All travellers should take the precaution of buying a travel insurance policy for trips away from the UK, and it is especially sensible if you’re an older traveller. You may be in good health, and be an experienced and cautious holidaymaker, but no-one can foresee what problems may crop up, and statistics point to the fact that older travellers are more likely to make a claim on their travel insurance. This is usually to recoup the costs of receiving medical treatment abroad, or for a holiday cancelled because of ill-health.
Just as important as simply taking out travel insurance, is making sure that you’re properly covered with the travel insurance that you do select. Here are some things to bear in mind:
1. Choose the right policy for you – you need to select the right policy for the travel that you have planned. If you have several short trips planned for the coming year, it may be good value to take out an Annual Multi Trip policy. The important thing is to check the maximum length of trips that you are allowed e.g. do trips have to be up to 31 days in duration? You are usually allowed to take as many trips as you like (as long as they aren’t over the maximum length of time) and they are within your chosen region. Be careful with the region cover that you select – if you are having a prolonged stopover – you might have to expand your area cover e.g. you might choose the area cover of ‘Australia and New Zealand’ but you’re stopping en-route in Singapore for 3 days, so you should actually choose to be covered for ‘Worldwide excluding USA, Canada and the Caribbean.’ You also have to think about getting the cover levels that you need – you might find a cheap policy, but will it cover the cost of the trip if you have to cancel it? Will it offer cover for lost or stolen passports, or travel money? Also, is the policy excess sensible? Just taking a little bit of time to check a policy wording and benefits to see what you’re covered for, could save confusion and frustration if a claims situation does happen. If you’ve decided to start afresh or join loved ones abroad, by emigrating, then you will need a specialist one-way policy. Don’t be tempted to buy a standard single-trip policy, as it won’t be valid if you don’t actually intend to return to the UK by the policy end date. A good one-way policy will cover your outward journey and also give you reassurance and breathing space whilst you settle in and make more permanent healthcare and insurance arrangements. You can even get one-way travel insurance for your much-loved pets that you are taking with you!
2. Declare a pre-existing medical condition – Don’t be tempted not to mention a medical problem that you have suffered from in the past, or have currently got – as you need to let your travel insurer know. They can then decide to cover this extra risk factor as standard, or charge you extra to cover the additional risk of you potentially making a claim. If you do need to declare a pre-existing medical condition, either via an online questionnaire, or a telephone conversation, be as thorough and accurate as you can. It is a false economy to take out a policy where you haven’t disclosed medical problems, as there could well be problems if you then need to make a medical claim, and your policy would then prove worthless if your problem was related to a medical problem that you hadn’t declared. You may not be suffering from any symptoms at the moment, but if you are taking regular prescribed medication, or have suffered from certain conditions in the past, you will need to declare these. The best idea is to look carefully at the criteria or questions that your particular insurer ask, to see if you do need to do medical screening. There are sometimes occasions that your travel insurer is unable to offer cover for your particular condition, or your condition is recently diagnosed or undergoing tests. Not all insurers use the same criteria to make decisions, so it is worth shopping around and trying other insurers, alternatively, your best option may be to get a quote from a travel insurer who specialises in covering medical conditions. The cost may be more expensive, but it could be a drop in the ocean if you suffer a serious medical problem, which requires hospital treatment and repatriation back to the UK.
3. Going on a Cruise holiday – If you are lucky enough to be going on a cruise holiday, or a cruise is part of your holiday itinerary, then you need to check whether this is covered as standard by your chosen policy, or whether you will have to pay an additional premium to cover this kind of holiday. Just why do you pay extra for going on a cruise? One reason is the cancellation cover – cruise holidays can be more costly than the average trip away – so you may need to pay extra to get additional cancellation cover, if you are unable to go on your trip as planned. Also, if you’re ill on a ship in the middle of the ocean, then there may only be limited medical facilities on board, and you may need to be removed from the boat, which can be a costly process. Often, you get additional cruise benefits, if you take out the additional cover, which may prove very useful once aboard. These may include benefits for things like cabin confinement if you are injured or ill and also the purchase or hire of replacement items of formal cruise attire if it is misplaced, lost or stolen on your outward journey. You may find that you won’t be able to take out an annual multi-trip policy if there is a cruise element to any of your trips, so it is worth checking this out. If you’re planning a trip in the UK, you might not bother to take out travel insurance, as you don’t see the point. Although, you don’t need the cover for medical expenses, thanks to the NHS, there are other benefits of travel insurance, that are still useful no matter where you are travelling. One key area is cancellation cover – if you are ill or bereaved and can’t travel as planned, you might find yourself out of pocket for pre-booked accommodation and travel fares, unless you’ve taken out a policy. Similarly, if you have cash or valuables stolen on your UK break, there wouldn’t be cover in place, if you hadn’t taken out a travel insurance policy. It is best to take out an appropriate policy, choose carefully as some insurers specify that you have to travel a certain distance for your holiday to be covered,, others specify that you are spending a minimum number of nights away from home. Some insurers allow you to select the region cover of ‘UK’, others just cover the trip under the region of ‘Europe’, it’s best to shop around and get the right cover for you.
4.Travelling to a holiday home – As an older traveller, you could well have retired and have the freedom to travel away from the UK for a few weeks or months. You may travel to a holiday home, or another form of accommodation, to regularly escape the English winters, or be planning a one-off dream trip away to tick off a section of your bucket list. If the former is the case, you need to be particularly wary about a residency requirement that most UK travel insurers will have in place e.g. your chosen insurer may ask that you have been physically present in the UK for a minimum of 6 months out of the last 12. This is a surprising requirement to some, but it is put in place to guard against people that regularly spend the majority of time out of the UK, and are at risk of losing their eligibility to free NHS treatment. If you are somebody who is away for the majority of the year, it could well be that a private healthcare policy would be more suitable for your needs. It is worth bearing this in mind when planning how long to spend away from the UK, and also, looking at the particular residency requirement of insurers, as these can vary. Another thing to bear in mind, is that the vast majority of UK insurers will ask that you start your journey in the UK, and they will need to cover the entire duration of time that you are away, until you return, to ensure validity. You may decide that you only want cover for cancellation, and for the initial journey out to your holiday home, and don’t want to cover the entire time. This is possible, if you select a one-way policy, which can cover this (and also for a selected period of time once you’ve arrived, sometimes) but you will then run the risk of not being covered for the remaining time that you are there, and also the journey back to the UK. If you regularly spend the majority of your time away from the UK, it may be that the best option for you is international private health cover, rather than travel insurance.
5. Sports and Adventurous Activities – It may well be that your precious holiday time is for relaxing and not doing very much at all, apart from some sightseeing and shopping for souvenirs. However, if you’re a confirmed adrenaline junkie or sports enthusiast then you need to check whether your planned activities are covered as standard, or whether there is an extra charge to be covered for doing these. It is not worth risking doing any activity without the cover required, as it could prove very costly if you get injured whilst doing the activity – or if you have a serious accident – require repatriation back to the UK. Even if you take out separate insurance from the activity provider, or take out separate cover from another provider for the activity, this may cause problems and complications with the travel insurance provider that you cover your trip with, as they want to cover you for all of the things that you plan to do – and all of the risks posed. You may not consider what you have planned, to be an ‘adventurous’ activity’ as it may be a typical tourist pastime, or be offered by the tour company, but you need to check the activities covered by your particular insurer, carefully. Things like a non-UK booked elephant trek or trekking at altitude, may well not be covered as standard, and you need to make sure that you have cover in place before you embark on them.
Go Walkabout Travel Insurance are specialists in providing comprehensive and competitively-priced travel insurance policies for older travellers. We can offer cover for travellers up to the age of 99, and pride ourselves on offering a UK-based call-centre with friendly, helpful staff, as well as an easy-to-navigate website where you can buy your policy online.
Click here to get a quote.