What travel insurance do I need?

As you get older, finding the right travel insurance cover is critical. If you're considering a one-click-to-buy, one-size-fits-all policy, then think again. Does it really give you the level of cover you need?

By reporter Andrew Silk

Many of us will have faced the problem of obtaining suitable travel insurance as they get older – it’s a fact of the travel insurance business. Unlike other insurance, it seems that the older you are the less attractive you are as a customer – age discrimination is alive and well amongst travel insurance companies.

However, the main reason that travel insurance is more expensive for older travellers is because they are more likely to claim for health problems while on holiday than younger travellers – and medical claims are much more costly than most other types of claim.

False economies
The unfortunate thing about travel insurance is that most people view it as an evil necessity when in fact they should be viewing it as the safety net into which you fall should, heaven forbid, anything go wrong. For far too many people the purchase of travel insurance is often a price-led purchase – they go for the cheapest option – when in fact this could, and almost certainly will – be a false economy should you unfortunately be faced with having to make a claim.

The other alternative is that people buy travel insurance at the point of purchase of their holiday believing this will be sufficient to cover them. In these cases it will almost certainly be more expensive than similar cover bought elsewhere and may also be a policy that is not fit for your purpose or needs.

What you mustn’t do is buy travel insurance without declaring any pre-existing conditions that you may suffer from.

I have already alluded to health problems earlier in this article, but you shouldn’t let a pre-existing medical condition put you off travelling. All insurance companies now have sophisticated medical screening in place, one that has been built up over time and through experience – they are used to covering all sorts of medical conditions.

What you mustn’t do is buy travel insurance without declaring any pre-existing conditions that you may suffer from. If you do and you need to make a claim you will find out that you are not covered – and this could be very expensive.

I asked Chris Newton, Director of JustTravelCover.com, for his top tips when considering travel insurance – and these were his recommendations:

  • If you are travelling in some of the more litigious countries, such as the USA, then make sure that you have adequate personal liability cover – a minimum of around £1m would be advisable.
  • Make sure that your policy has adequate cancellation and curtailment cover – this will cover you if you fall ill before you depart or should you need to return from your holiday early.
  • Make sure you have a minimum of between £1m and £2m of medical cover and you may want to make this higher if visiting America or Australia where medical costs are notoriously expensive.
  • Make sure you put your cover in place when you book your holiday – don’t leave it until just before you depart – if anything happens in between booking and departure you won’t be covered.
  • And finally, always check the contents of your insurance policy to make sure it gives you the cover and comfort that you need.

Talking to Chris, it is this last one that is the key. As they say the ‘devil is in the detail’ so make sure that you read the level of cover that applies to each category, the small print and make sure you have declared your medical conditions. More importantly, if you are unsure about something ask your insurer and keep a record that you have done so – this way you will make sure that your cover is suitable for your needs.

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