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Travel insurance for over 85

Travel insurance for over 85s is vital to protect you from unexpected events linked to your trip. It can include cover for medical expenses, luggage, trip cancellation and some pre-existing medical conditions.

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What you need to know

  • As you age you are generally deemed to carry a higher risk. For this reason, travel insurance gets more expensive.
  • For example, pre-existing medical conditions can raise the cost of your insurance. It is really important that you state any conditions you have when applying for cover.
  • COVID insurance is a feature of about one in three travel insurance policies. Always check your policy with care so you are aware of any restrictions or exclusions.

Finding travel insurance can be a bit tricky as an older traveller. However, there are still options available to you in your golden years. The right travel insurance can cover overseas medical expenses, emergency transport back to Australia, lost or stolen passports and luggage, and more.

What types of travel insurance cover are available?

For overseas trips, many insurers offer a choice of the following levels of cover:

  • Comprehensive cover. This type of policy covers trip cancellation, overseas medical and hospital expenses, luggage and personal belongings, cash and travel documents, travel and luggage delays, accidental death, personal liability, rental vehicle insurance excess, alternative transport arrangements and a whole lot more.
  • Mid-range cover. This type of policy offers a number of the same cover features as a comprehensive policy but with a lower limit. These policies may not provide all the same benefits as comprehensive cover, but will usually protect against trip cancellation, overseas medical expenses, luggage and personal belongings and travel delays.
  • Basic cover. Basic travel insurance is an inexpensive option as it only offers a very limited range of cover, such as overseas medical expenses and personal liability.

Can I get travel insurance with pre-existing conditions?

It is possible to get travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition if you’re over 85. Pre-existing conditions are usually defined as an illness or injury you had prior to taking out a travel insurance policy.

Most insurers will require you to complete a medical questionnaire so they can assess the chance of needing to pay for a medical event while you’re overseas, and identify pre-existing medical conditions. From there, they will typically handle any pre-existing conditions in one of the following ways:

  • They will offer you standard travel insurance cover
  • You'll be offered cover, but without medical cover for your condition
  • You'll be offered insurance at a higher cost
  • The provider sets certain exclusions, restrictions or a higher policy excess
  • You'll be turned down for insurance

The definition of a pre-existing condition

There may be differences between insurers. For example, one provider might define any surgery in the last 12 months as a pre-existing condition, while another will want to know about any surgery in the last 2 years. Generally, however, a pre-existing medical condition can be defined as any of the following:

  • Any medical condition or illness of which you are aware
  • Any condition for which treatment, medication or advice or has been received or prescribed
  • Any chronic or ongoing illness or health condition, including dental ones.
  • Any surgery you have received recently
  • Any symptoms that you know about but have not yet been diagnosed
  • Any condition that you should be seeing a doctor about

Pre-existing conditions that may be covered

Insurers will make exceptions for health issues that technically qualify as pre-existing conditions, but can be safely managed with medication, or aren’t causing further health complications. These can include:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cataracts or congenital blindness
  • Hernia
  • Incontinence
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Sometimes conditions might apply to these. In the case of diabetes, for example, you will often need to have been diagnosed more than 12 months ago so the insurer knows the condition is “stable”.

Pre-existing conditions that the insurer will want to know more about

If you have these, or other issues, the travel insurance provider might ask for more information and give you an additional questionnaire to fill out.

  • Heart problems, or if you have a pacemaker
  • Epilepsy
  • Any recent surgery
  • Lung disease
  • Some types of diabetes
  • If you have suffered from deep vein thrombosis, a stroke or other issues

Pre-existing conditions that are usually not covered

When a condition is not covered, the insurer will not pay out for claims related to it, even if the conditions of policy say they will. Conditions which are typically not covered include:

  • Cancer
  • Diagnosed terminal illnesses
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Mental illness, including dementia and related conditions
  • Congestive heart failure

The exact pre-existing conditions in each category, and whether or not they are covered, vary depending on the insurer and the nature of the condition. It is important that you discuss these with your insurer to understand exactly what is covered.

  • Conditions in the top category are more likely to be covered at no extra cost, or only a small price increase, because they are not as dangerous as the others.
  • Conditions in the bottom, most severe, category are unlikely to be covered, but if they are they will typically cost a lot more.

What else impacts the cost of my cover?

Travel insurance premiums are influenced by a range of factors, including:

  • The length of your trip. The longer your journey, the more your cover will cost.
  • Where you’re going. From natural disasters to political instability, some areas of the world are classified as riskier destinations and you’ll have to pay more for cover there.
  • What you’re doing. Do you want to go skiing or parasailing? If so, don’t be surprised if you have to pay more for cover. to take out extra cover.
  • Travel warnings. If there is an advisory issued against the country you're travelling to, you will usually have to pay more for cover.
  • Your pre-existing conditions. As mentioned above, you may need to pay extra if an insurer agrees to cover your pre-existing medical condition.
  • Raising your benefit limit. If you want additional cover for valuables such as laptops and mobile phones, you may need to pay extra to raise the limits of your cover.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DebbieNovember 9, 2017

    Could you please advise if you have to be an Australian resident to be eligible for any of these travel insurance policies that cover you if you are over 85. I am trying to find travel insurance for my healthy active 86 year old mother who will be visiting in January 2018 for 3 months and cannot find any insurer in Australia that will give her travel insurance. Unfortunately there is no company in South Africa that offers travel insurance for over 85 years of age either. The Australian Dept of Immigration in SA say they will not issue her with a visa unless she has travel insurance. Age discrimination :(

    • Default Gravatar
      LiezlNovember 9, 2017

      Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder.

      I understand where you’re coming from and indeed age is one of the factors considered by the insurers in offering a cover and setting insurance cost. This is because of the higher risk and likelihood of claims as one gets older.

      Some of the insurance brands featured on this page offer policies to nonresidents provided that their trip is within or commencing from Australia. We have a list of Australian insurers that offer inbound travel insurance to those who are visiting Australia, however, as of the moment none of them covers over 75-year old travellers. While insurance options for older seniors are limited, a good travel insurance broker might be able to help you find the right cover for your mom.

      I hope this has helped in a way.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

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