On my bucket list for many years has been to walk on the Great Wall of China and in eight weeks’ time, I am going to do just that! To say I am thrilled to be achieving this goal is an understatement. But I have hit a snag: travel insurance.
You see, I had a discectomy 12 months ago, a procedure to remove part of a spinal disc that is putting pressure on a spinal nerve root. Following the operation and the associated physiotherapy, I now walk without a cane and have done so since June 2016.
But, and you can see where this is heading, that means I have a pre-existing medical condition. For full disclosure, I also have raised blood pressure and cholesterol, but due to medication and lifestyle changes, my dosages of both these meds have recently been halved – something that seemed to upset the person taking my details.
To add to our litany of pre-existing conditions my husband also had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) inserted two years ago and is monitored frequently by his specialist – all working well and with no incidents.
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Our doctor has offered to give us a letter telling potential insurers that we are both quite fit to travel, but visiting doctors seems to indicate you are “sick”. I would be more suspicious of someone in our age group who had absolutely NO pre-existing conditions, that would indicate that they probably need a visit to their doctor.
It is also amusing that when I worked 70 hours a week in a very high stress position, rarely went to the doctor and was probably sitting on a much worse blood pressure number than I am at present, I had no trouble getting cover. I don’t expect to even need it, as I have never made a claim on previous trips.
But here is the really interesting question – why does a back or heart problem exclude your baggage from cover or influence the carrier to suddenly stop flying? You guessed it – we have not only been refused insurance for our existing medically diagnosed problems, so far five companies have declined to insure us full stop.
Some of the comments from the (very young) voice on the phone have been laughable – “If the carrier goes broke you will have to take up the return flight with them”. I would happily do that but when they went broke they turned off the phones.
Can anyone please assist and suggest an insurance company who understands seniors? (National Seniors have been approached but have not yet given me an answer). I know the panel of expert Starts at 60 travellers will have the answer.
Insurance or no — Great Wall, here I come!
Do you have any advice for Karen in her hunt for travel insurance as an over-60 traveller? Let her know in the comments section below.