Over 85s enjoying the view

Travel Insurance for Over 85

Are you over 85 years of age and going overseas? Find out what conditions you need to know about and other seniors travel tips

One of the best things about retirement is that you finally have the freedom to do what you want, and if you enjoy travelling there’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. But if you’re 85 years of age or older, finding travel insurance for your worldwide adventures can be difficult.

As insurers class people in your age bracket as being more likely to make a claim and therefore as high-risk customers, finding affordable cover isn’t always easy. With a range of conditions and exclusions applied to cover, not to mention the special underwriting requirements for pre-existing medical conditions, travel insurance cover for over 85s can be confusing.

But don’t let this put you off getting cover. Travel insurance offers financial protection against all manner of potential travel mishaps, and if you’re hospitalised overseas and you don’t have travel insurance, the resulting costs you’ll have to meet could be astronomical.

Although travel insurance for over 85s is more expensive than for younger people, cover is still available. Just be aware of the fact that you may be required to submit evidence of your health and medical history when applying for cover.

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What about pre-existing medical conditions?

If you’re over 85 years of age, most insurers require you to complete a medical questionnaire.

Insurers want to know your medical history so they can determine the likelihood of you suffering an overseas medical emergency, which is why you have to declare any pre-existing medical conditions applying for cover.

A pre-existing medical condition is defined as any of the following:

  • Any medical condition or illness of which you are aware
  • Any condition for which treatment, medication, advice or investigation have been received or prescribed
  • Any chronic or ongoing medical or dental condition or illness
  • Any surgery you have received in the past 12 months
  • Any symptoms for which you are awaiting diagnosis
  • Any condition for which you see a medical professional

Check with your insurance provider to see the precise definition they use for pre-existing conditions and how they affect your eligibility for cover.

I have a pre-existing condition … where does that leave me?

Although the treatment of pre-existing conditions varies between insurance brands, travel insurance is designed to offer protection against unforeseen and unexpected events, not against pre-existing problems.

Having said that there are some pre-existing conditions that most insurers will automatically cover including diabetes, epilepsy and asthma.

Several more serious conditions are automatically excluded from cover by the vast majority of providers. t’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find an insurer who covers cancer, heart disease, mental illness or terminal illness.

If your condition isn’t on the list of automatically covered or excluded conditions, you may be able to apply for cover for that condition. This usually involves submitting a medical declaration form or questionnaire, and in certain cases you may also need to undergo medical testing. Make sure to disclose all relevant information about your medical history when applying for cover, as failing to do so could lead to future claims being refused and your policy cancelled.

Finally, if the insurer agrees to cover your condition, you will most likely have to pay an additional premium for the privilege and there may also be special conditions attached to your policy.

What are the age restrictions of different brands?

AMEX Travel InsuranceComprehensive policy available for those under 89 years of age.Get quote
AIGIf you're over the age of 85 you'll need to complete a Mature Age Assessment application.Get quote
Budget Direct Travel InsuranceBudget Direct covers travellers up to the age of 100.Get quote
Citibank Travel InsuranceCover is available for travellers up to 89 years of age.Get quote
DownunderPlans A and B are available to those over 85.Get quote
Fast CoverThere is cover for travellers over 90 years of age.Get quote
InsureandGoYou can get cover until the age of 100 at the date of application.Get quote
Southern CrossAvailable for those under 101 years of age.
Virgin MoneyVirgin does not list an age for single trips policies.Get quote

Apart from my age, 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 insurance if you plan on visiting them.
  • What you’re doing. Do you want to go skiing or parasailing? If so, don’t be surprised if you have to pay more to take out extra cover.
  • Travel warnings. If there is an advisory issued against the country you're travelling to you will not have 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 receive the benefit limits you need.

Tips to get cheaper travel insurance for over 85s

  • 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. 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.
  • Take advantage of discounts. Whether it’s a promotional offer or perhaps a loyalty discount from an insurer with which you already have another policy, keeping an eye out for special offers and discounts can make a big difference to your hip pocket.
  • Compare quotes. It’s easy to receive a quote for travel insurance online, so get several quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Read the PDS. Of course, you shouldn’t choose a policy based only on its price. The product disclosure statement (PDS) may be boring but it contains a range of useful information – reading it will help you understand the cover available and how it compares to offerings from other insurers.
  • Shop around. The protection offered by travel insurance for over 85s is critically important, so take the time to shop around and compare policies.

What types of 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 many of the same cover features as a comprehensive policy but with a lower limit. These policies may not provide cover loss of income but generally provide cover for trip cancellation, overseas medical expenses, luggage and personal belongings and travel delays are all covered.
  • Basic cover. Basic travel insurance for over 85s generally offers cover for overseas medical expenses and personal liability.

Are seniors travel insurance companies even different?

No. Don’t be fooled by ads or marketing campaigns – companies that specialise in travel insurance for seniors still offer the same types of policies and the same underwriting process as all other insurance companies. They also offer the same age restrictions and are underwritten by the same companies, so don’t automatically assume that you’ll be getting a better deal if you take out cover with a seniors’ travel insurance provider.

I’m over 85 and heading on a cruise...what do I need to know?

  • Not covered in Australian waters. If you think your medical expenses will be covered if you fall ill or are injured while cruising in Australian waters, you’re not. Neither Medicare or your private health insurance will offer cover in this situation, so cruise travel insurance is a must.
  • Medical expenses on a cruise can be high. Receiving treatment in a cruise ship’s medical facility is typically not cheap, and could possibly cost you up to $5,000 a day. And if the medical emergency you experience requires you to be evacuated from the ship, those costs can quickly skyrocket. Happily, cruise travel insurance covers your medical and treatment expenses and also your ship to shore evacuation if required. In addition, if you’re confined to your cabin for medical reasons, you’ll receive a daily allowance.
  • Cruise holidays are at the mercy of the weather. If Mother Nature decides to play up when you’re meant to be enjoying your tropical cruise, cancellations can occur – but cruise travel insurance policies can provide the cover you need for missed shore excursions, missed ports, trip interruptions and travel delays.
  • What if you’re running late? If traffic, missed connections or other unforeseen circumstances cause you to arrive late to port, you could miss the boat. Once again, cruise travel insurance for over 85s can help with cover for missing your cruise or missing the boat after a shore excursion.
  • Formal attire cover. If your formal wear is lost, stolen or damaged, you’ll 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.

Review the travel insurance brands in the finder.com.au panel that offer cover to travellers over 85

Picture: Marina del Castell, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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