TRAVEL PLANNING: Travel Insurance for Over 50s
Buying a travel insurance policy to cover you for any unforeseen medical expenses or financial losses while travelling is an essential part of the planning and preparation for any trip. Finding the best travel insurance policy when you are travel planning and over 50 years old can be difficult and confusing but travel insurance is something we can’t afford to travel without at any age.
Especially true since the Coronavirus pandemic. Let’s look at travel insurance for senior travellers.
Travel insurance is there if the unexpected ever happens. Travel insurance is there for you in an emergency situation while you are travelling outside of your own home country of residency.
Travel insurance can provide a financial safety net and get you the support and assistance you need if you ever get ill or are involved in an accident, an incident, or worse, during travel and while on holiday or vacation abroad.
At the very least travel insurance should provide you with peace of mind.
That’s why it’s so important that you choose the right travel insurance policy for your needs.
When the backpacking husband and I were younger, travel insurance was much easy to buy and much easier to afford.
As we are now both middle-aged (we are both 61) we see travel insurance has become ever more specialised and ever more costly.
Especially, if there are existing medical conditions to report that can increase the travel insurance quotation.
In fact, travel insurance for the over 50-year olds can be something of a major personal investment.
We can do all we can to minimise risks while we travel. We can take advice. We can be cautious. We can get all our travel vaccines and be super careful. BUT life is risky. Leaving home can be risky. You still might get sick. Accidents can and do happen and usually when you least expect it and when you are least prepared.
For all these reasons, it’s important to get the right insurance cover for your AGE, for your EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS, and for the specific DESTINATIONS where you intend to travel.
Spending money on a travel insurance policy that doesn’t cover you for all the things that you need in an emergency situation abroad is not only a terrible waste of your money but it also means you’ll have no safety net while travelling.
It’s down to YOU to choose responsibly and to buy the right travel insurance policy.
It’s daunting and scary and a huge responsibility I know – but don’t panic!
But, first of all, I need you to know I am NOT an expert in travel insurance and this article is meant as general guidance only. I’m just like you. I’m someone who buys travel insurance and I’ve had some experience of choosing and buying a travel insurance policy over a period of many years and for global long-term travel.
However, I also need you to know that I’ve only ever claimed on a policy once in my life and that was over 20 years ago. On that occasion, one of our children had a tummy ache in Orlando and we had him checked out (at great expense) at the hospital. Since then, and while travelling the world with my backpacking husband, we have never had a reason to make a claim on a travel insurance policy.
That’s not to say that while we have been travelling things have always gone to plan for us and that a life of travel is always spent in sunshine and flip-flops. Because we have on occasion experienced situations of travel mishaps and mayhem and needed to see a doctor or a dentist or a pharmacist or we’ve lost or mislaid stuff and even managed to miss a flight.
But as our incurred costs during these incidents have never exceeded our travel insurance policy ‘excess’ we have never needed to make a claim. An ‘excess’ is an agreed payment stipulated in your policy that your insurance company will ask you to pay towards any claim that you may make.
All that has been down to luck rather than to anything else but what about the next time?
That time I had a toothache and went to see a dentist in South Korea MIGHT have proved to be more expensive. The time I slipped on a footpath in the rain in Thailand and scraped the skin off my foot and had to go to the pharmacist COULD have been a broken bone and a hospital admission if I just hadn’t been holding onto my husband’s arm at the time. That time we were in Central America and the backpacking husband was bitten by a mosquito and was feeling unwell COULD have been Dengue Fever.
From my experience of travelling I wouldn’t want to rely on luck alone.
I’d much rather know that my insurance policy covered me for such emergencies.
A Note About Travel Restrictions
PLEASE NOTE: Although this article is primarily focused on travel insurance, right now and at the time of writing, I do not advocate or encourage you to travel outside your home country. Many countries are in lockdown due to Coronavirus restrictions and won’t allow foreign travellers entry. Some countries will allow tourists entry but only under strict rules and provisos and those rules and the risks related to foreign travel are in a constant change of flux due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
As more and more countries do open their borders again, it is important and useful for you to know the very latest in travel information. There are lots of websites online offering current and regularly updated travel information to help you make a personal risk assessment on whether you should be travelling or not.
Your own country will have official government guidance on travel which should be your first point of reference. This is the UK Government Foreign Travel Advice Page.
For country by country re-opening guidance I also recommend The Points Guy and Travel Off Path for comprehensive and regularly updated border information. Please do keep in mind that travel information can change without notice.
Okay… let’s Get Back To Travel Insurance
Why do you need travel insurance?
What kind of travel insurance do you need?
How does Travel Insurance work?
What IS covered and what is NOT covered?
Buying a travel insurance policy can feel confusing and overwhelming and time consuming.
But it’s really important to carefully read all the TERMS AND CONDITIONS and read THE SMALL PRINT and to be fully aware of what IS covered and what is NOT covered in the policy.
Travel insurance is often sold with a choice of different Levels of Cover that are often called something like Basic Cover for emergency medical insurance only, Premium Cover that will also cover you against any lost luggage and travel delays, and a Fully Comprehensive Cover that will cover you for most eventualities. Generally, you should always buy the policy that suits you best.
I can honestly say that I’ve never travelled without even the basic level of travel insurance.
Travel Tip: Take a note of your travel insurance policy number and contact number and keep it somewhere where you can find and access it in the case of an emergency. Also share this information and your travel itinerary with your loved ones back home as a back-up.
Who are the best providers of Travel Insurance? Over the years, I have used several different UK travel insurance providers.
I’ve bought single trip family travel policies comprehensively covering all eventualities when we were taking the kids on holidays. As empty nesters, when the backpacking husband and I decided to travel full time, we started out taking travel insurance policies out in three monthly chunks.
But, if we were still travelling when the policy expired, we then had to renew with travel insurers who allow you to take out a policy or to renew one while still abroad and this is when we discovered that most insurance companies require you to be in your country of residence during the time of purchase of your policy and often require you to have a return ticket for within a specified time.
For this reason, when we’ve been on an extend round the world trip, it has made sense for us to take out comprehensive annual multi-destination global travel policies from the outset when we have bought cover for all our flights, travel arrangements, and our luggage and stuff.
But sometimes and increasingly, as we prefer to travel light and we don’t carry any expensive equipment with us, it has made financial sense for us to buy EMERGENCY MEDICAL insurance cover only for in the event of personal injury, accidents, and any unexpected illnesses, rather than for any flight delays, travel interruptions, cancellations or material losses.
Except, it was during one of those times when we had only bought an emergency medical cover only insurance policy for ourselves, rather than one covering any trip interruption cover, that we were in Thailand and got the news of a close relative’s illness at home that was life threatening.
Of course, we had to fly home immediately – on the 2nd January and at one of the busiest and most expensive times of the year – and our basic cover insurance didn’t cover us for the cost of the travel.
On that occasion, we had to whip out our emergency credit card and accept the unforeseen costs.
But the incident did make us wish that we’d bought the extra insurance cover. We’d thought we were saving money by buying a basic cover policy… but in the end it had backfired on us.
Travel Tip: If you are involved in an accident or incident however serious or minor then do keep any receipts and paperwork relating to what has happened to assist you in any travel insurance claim.
10 Important Things To Look For When Choosing Travel Insurance
1. Choose a reputable Insurance Company and do your research. Read recommendations and reviews. Trust Pilot is a great website for consumer reviews and Money Saving Expert website is a good resource for checking out travel insurance providers. Insurers that I have used myself and therefore recommend to you include World Nomads, True Traveller, and Stay Sure.
2. Decide on the type of travel insurance cover you need. Do you want to cover for any cancellations to your travel arrangements and for your cash and personal property? Especially important if you have high-value items with you while travelling. Or, do you only want cover for accident and medical emergency and repatriation should you need to come home quickly or if you die abroad?
3. Buy your travel insurance before you set off on your travels. Buying insurance at the same time you are booking your trip is a sensible option as you will be able to include cancellation insurance. With a home start and a return ticket and a trip lasting less than 90 or 120 days you will also have lots of options regarding the company you choose as your travel insurance provider.
4. Travel Insurance when you are already travelling: There are not so many travel insurance companies to choose from when you are already travelling. The best I have found are: World Nomads (Global) and True Traveller (UK). I’ve heard other nomads recommending Safety Wing (global).
5. Nomadic Travel Insurance: For those of you like the backpacking husband and I, who are normally nomadic (under a non-Covid situation) and travelling full time without a home base, then the global options for insurance in #4 will perhaps be more suited to you. But I must warn you that you will normally have to have a registered home address for your policy application.
6. The Matter of a Registered Home Address: It’s essential to have a registered home address for all sorts of reasons – banking, healthcare, paying tax, voting, driving licence, etc. I know lots people who are nomadic world travellers or who live in an RV or motorhome who use the private address of a family member or a good friend or even the office of their lawyer or accountant for this purpose. We use the address of a house we rent back in the UK and where we have stayed during the pandemic.
7. Single trip policies or annual policies? Work out which will be best for you depending on the region and the countries included in the policy and the additional benefits to buying an annual policy. I have found travel to (even transiting through) the United States of America is often an optional extra on policies and charged at a premium. During my last trip, I managed overcome the additional expense of adding an overnight transit through the USA by buying an annual policy with True Traveller as it allows for 14 days in the USA as part of the annual policy at no extra cost.
8. Declare all your pre-existing conditions and make sure the travel Insurance policy will cover emergency repatriation and check for Covid and any Covid related illness cover. If you have travel insurance cover included through a credit card or a bank account are there any age restrictions to their cover? Do they know about any pre-existing conditions, any prescription medications or any doctor or hospital appointments you’ve attended over the past few years? If not, then you might NOT be as well covered as you think or not covered at all.
9. What age are you? Unfortunately, the older you are then the more expensive and more difficult it becomes to find travel insurance. Some travel insurance companies will only provide cover to under 65-year-olds. If you are older then you might want to use a company that specialises in insuring older travellers and those with pre-existing conditions. Take a look at GoodToGo Insurance (UK) and Saga Insurance and check out Money Saving Expert for a list of Over 65 travel insurance options.
10. Travel Insurance Europe: Travelling from UK to Europe? The free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to treatment in state-run hospitals in the EU at the same cost as a local person. After Brexit (1 January 2021) those in the UK who have an existing EHIC can continue to use it in EU countries (but not Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, as they’re not part of the EU) until the expiry date on the card. If you don’t have an EHIC or it’s expiring then you’ll now get a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. The GHIC card is FREE and you can apply online at The Official NHS Website.
For up to date European travel information the website OPEN EU is a useful resource tool listing the current restrictions in Europe and when countries are reopening.
What does Travel Insurance cost?
Get a Quote from WORLD NOMAD TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance: simple & flexible
You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
Conclusion: I do hope this guide on travel insurance has been helpful to you and has helped you to understand the importance of having the right travel insurance and how to go about finding it.
The information I have included here is based on my own experience as a UK national. I appreciate that your own requirements will pertain to your own country of residence.
Do leave a comment if you have any travel insurance stories to tell or information about travel insurance or recommendations that you’d like to add that might help other travellers!All of the information provided about travel insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.