Seniors Travel Insurance Guide

The ultimate guide to help understand the benefits, limits and exclusions on seniors travel insurance.

Your senior years are the perfect time to travel wherever and whenever you want! But as a pensioner and older traveller, finding the right travel insurance can prove to be a bit more difficult.

You might have a pre-existing medical condition you want to have cover for, or you might find that some travel insurers apply age limits or other restrictions to senior travellers that exclude you from cover.

So how do you you navigate your way around buying a suitable travel insurance policy?

This guide is your one-stop, complete reference to understanding seniors travel insurance. Here you’ll find:

  • What travel insurance for seniors can cover
  • How to purchase seniors travel insurance
  • Common exclusions that can apply to seniors travel insurance
  • Answers to common question seniors have about travel insurance
  • And much, much more!

So whether you’re planning a cruise, a tour, just visiting family or heading off to explore somewhere new at your own pace, this guide will help you to compare your options and understand how travel insurance can cover you.

What is seniors travel insurance?

Seniors travel insurance usually refers to travel insurance policies for travellers 60 years of age and over.

As a senior traveller, you may be more likely to want your travel insurance to provide cover for pre-existing medical conditions, potential medical emergencies overseas and other situations such as having to unexpectedly cancel your trip, your luggage being lost or stolen, or your transport being delayed.

Senior travel insurance can give you the confidence of knowing that:

  • You can contact a professional emergency assistance team at any time for advice in an emergency.
  • You can be covered for unexpected medical expenses, including hospitalisation costs.
  • You can be escorted home by a registered nurse if you are unwell or injured and need to return home.
  • You can have cover for prepaid deposits and cancellation fees from the day you purchase a policy.
  • You can have cover for other unexpected emergency expenses including natural disasters that might interrupt your trip, lost or stolen luggage, or damaging a rental car and having to pay the rental car insurance excess.

Remember to check the insurer's Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for the full terms and conditions before you purchase a policy.

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How is seniors travel insurance different to other travel insurance?

You might find that travel insurance for seniors is different from travel insurance for younger travellers.

Here are a few ways travel insurance for seniors may differ:

1) Premiums might be more expensive

Premiums are often calculated based on age. You will probably find the cost of your travel insurance policy at 65-years-old will be more expensive than a policy for a 35-year-old and those for a 75-year-old are more expensive than those for a 65-year-old.

The greater your age, the more expensive your travel insurance policy is likely to be. This is all due to risk. Senior travellers have been found to make travel insurance claims that are more expensive for an insurer to cover.

2) Some pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered automatically

Some travel insurers may provide cover for a range of pre-existing medical conditions automatically. However, these may be subject to age restrictions.

For example, asthma may only be automatically covered for travellers up to the age of 60. This means that travellers over 60 years of age would not be able to claim for any expenses they may incur if they experience any complications from their asthma while on their holiday. This is again due to the risks associated with senior travellers and particular pre-existing medical conditions.

3) Some activities may have age limits

Due to the risks involved, some travel insurers may have age limits for certain activities such as snow sports or adventure sports.

It’s always a good idea to check the Product Disclosure Statement to see what your travel insurance policy will cover you for.

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Claim Example*

Sven and his wife had planned and pre-paid for a trip to Sweden to attend a 100-year birthday celebration and family reunion, followed by travel to the UK and a homeward cruise from Southampton. Unfortunately, a few months before their departure, an unexpected medical diagnosis meant they were forced to cancel their holiday. Thankfully they had purchased travel insurance well in advance and were completely for their cancellation costs and lost deposits. After submitting a claim online and providing all the required documentation, they received a payment of over $10,000 AUD within the week.

*Traveller details have been changed to protect their privacy. Claims examples are from Fast Cover travel insurance customers from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016.

Are there different travel insurance options for senior travellers?

Travel insurers may provide several options for seniors looking to purchase insurance. To find the right policy for your trip, it's important to compare the different benefits, limits and exclusions and see if these match your needs - not just the prices.

Here are examples of the different levels of cover available which may be suitable for your trip.

1) Basics or Medical-Only

This option is often the cheapest because it provides fewer benefits than the other options. You may find this basic level of insurance only provides cover for overseas emergency medical expenses and not much else.

Be aware that the limit may also differ depending on your age. Some insurers will provide unlimited overseas emergency medical cover, and others will cap the amount at specific ages.

2) Standard

This is the intermediate travel insurance option and may include overseas emergency medical expenses, cancellation and luggage cover among its key benefits.

3) Comprehensive

This travel insurance option provides the highest level of cover that the insurer can offer seniors. In addition to overseas emergency medical cover, cancellation cover and cover for luggage and personal belongings, it may also include cover for travel delays, alternative transport expenses and additional benefits should you be forced to change your travel arrangements due to something outside your control.

Remember that every travel insurer and policy is different. Always check the Product Disclosure Statement to decide whether the policy is right for you.

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Can seniors get annual or multi-trip policies?

Yes, though you may come across age restrictions when searching for this type of policy.

Multi-trip or frequent traveller policies can provide cover for an unlimited number of short trips within a 12 month period.

If you’re planning on taking several trips in the next year, a frequent traveller policy may be a cheaper travel insurance option. However, some insurers may not offer frequent traveller policies or an annual policy to senior travellers over a certain age. For Fast Cover frequent traveller policies, the age limit is 64.

If you want to purchase a frequent traveller policy, but will have a birthday during the 12 months of cover which means you'll exceed the age limit on your policy, check with your travel insurer to make sure this will not void the remaining period of your insurance.

If not, take advantage of the situation and buy before your next birthday!

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Can I be too old for travel insurance?

Some insurers may impose age limits on their policies: some may cover travellers up to 75 years of age, and others may cover travellers up to the age of 89.

While the benefits may be the same for all travellers, be aware that policies may also have a higher fixed excess for medical claims which cannot be reduced or waived.

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Will I be covered with seniors travel insurance?

Generally, you’ll be able to find a travel insurer to provide you with cover, but the right travel insurance policy for you will depend on a number of factors.

Various travel insurers have different exclusions which can alter how much cover you receive, or exclude you from some benefits altogether. Some examples include:

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1) Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Not all pre-existing medical conditions are automatically covered by all travel insurers. Some common pre-existing medical conditions experienced by seniors including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, glaucoma and diabetes may be automatically covered, provided that you meet the terms and conditions.

Other pre-existing medical conditions including heart conditions, cancer, and joint replacements are not often automatically covered in travel insurance policies. You may be able to add cover for these conditions by paying an additional amount with your premium, or they may be excluded from cover.

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2) Activities

Some low-risk activities may be automatically covered by senior travel insurance policies. Other activities may not be automatically covered, but you may be able to purchase additional cover for them. Keep in mind though that there may be age limits for these activities.

Always check the Product Disclosure Statement or ask your insurer to make sure you have cover for the activities you plan to do on your holiday.

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3) Skiing and Snow Sports

If you want to go skiing or snowboarding, you’ll most likely require a specific type of policy to cover things like:

  • Injuries you may get from falling over on the slopes.
  • Your pre-booked ski passes if you can no longer ski or snowboard.
  • You skiing or snowboarding equipment.

Keep in mind that some insurers impose an age limit on cover for skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports.

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4) Destination Exclusions

Some destinations are listed by the Australian Government as 'Reconsider your need to travel' or 'Do not travel' on Smartraveller. Where this occurs, your travel insurance policy will most likely not provide you with cover if you decide to travel there.

Check the latest travel alert level at your destination before you purchase a travel insurance policy.

When would I be excluded from emergency medical cover?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that isn’t covered by your travel insurer, it may mean you won’t have cover for any expenses related to incidents concerning that pre-existing medical condition.

For example, if you have asthma and this isn’t covered by your insurer, you’ll be responsible for the medical expenses if asthma is the reason for you seeking medical assistance.

Other pre-existing medical conditions can exclude you from medical cover entirely with some travel insurers. One example is if you’re on a prescribed blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin or Cartia. Due to the potential complications these medications can cause, some insurers will not offer medical cover to travellers taking a blood-thinner, whether it’s related to that pre-existing medical condition or not.

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Can seniors get travel insurance for a cruise?

Yes, seniors travel insurance can usually provide cover for a cruise by specifying this at the time of purchasing a policy.

Whether you’re cruising along the coast of Australia, the Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe or Worldwide, make sure cruise cover is included in your policy, as it's not always included automatically.

Without cruise cover you won’t be covered for any emergency expenses related to the cruise including becoming sick or injured on board, being evacuated off the cruise or having to unexpectedly cancel your cruise holiday.

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Claim Example*

Claire, a 72-year-old traveller from the Northern Beaches, booked her dream two-month cruise around South America. One evening the seas were particularly rough and Claire suffered a nasty fall, injuring her spine and neck. After a stay in the ship's medical centre overnight, she was then airlifted off the ship to a hospital for further treatment. The cost of her medical transport and treatment costs totalled over $190,000 AUD. Fortunately, these costs were covered by her policy.

*Traveller details have been changed to protect their privacy. Claims examples are from Fast Cover travel insurance customers from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016.

When should I purchase seniors travel insurance?

You can purchase travel insurance right up until you board the plane or cruise ship. However, the earlier you purchase travel insurance, the earlier your cancellation cover will be in place.

This means that if you become sick or injured before your trip and are no longer able to travel, or there’s a natural disaster and your flights or tour bookings are cancelled, you may be able to claim for things like:

  • The costs of accommodation you’ve already paid.
  • The cost of any tours you’ve already booked.
  • The cost of your flights (or the frequent flyer points used on your flights).
  • The deposit made towards your cruise.

Keep in mind that there may be limits on cancellation cover for travellers over a certain age. Always check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for the full terms and conditions of cancellation cover.

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What should I do before purchasing travel insurance?

  1. Read the Product Disclosure Statement so that you understand the policy exclusions.
  2. Check if there are any warnings for travellers for your destination on Smartraveller.
  3. Make sure that your passport meets the requirements of your destinations (some countries require passports to be valid for at least 6 months on entry).
  4. Get a health-check up and obtain a medical report of any pre-existing medical conditions you may have, as well as a list of the medications you are currently taking, so you can discuss these with your insurer if necessary.
  5. Prepare a list of questions if there's anything else you're unsure about before purchasing a policy.
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How do I get the best deal on a policy as a pensioner?

  1. Compare a few policies according to the benefits, limits and exclusions not just the price!
  2. Ask if there’s a seniors card holder discount – it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  3. Ask if you can get discounts if you become a loyal customer and take out future policies with the same company.
  4. Don’t purchase additional options you don’t need. You may have the option to select additional cover for specific items (such as golf clubs or a bicycle). Only add on the benefits you really need.
  5. If travelling with your grandchildren, look around for a travel insurance company that offers free cover for dependants (children under 21 years of age that aren’t in full time employment).
  6. Policy premiums are based on the age that you are at the time of policy purchase, and your travel insurance premium will increase as you get older. So if you buy before your next birthday, you may save some money!
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What do I do in an emergency?

  1. Seek assistance immediately, whether that's medical assistance from a doctor or hospital or reporting a theft to police or your hotel management.
  2. Contact your travel insurer's emergency assistance team as soon as possible. They’ll be able to assess your situation, provide you with guidance and organise further assistance should you need it.
  3. If required, contact the Australian Embassy for assistance.
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