Credit: Shutterstock

Travel insurance costs can double after 70 years old reveals new research

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Travel insurance costs can rocket after you turn 70, new research has revealed. The price of protection can double after this age no matter how healthy you are.

Travel insurance can get much more expensive as you enter your seventh decade even if you are in fine fettle.

An investigation by consumer watchdog Which? has revealed the most common barriers to getting affordable insurance.

Sixty-three Which? members shared the problems they had buying insurance over the past two years.

Travel insurance resulted in the biggest issues with 26 out of 63 reporting difficulties.

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Twenty-two of the group said medical conditions were most commonly identified as being the source of their problems while 21 said age was an obstacle.

Once customers pass 65, getting travel insurance for holidays can prove both more expensive and harder to find.

- READ MORE: Do you need special travel insurance for a cruise? -

In separate mystery shopping research on a major comparison website, Which? found that once a travel insurance customer reached 70, not only did they have fewer quotes to choose from, but the average of their cheapest five quotes nearly doubled, compared with what they were offered at the age of 65.

Posing as a 55-year-old travel insurance customer, Which? had 76 quotes to choose from, but this dropped to just seven quotes for an 80-year-old.

Holidays: Once customers pass 65, getting travel insurance for holidays can prove both more expensive. Credit: Shutterstock

The vast majority of travel insurance providers can cover medical conditions and often for a reasonable price.

However, severe or unpredictable conditions, such as heart disease or bipolar disorder, or an illness still in the process of being diagnosed, can send insurers running for the hills.

- READ MORE: Why doesn't travel insurance cover cruises? -

One Which? member said that declaring his wife’s irregular heartbeat results in "either a refusal to insure or astronomical premiums" for the couple’s annual worldwide cover – with one insurer quoting as much as £3,200.

Price was most commonly reported as the main issue when accessing cover (31 out of 63), though around a fifth (13) said their main barrier was that few or no insurers offered any cover at all.

Holidays: The vast majority of travel insurance providers can cover medical conditions and often for a reasonable price. Credit: Shutterstock

Meanwhile, around a sixth (10) said few or no insurers offered the cover they wanted.

So why does getting older make insurance more expensive? World of Cruising spoke to Neil Wright, managing director of award-winning travel insurance brands Cedar Tree and CoverForYou.

"As we get older we are more likely to need the services of a doctor or hospital," he explained.

"The largest claims in the travel insurance sector are for medical expenses incurred abroad. Those of us who are over 70 are more likely to incur a medical claim and this is the main reason why premiums are higher, they reflect the increased risk that underwriters face. This is no different to the increase in premiums that happen on Permanent Health policies as we age.

- READ MORE: How to book a cruise for the first time -

"Once a policy has been bought, clients are on risk for cancellation claims which can arise from being hospitalised, yet another reason for the increase in premiums.

"The logic used by underwriters is based on claims experience, an inverse look at this would be the fact that younger drivers have to pay higher premiums due to their claims experience.

"We, and our underwriters, are bound by ‘Treating the Customer Fairly’ rules. We do not profiteer from the older segment of our book. Indeed, there is an element of subsidy from younger travellers to help keep premiums down for older travellers.

Travel insurance: Some insurers exclude cruises unless a ‘cruise extension’ is added on. Credit: Shutterstock

Despite the difficulty of getting travel insurance, it is vital you do have cover when heading off on holiday.

Wright advised: "When choosing a travel insurer, you should look at reviews submitted by previous policyholders as this will give a picture of what sort of service you would receive.

"Plus, choose a policy that is rated either 4 or 5 star by a ratings agency. Cutting corners to save a few pounds is never a good option as medical costs abroad can be extortionate, especially in the USA."

If you're going on a cruise you will need to check your travel insurance policy to see if you're covered.

- READ MORE: How to save money when booking a cruise holiday -

Some insurers exclude cruises unless a ‘cruise extension’ is added on.

Wright commented: "The good news is, there are policies out there which automatically cover a cruise holiday, with set additional benefits, as part of ‘normal’ cover.

"Policies underwritten by AXA, for example, Cedar Tree and CoverForYou are comprehensive ones to try."

Cruise add-ons cover you for a variety of scenarios such as claims for unused excursions, missed port and confinement to cabin (this one will depend on the level of cover), as well as increased baggage allowance and single item cover.

Remember, you should buy your travel insurance at the time of booking your holiday so you are fully protected should anything go wrong ahead of your trip.

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