While travel insurance is more important for all travelers now due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it is especially important for senior citizens. Baby boomers and members of the silent generation generally have more health issues than younger travelers and may be more susceptible to illness simply due to age. In addition, destination countries are beginning to require that visitors provide proof of travel insurance so that their healthcare systems won’t bear the burden of providing medical treatment to tourists.
Older travelers tend to take longer, more expensive trips, which leaves them at risk of losing a lot of money if their around-the-world cruise or bucket-list trip to Bali is canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even during non-COVID times, the CDC and the U.S. Department of State recommend that Americans of all ages consider buying travel insurance for their safety at home and abroad.
Let’s take a look at each of these points individually and see what they mean for senior citizens, who are planning post-pandemic trips in greater numbers than any other age category right now:
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has caused travelers to reconsider the importance of insuring their trips. At the beginning of the pandemic, as airports were shut down, cruises were canceled, and road trips were rescheduled, many travelers lost money they spent on trips to visit friends and family, see the Seven Wonders of the World, or simply relax on a beach. Even with a comprehensive travel insurance policy, many of these costs wouldn’t previously have been reimbursed by insurers if they were pandemic-related. Luckily, coverage has changed for the better and many of the leading travel insurance companies now offer pandemic protection as a named peril. Since the end of the pandemic is still in the (hopefully not-so-distant) future, an insurance policy with COVID-19 as a named peril is important for senior citizens who are in the highest risk category for contracting the virus and experiencing severe symptoms, even if they are vaccinated. When quoting and buying travel insurance on TravelInsurance.com, look for the “COVID-19 FAQs” link next to each plan and click on it to view the coverage provided for COVID-19.
Aside from COVID-19, chronic conditions such as heart ailments, diabetes, and high blood pressure may need to be treated while you are out of town. If you are traveling in the United States, that may not be a problem from a health insurance perspective. But if you are traveling overseas, your private health insurance will typically not be accepted or cover your medical expenses. The same is true for Medicare. Medicare only covers your health care expenses in very specific circumstances if you are traveling outside of the United States and its territories. Industry experts recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy that includes at least $100,000 of medical emergency coverage and $500,000 of medical evacuation coverage. Medical evacuation coverage is absolutely essential if you are going on a cruise or will be visiting a remote location.
It is also important for seniors to make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered by their travel insurance policies. Most travel insurance policies do not automatically cover pre-existing medical conditions. Given that, a pre-existing condition exclusion waiver is critical for seniors. Without this type of waiver, the insurance company might have the ability to deny your claim for any necessary medical treatment you receive while on vacation. Any exclusion waivers like those for pre-existing conditions must be added to your policy within a certain number of days after your trip purchase.
Before the pandemic, there were only a few countries that required tourists to have travel insurance. An increasing number of countries are making this a requirement now so they will not get stuck covering the cost of medical care (pandemic-related or otherwise) for non-citizens.
Another reason that seniors need travel insurance even more than younger generations is that retirees (or those who are semi-retired) tend to travel more. Longer and more expensive trips put seniors without a travel insurance policy at greater financial risk. For seniors on a budget who take less expensive trips closer to home, travel insurance is still important and perhaps even more important since travelers on a fixed income typically cannot afford to lose the money they paid for a trip.
Whether you are a budget traveler or splurge on luxury vacations, a travel insurance policy typically costs between 4% and 8% of your trip. This amount does not usually include exclusion waivers or add-ons like CFAR (cancel for any reason) coverage. You will have to decide whether the “extras” make sense for you given your circumstances and how much financial risk you are willing to take. The AARP recommends that you calculate the minimum amount of insurance needed by adding up “all of your nonrefundable expenses for such things as airline tickets, cruise costs, tours, and prepaid excursions” and buying coverage in an amount equal to or greater than 100% of these expenses.
Seniors who take four or more trips every year might consider purchasing an annual plan instead of paying for separate travel insurance policies for each trip. An annual plan can appear cheaper than single trip plans and leaves open the possibility of taking spontaneous trips while still being covered. However, it is important to make sure you note the maximum time of coverage for each trip. Many annual travel insurance plans that limit the number of consecutive travel days for which you are covered and will also limit the amount of trip cancellation coverage per year. For this reason, we generally recommend single trip plans instead of annual plans.
If you are a senior thinking about purchasing travel insurance for the first time, it can seem overwhelming. How do you know what coverage you need? What is a “named peril” and an “exclusion waiver?” What happens if you develop a medical condition between now and the time you leave on your cruise? What if you have to cancel your trip? What if your luggage gets lost? How do you know which travel insurance companies are reliable?
Don’t worry! You can find answers to these and many more questions at TravelInsurance.com. Recently named as one of the “6 Best Travel Insurance Companies” by Money, TravelInsurance.com makes it easy to compare and buy travel insurance online. Instead of having the same conversation with each individual travel insurance company, you can enter your information once and receive multiple quotes in an easy-to-read format. The Travelinsurance.com comparison engine helps travelers find and compare plans from top-rated insurance companies like John Hancock, Travelex Insurance Services, AXA, and Generali Global Assistance. Best of all, plan prices are regulated by each state so you can shop and buy online with confidence knowing you are getting the guaranteed lowest price for any specific plan found on TravelInsurance.com.
Travelinsurance.com also has an online learning center with a glossary so you can look up any unfamiliar insurance-related terms, a guide to the basics of travel insurance with links to descriptions of all the different coverage types, a list of frequently asked questions, and travel articles and tips from industry experts. Phone and chat support are available for travelers wanting to find out more information, as is 24/7 emergency assistance for policyholders.
We are all excited to start booking travel again. Seniors should strongly consider buying travel insurance to make sure that their unique needs are covered when away from home.
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