(Photo credit: Søren Astrup Jørgensen via Unsplash.)
If you’ve been to our blog before, you know the basic reasons why you should get travel insurance. Benefits like travel medical insurance, emergency medical evacuation, trip cancellation, trip interruption, and the like are always a great idea, no matter your age.
But for senior citizens, these benefits can be especially important.
Getting older means more health risks. Older travelers are definitely young at heart, but sometimes their bodies don't want to play along.
That's not a reason not to travel; we just want you to be smart and safe while you’re at Shibuya Crossing.
Travel insurance is especially important for people on Medicare. Medicare coverage is only effective in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas. But what about the other 93 percent of the world?
Two words: travel insurance.
Choosing The Right Seniors Travel Insurance
The three factors to consider when you’re buying travel insurance are your general health, the activities you’ll be participating in, and the length of your trip. If you catch a cold any time you shake someone’s hand and you’re going to be in Brazil for a month zip-lining through the Amazon rainforest, look for a policy with the most travel health insurance coverage, as well as robust emergency-medical-evacuation coverage. If you’re healthy as a horse (a healthy horse, preferably) and you’re visiting Paris with the sole mission of poking around the Louvre's dusty corners, a cheaper policy with less health coverage might suffice.
It's all about matching your policy to your trip. A cheaper policy might save money, but if it doesn’t cover everything you need, and you get in a situation and aren’t covered, say goodbye to the money you thought you were saving.
The Specifics Of Senior Travel Insurance
Senior travelers need to read closely the parts of their policy dealing with the following:
- Pre-existing medical coverage: The No. 1 reason most seniors buy travel insurance is so they're protected if they have to cancel or interrupt their trip because of a pre-existing medical condition. You're not going to let your rheumatoid arthritis stop you from climbing the Great Fire Monument, but if it flares up while you’re traveling, you need to be able to go to a doctor and be covered. Not all pre-existing-condition provisions are created equal. Choose one that doesn't exclude certain categories of conditions, put unusual time parameters on coverage, or require an extreme amount of substantiation. In general with pre-existing-condition waivers, simpler is way better.
- Medical emergency and evacuation: How far is it from the zipline camp to a doctor and hospital? And how would you pay for that helicopter ride if you didn’t have travel insurance? What goes for pre-existing conditions applies to medical evacuations: The simpler the better. If a policy has a laundry list of exclusions for where you'll be evacuated to and under what circumstances, you're justified in asking what specific situations qualify you for evacuation. The one exception to simpler-is-better: If you really like a specific medical facility, choose a policy that lets you be evacuated to a "hospital of choice." You'll generally pay more for hospital-of-choice coverage, but if it's important to you it's worth it.
- Trip cancellation: You’ve booked a cruise that’s going to take you along the Central American coast, then a day before departure your brother dies. That’s what trip cancellation is for. Most seniors are committed to their travels and wouldn't miss their bus tour of Tuscany for anything, but if you're the least bit uncertain about the weather or Zika or anything in between, you may want to opt for cancel-for-any-reason coverage. You'll pay quite a bit more for this coverage, and you'll usually only get back half of your trip cost, so use it judiciously.
- Lost baggage: You’re waiting at baggage claim for your luggage, and even though you’ve heard the advice of keeping your medication in your carry-on, you stuck it in your checked luggage. Getting reimbursed for your lost baggage would help with paying for new medication. If you plan on checking your minks and jewels, be aware: Most baggage coverage has a per-item limit – usually $500, but occasionally $1,000. With really valuable valuables, your best option is to take out a rider through your homeowner's policy before you travel to make sure they're adequately covered.
- Travel assistance: The hotel concierge said to take a right at the mural, except there are murals on every other building. Hellooo, travel assistance. Call them up, tell them what street corner you’re on, and they’ll give you directions to your destination.
If you’re wondering when to purchase your travel insurance, do it as soon as you know all your trip details, since some parts of your policy might have deadlines in order for you to receive those benefits. With BHTP’s ExactCare® plans, pre-existing medical conditions are covered as long as the policy is purchased within 15 days after your initial trip deposit.
Spending your retirement traveling is a risk worth taking, but not being covered isn’t.
Please visit our Disclaimer page for underwriter info. Policies have exclusions and limitations. For complete details of coverage, contact BHTP by calling 844-411-2487, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.