Don’t underestimate this travel insurance mistake

Travel insurance benefits for over-60s

Australian baby boomers are the fastest growing group of people travelling overseas. And with that new desire to see the world comes the need to organise travel insurance.

But as the years add up, so too do the ailments, the illnesses and the pre-existing medical conditions that can increase premiums and travel insurance policy prices.

Karen O’Brien from Queensland says it was her pre-existing medical conditions that led to a few surprises when arranging her travel insurance.

“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,” she says.

“Following the operation and the associated physiotherapy, I now walk without a cane and have done so since June 2016.

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“I also have raised blood pressure and cholesterol and my husband had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) inserted two years ago and is monitored frequently by his specialist – all working well and with no incidents.”

But while planning her recent trip to China, the idea of travelling without travel insurance at all popped into her head, but not without trying.

“So far five companies have declined to insure us, full stop,” says Karen.

But Campbell Fuller, a spokesperson from Understand Insurance, a financial literacy initiative of the Insurance Council of Australia, says mature Aussies can do a few things to make the process as simple as possible and it’s not always about getting the best price.

Read more: Safe countries for retired women travelling alone

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For travellers over 60 who have pre-existing medical conditions, it is particularly important to organise travel insurance. 

“This is especially important for those heading overseas where medical costs for sick or injured travellers can sometimes exceed $100,000.”

“If you incur medical expenses overseas and you don’t have travel insurance, you are personally liable for the costs, as these will not be paid by the government, Medicare or your domestic private health insurance.”

Fuller also suggests arranging travel insurance based on your specific travel plans.

“Choose a policy based on its features, not just price. Select a policy that covers all the destinations you intend to visit, and also the activities you plan to engage in,” he says.

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“Some travel insurers offer policies designed for cruise ship passengers. Other policies allow travellers to buy additional cover for cruise-related losses for an extra premium.

“Additional cruise cover may include reimbursements if the passenger is confined to a cabin for medical reasons, missed cruise departure and reimbursements for cancelled port visits or shore excursions.” he says.

Other tips for mature travellers looking for travel insurance include:

  • Discuss your travel plans with your doctor before making a booking.
  • Take a letter of explanation if you are bringing a large amount of medication for you, just in case you require medical attention while away.
  • Alert your insurance provider if your health circumstances change between buying your policy and leaving for your trip, to make sure you still have adequate coverage.
  • If you’re worried about whether your luggage is covered, consider whether it’s worth taking out an additional policy for your expensive items like camera equipment, laptops or jewellery.
  • Buy your policy as soon as you book your trip so that you’re covered if anything goes wrong before you leave.
  • If you intend to hire cars or bikes while you’re away, find out if that is covered by your policy.
  • Listen to government warning, your policy might not be valid if you visit a country that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns against travelling to.

What have your experiences been like organising travel insurance? Let us know in the comments section below or via the Travel at 60 Facebook page.

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