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Reaching 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life. You’ve worked hard, and you deserve a break – it’s time for a holiday!

So, why is travel insurance an important consideration for travellers over 50?

Although you’ve reached the midway point in life, your holiday plans shouldn’t be half thought out. Picking the perfect holiday destination and booking your tickets is only one part of the necessary planning towards enjoying the perfect holiday. Getting appropriate travel insurance cover is another.

Why should over 50s consider travel insurance?

You can plan every detail of your holiday meticulously, but there is no way of predicting unforeseen accidents, illnesses and unfortunate events while travelling. You can, however, purchase travel insurance to ensure that when something unexpected happens on your holiday, you’re covered. Be aware that the level of cover will depend on the travel insurance policy bought.

You don’t want to be overseas, enjoying the finer things in life (like great wine) and visiting the places you’ve always wanted to go, only to wonder: “What happens if something goes wrong on my holiday?”

According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), in 2018-2019 the department helped in 1,506 cases of Australians hospitalised overseas. The top five countries with the most hospitalisations were among some of our favourite holiday destinations:

  1. Thailand (178 cases out of 564,300 visits)
  2. Indonesia (141 cases out of 1,310,900 visits)
  3. New Caledonia (88 cases out of 23,400 visits)
  4. USA (85 cases out of 1,073,900 visits)
  5. Vietnam (68 cases out of 325,500 visits)1,2

USA is fourth on the list of destinations with the highest number of Aussie traveller hospitalisations, which isn’t great news when you consider that hospital stays in the USA cost an average of USD 10,400.3

The last thing you want to do is to have to pay up-front fees out of your own wallet when you could’ve been covered by travel insurance.

What does travel insurance cover for over 50s?

middle-aged Asian tourists on holiday

Having the right travel insurance policy can generally help cover the costs of hospital fees or medical treatment resulting from any health-related incidents that happen while you’re travelling.

However, it can cover much more than that! For starters, the value of the property you take overseas can be insured for damage, loss or theft, such as:

  • travel documents
  • phones, cameras, tablets and electronic devices
  • wallets and purses, including the money or credit card(s) inside
  • luggage.

If you encounter any flight cancellations or delays that impact your holiday, travel insurance can help with related expenses. For example, if your flight is delayed due to bad weather and you miss your tour bus, travel insurance may cover the additional travel expenses to ensure you don’t miss your entire tour. For long delays, travel insurance can even cover appropriate accommodation (so you don’t need to sleep in an airport).

You may need to get some additional cover for specific cases, such as:

While travel insurance can cover hospital and medical fees, flight cancellations, delays and damaged/lost property expenses and more, each policy and provider is different. They will all have different limits, inclusions, exclusions and extras for you to consider before you buy.

As such, it’s important to read and understand the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), so you know what you are covered for.

Different levels of travel insurance and what they cover

Over 50s travellers can generally opt for a single trip policy, or an annual cover policy, which can cover you for every domestic or international trip you make within 12 months. However, these policies will always include trip length limits, sometimes called maximum trip lengths, such as 30 consecutive days.

Basic cover

This cover is great for light travellers who don’t travel far from the hotel. It’s normally the most affordable and includes the most basic features of travel insurance.

However, there are usually limits, conditions and excess payments that vary depending on the provider. Basic policies typically include cover for:

  • 24/7 emergency assistance
  • overseas medical and hospital expenses
  • personal liability (if you accidentally injure someone else or damage their property and it’s your fault).

Standard cover

Mid-level cover is great for travellers who are a bit more adventurous.

It has a wider range of cover than basic policies but may still have certain limits, conditions or excess payments. Standard policies can include cover for:

  • 24/7 emergency assistance
  • overseas medical and hospital expenses
  • personal liability
  • flights you’ve cancelled due to illness or injury
  • stolen/lost luggage and personal belongings.

Comprehensive

High-level cover suits people who want peace of mind from being covered for a wide variety of unexpected events, and adventurers who need the additional protection just in case.

Perhaps you just want the peace of mind of not worrying about a wide variety of unexpected events. Or maybe you’re a bit of an adventurer and need the additional protection just in case.

Coverage will vary between providers, and there may still be certain conditions, limits and excess payments. Comprehensive cover can generally include:

  • unlimited overseas medical cover and assistance services
  • unlimited cancellation cover
  • cover for luggage
  • personal liability cover
  • coverage for travel expenses if you’re delayed like rescheduled flights and additional days of accommodation.

Optional extras

It costs more but adding some optional extras to your travel insurance can provide additional coverage, typically for different kinds of trips.

  • Snow trip cover: This covers medical bills for injuries from skiing and snowboarding, and many policies provide cover for hired equipment if it gets damaged or goes unused due to the resort closing.
  • Cruise cover: A classic choice for travellers over 50, some insurers offer cruise cover as an add-on to cover medical bills and evacuation while out at sea. Other insurers, on the other hand, may offer purpose-built policies that include cruise cover in the standard price.
  • Adventure sports cover: Just because you’re over 50 doesn’t necessarily mean you’re no longer looking for adventure. Adventure sports can cover things like hiking, kayaking, archery, cycling, snorkelling and more. Many insurers will include a selection of activities as standard and offer additional cover for a bigger selection of more extreme sports.
  • Pre-existing medical condition cover: some policies come with the option of paying for pre-existing condition medical cover. This can add peace of mind and cover you for any expenses related to a medical condition that might not have been covered otherwise.

N.B. the specifics of exactly what’s covered will differ between policies and providers. You can check the PDS for details on a specific policy.

How much will you pay for travel insurance?

The cost of travel insurance will vary between providers and is based on a number of factors, including your:

  • destination
  • age
  • desired coverage (including optional extras).

Generally, travel insurance premiums aren’t too much of an expense in the grand scheme of things. Paying these prices may be a little easier on the bank account than paying up-front for hospital fees when overseas, or expenses for recovering lost, damaged or stolen luggage.

Over 50s generally have nothing to worry about when it comes to getting covered, as travel insurers generally cater to anyone in this age bracket. However, it can cost more for Aussies to get covered the older they get, as they represent a greater risk for insurers (or if they have a particular pre-existing medical condition to cover).

It’s common for older travellers to be away from home for longer and take more of their possessions with them, adding to the chance of suffering a loss and impacting the size of an insurance claim.

Frequently asked questions

Will I pay more for travel insurance if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

Taking out cover for your pre-existing medical condition may cost a bit extra, but it can help cover you for most, if not all, medical expenses resulting from your condition.

Although some pre-existing medical conditions are usually automatically covered by travel insurance (like diabetes or high blood pressure), more serious conditions like some forms of cancer or mental illnesses might require assessment and possibly an additional premium to be fully covered.  Insurers may not provide cover for the most serious medical conditions.

It’s important to check with your insurance provider if your condition is covered, and apply for a policy with pre-existing condition cover if you need it.

What’s excluded from travel insurance for over 50s?

Travel insurance exclusions are typically the same regardless of your age. While specific details and exclusions might differ, most travel insurance won’t cover claims if they involve the following:

  • Illegal or reckless behaviour. While they say ‘with age comes wisdom’, it’s still essential to keep in mind that doing something dangerous can void your travel insurance. Also, while other countries have some laws that differ to Australia, breaking them can still deny any travel insurance claims.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, any claim related to it might be denied. However, some insurers will cover most pre-existing medical conditions at an extra cost.
  • Being intoxicated. If you plan on enjoying a glass of bubbly on your holiday, it’s wise to do so in moderation. Otherwise your insurer may deny your claim if you were under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Travel to a country with an active travel warning. If the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has an active travel warning for a country before you buy your airfares, accommodation and travel insurance, then your insurance may be void. You can view the latest travel warnings for different countries around the glove on DFAT’s Smartraveller.

Are there age limits on travel insurance?

There are age limits on travel insurance, though this differs between providers. For example, some travel insurers will cover travellers up to the age of 75, while others may provide cover for those in their 80s or even 90s.

Does my age affect my travel insurance?

If you’re over 50, your age can affect what kinds of travel insurance you may be eligible for. As an example, some providers may not sell annual multi-trip policies if you’re over a certain age, but they can offer single trip cover.

Likewise, optional extras can be limited to customers of a certain age. The exact ages will differ between providers and the types of policy, but insurance providers may not offer ski-trip or adventure cover add-ons based on your age.

Can I purchase travel insurance after I’ve left the country?

Not many travel insurance providers will offer you the option of purchasing cover when you’re already at your overseas destination. Some might offer this if you have forgotten, but this cover may come with extra costs, waiting periods and more limits.

It’s recommended that you purchase travel insurance right after you book your tickets and well before you pack your bags. Making sure you take out travel insurance as soon as possible can save you a whole lot of money and stress in the long run.

Am I covered for cruises?

When you go on a cruise, it’s important to remember that once the ship leaves the dock, you’re generally not covered by Medicare or your private health insurance.

This is why getting a travel insurance policy which is tailored for cruising is essential for covering your medical expenses on board if necessary or even for cruise cancellations.

Cruises aren’t automatically covered under most policies. You’ll generally need to take out cruise cover as an optional extra on your policy, which may cost a little extra.

Cover your trip today

Comparing travel insurance can be difficult if you’re not sure exactly what coverage and protection are needed for your holiday, other than a bottle of SPF 50+ sunscreen.

Our free comparison tools make it easy to weigh up options available through us. Within minutes you can compare policies by coverage, optional extras, excess amounts and price. If you see a policy you like, you can proceed to purchase straight away. Simples!

Sources

1 Consular State of Play 2018-19. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government. 2019.

2 3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia Table 8: Short-term Movement, Residents Returning – Selected Destinations: Seasonally adjusted. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Government. 2020.

3 Costs for Hospital Stays in the United States, 2012. Healthcare Cost and Utilisation Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Department of Healthcare and Human Services, United States Government. 2014

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