Travel Agents

How to help senior clients choose insurance

When it comes to finding a travel insurance policy for senior travellers, how do you know you’re getting the best deal? In this contributed piece, Fast Cover gives a few handy tips to getting the right cover for older travellers.

While most travel insurance companies do cater for older travellers, you might find yourself contending with age restrictions and more expensive premiums, amongst other things.

Fast Cover CEO Dean Van Es says finding a travel insurance policy for senior travellers can be time-consuming if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

“Every traveller has different priorities, but there are a few general restrictions and exclusions to keep in mind when it comes to comparing travel insurance policies for seniors,” says Van Es.

Fast Cover have put together the following guide to help you compare travel insurance options for your senior clients, as well as some tips to help you both save time and money.

Age Restrictions

First of all, be aware that some travel insurers don’t offer cover to seniors over a certain age at all, while other companies may only impose an age restriction on Annual or Multi-Trip policies.

For example, Fast Cover can provide single trip policies to travellers of all ages. However, the Frequent Traveller Saver (Multi-Trip) policy is restricted to travellers under 65 years of age.

It’s also worth being mindful that age restrictions can apply to pre-existing medical conditions. For instance, an insurer may only provide cover for diabetics or asthmatics up to a particular age.

Similarly, cover for certain activities such as skiing and other snow sports may also have age limitations worth taking into consideration.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

For insurance purposes, a pre-existing condition may include anything your client has been diagnosed with in their lifetime, is taking medication for, or is exhibiting any symptoms of at the time they purchased a policy.

It’s important to note that common ailments like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and arthritis, even if well-managed, can still be considered pre-existing medical conditions.

Similarly, injuries and surgical procedures such as knee and hip replacements are also usually considered a pre-existing condition, even once fully healed.

The list of conditions which a travel insurer covers can be found on their website or in the Product Disclosure Statement. If a condition isn’t listed, then there’s a good chance it won’t be covered. However, in some cases the traveller can pay an additional premium to cover the condition.

If your clients have any medical conditions, make sure that they’re adequately covered. They may gripe about the extra cost, but overseas medical expenses can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.

According to Smart Traveller, a hospital stay in the US can set you back upwards of $5,000 per night, and DFAT have handled medical evacuations from Bali in which costs exceeded $60,000 AUD.

If your client winds up in hospital with an illness or injury that’s related to an undisclosed medical condition, they’ll likely have to foot the bill.

Cruise Cover

Cruising is undoubtedly one of the most popular holiday choices for senior travellers, but not all travel insurance policies automatically include cruise cover.

If your client’s travel itinerary includes any nights spent onboard an ocean cruise liner, you may need to specify this when organising their travel insurance policy.

Day-trips, ferries and river cruises may not require the additional cruise cover, but it’s best to double check. If your client requires a medical evacuation from the ship and doesn’t have cruise cover in place, it could cost them tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Some of Fast Cover’s highest paid claims are from seniors on cruises. For example, an elderly traveller fell out of bed during rough seas on a Worldwide cruise and injured her back and neck.

She needed to be airlifted off the ship to the nearest land hospital for treatment at a total cost of over $190,000 AUD. Thankfully, her Fast Cover travel insurance policy covered these expenses.

Cover for Valuable Belongings

Hearing aids, wheelchairs, and other valuables such as jewellery may not be automatically covered by a travel insurance policy. Your clients may find that these items could already be covered in their home and contents insurance.

If not, check to see if you can add them onto the travel insurance policy as specified high-value items. This will also help to avoid depreciation being applied to the items in the event of a claim.

Alternatively, it may be best to suggest leaving expensive items or items of sentimental value safely locked away at home.

Activities

Travel insurance may automatically cover a range of sports and activities such as golf, hot air ballooning or kayaking. However, higher-risk activities may not be automatically covered.

If your senior client is more of an adventurous type and is planning any activities such as scuba diving, sailing or deep-sea fishing, check whether they’ll need to purchase additional cover and if there’s any age restrictions.

Excess

The excess is the amount a policy holder will be responsible for in the event of a claim.

For example, if your client needs to make a claim for $2,000 worth of medical expenses and there’s a $200 excess applying to that section of the policy, the $200 excess would be deducted from the amount paid under the claim. In this case, the most they could be reimbursed for is $1,800.

The traveller may also be offered an option to reduce or even waive the excess by paying an additional amount with their premium.

Keep in mind that older travellers may attract a higher excess for any medical claims. This is usually fixed and cannot be reduced or waived.

5 tips to help you get the best deal on travel insurance

  1. Use a comparison website to get a quick idea of prices. These sites are a great way to compare the main benefits and standard excess of several policies at the same time.
  2. Remember that policy premiums are calculated based on age. That means purchasing a policy before the traveller’s next birthday can make a difference!
  3. When you’ve found a policy that looks good, see if the insurer offers any senior discounts or loyalty discounts for regular travellers. It never hurts to ask!
  4. Sign up to the company’s newsletter or mailing list to be the first to know when they have a sale or special promotion. Some companies also offer an immediate discount or voucher just for signing up!
  5. If your client is taking several trips, consider whether a Multi-Trip or Annual policy might be a cheaper option for them. Otherwise, the insurer may offer a discount if you purchase the policies at the same time.

Remember, no travel insurance is the same, so it’s always best to remind your clients to read the Product Disclosure Statement themselves to check if the policy covers their needs.

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