and require different types of treatment, it is important to get a bespoke policy that fits your medical requirements. These policies will also offer higher maximum pay outs to reflect the potential need for specialist treatment.

Annual policies can save money - but single trip insurance can last more than a year

People sometimes get confused understanding the difference between annual travel insurance policies and single-trip insurance. Annual policies are also known as multi-trip cover - if you travel frequently, you can buy an annual policy which will cover you all year, however many times you travel. This will save you money compared to buying cover for each individual trip.

However, single-trip travel insurance is the better option for any one trip you take, no matter how long it is. In fact, some providers offer single-trip insurance which lasts much longer than a year. If, for example, you are moving abroad to live for  six months, a year, or even 18 months, a single-trip policy could work out better value than an annual policy.

Beware ‘bonus’ travel insurance bundles

Travel InsuranceFinally, many people now get travel insurance as an added-value extra with their bank account, credit card or even other insurance products. These tend to be annual, multi-trip policies. Naturally, people assume these provide all the cover they need when they go away.

Unfortunately, that is often not the case. They are very generic products, and will include exclusions for travellers over a certain age or those who have pre-existing medical conditions in the small print. As these exclusions are often not flagged up by the provider, older travellers are strongly advised to read the terms and conditions carefully, and look for additional cover when they travel.


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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • Ceejay
    10 months ago
    Dont ever travel without a good insurance policy. I broke my hip in Tunisia a couple of years ago. Wod have cost me around £10k if I hadn't had a good policy.