Are you over 85 years of age and going overseas? Find out what conditions you need to know about and other travel tips.
Finding travel insurance can be as an older traveller, because a lot of insurers will sweat over the risk of broken hips and pre-existing health conditions acquired over the years. Fortunately, there are still plenty of options available. You can choose your level of cover, compare the prices and find a travel insurance policy that works for you.
Depending on where you’re going and what type of protection you’d like, travel insurance can cover overseas medical expenses, emergency transport back to Australia, lost or stolen passports and luggage, and much more.
- People over 85 are generally deemed to carry a higher risk, which means travel insurance is generally more expensive for you.
- Pre-existing medical conditions can raise the cost of cover
- You can choose what level of cover you want, and can save money by opting out of the things you don’t need.
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More information about Travel insurance for over 85
If you’re over 85, 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 handle any pre-existing conditions in one of three ways.
- They will decide it’s not a problem, and will cover it anyway
- They will ask for more information to make a decision
- They will not cover it
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 are usually 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:
- Cataracts or congenital blindness
- 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
- 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:
- 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.
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.
- Find discounts. There are always a lot of special deals and limited offers. Check this list of current deals to see if you can get a discount or free extras.
- Don’t buy from a travel agent. Travel agents attach a hefty commission to the price of the travel insurance they sell, so buy a policy direct from an insurer either online or over the phone – it’ll save you heaps.
- Choose a lower level of cover. Comprehensive cover obviously costs more than basic travel insurance, so ask yourself whether a policy for budget-conscious travellers might be sufficient.
- Know what you need. Consider where you’re going and what you’re doing before you go shopping for a policy. Doing so will help ensure that you only end up paying for policy benefits you actually need.
- Increase your excess. The excess may be thought of as an administration fee you need to pay when making a claim. Some insurers offer the option of choosing a higher excess in return for lower premiums.
- Get annual multi-trip cover. If you’re a frequent traveller who is likely to take more than two trips in the next year, you can save a substantial amount of money by taking out an annual multi-trip policy. This type of policy covers all the trips you take over a 12-month period and is more affordable than taking out a single policy for each trip.
- Consider credit card cover. You may not know it but many credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance. Just be aware that you’ll need to satisfy certain conditions in order to activate cover, such as paying for your flights using your card.
- Compare quotes. It’s easy to receive a quote for travel insurance online, so get several quotes to make sure you’ve found the right policy.
- Read the PDS. Of course, you shouldn’t choose a policy based on price alone. The product disclosure statement (PDS) has a lot of important information. If you’re having trouble understanding it, or if the fine print is simply too small to read you can call the insurer and ask them for assistance.
- Shop around. Travel insurance for over 85s is important, so it’s worth taking the time to shop around and compare policies.
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 many 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 the inexpensive option for only the most important types of cover, including overseas medical expenses and personal liability.
Taking a cruise isn’t the same as flying to your destination, because large parts of your vacation will be spent on a boat. Cruise travel insurance can provide effective cover of some of the special conditions where standard travel insurance might not.
- Not covered in Australian waters. The moment a cruise ship sets sail for a foreign port you are no longer covered by Medicare or health insurance, and your travel insurance kicks in instead.
- Medical expenses on a cruise can be high. Receiving medical treatment on a cruise ship might be even more expensive than staying in hospital would be. Facilities are also limited, so for a serious health event they might need to call in a (very expensive) medical airlift to get you to a real hospital. Cruise travel insurance can cover these costs, and can even pay out an allowance for compensation if you get confined to your cabin for medical reasons.
- Cruise holidays are at the mercy of the weather. If Mother Nature decides to play up in the middle of your cruise there might be missed shore excursions, missed ports, travel delays and other unwanted interruptions. Cruise travel insurance can cover these.
- What if you’re running late? You’ve probably heard the stories of cruise travellers getting stuck in traffic and missing their boat after a shore excursion. Sometimes it’s possible to fly ahead to the next port, while well heeled travellers might even charter a helicopter to fly them back out to the ship. Your insurer probably won’t rent a helicopter for you, but will often pay for more sensible ways of getting back on track.
- Formal attire cover. If your formal wear is lost, stolen or damaged, you can receive cover for the cost of buying or hiring replacement attire.
- Finding a policy. Some insurers offer special cruise travel insurance policies while others will require you to purchase a cruise pack with your regular policy. A cruise travel insurance policy also covers many of the same things as normal travel insurance, such as luggage and personal belongings, money and travel documents, and personal liability.