Why it's more difficult to get travel insurance as you age

As you age, purchasing travel insurance gets more and more difficult. At 50, travelers may face daunting medical forms; at 60, travel insurance premiums can double – and even triple.

Insurance providers are in the business of assessing risk and, for them, older travelers are riskier to insure. They’re statistically more likely to fall ill or experience an accident, and they’re also more likely to require a long hospital stay. When you consider that foreign hospitals sometimes charge up to $20,000 per day, it’s little wonder premiums can spike after a certain age.

It can be confusing and frustrating to navigate the world of travel insurance if you’re over 50, but there are a few things to note when shopping for the best rates:

Age Matters

Your travel insurance premiums rely on four major factors: the cost of your trip, how much coverage you need, your health, and your age. Though you can’t do much about this last factor, you can work the system to your advantage.

Insurance providers set rates for age ranges, not specific ages. If your travel insurance premium spikes at age 60, you’re unlikely to see it spike again due to age until you hit 65. As long as you’re within the same age bracket and you remain in good health, your travel insurance shouldn’t increase in price.

As you move from one age bracket to the next with your current insurance provider, your premium will spike – but it may not spike across the board. Different insurance companies have different age brackets, so comparing rates is definitely a good starting point. Don’t be afraid to switch up your travel insurance if another company can offer you a better rate.

Health Helps

To assess clients over age 50, many insurance companies require clients to fill out extensive medical forms -- some even require a doctor's signature. It’s smart to ask your doctor for help even if it’s not required. These forms can be complicated and they need to match your medical records should your insurance provider investigate a claim. If it’s found you’ve misled them, intentionally or unintentionally, they may have grounds to deny your claims.

Once you’ve purchased travel insurance, you’re on the hook for keeping your insurers in the loop. Any medical issues that occur prior to your trip should be reported to your insurance. Though additional medical conditions risk raising your premiums, withholding this information from your insurer can also give them grounds to deny your claims.

If you do have a pre-existing condition, travel insurance becomes much more expensive. Depending on the ailment, a pre-existing condition can increase your travel insurance premium from 50%-1000%.

Insurers prefer clients with stable pre-existing conditions and set premiums based on how many days you’ve been problem-free. If your condition changes prior to your trip, honesty is the best policy. The last thing you need is to have claims denied while you’re away.

Ways to Save

Your travel insurance will get more expensive as you age -- significantly so if you’ve already got issues with your health; nevertheless, there are ways to save on travel insurance for travelers over 50.

Every policy is a little different, so it can sometimes be tough to compare travel insurance policies. Emergency medical and evacuation insurance become non-negotiable as you age, but you may consider downgrading other aspects of your policy to keep your premium low. If you’re driving or staying with friends, consider nixing your baggage insurance and trip cancellation insurance.

If you’re going on an extended trip outside the country but plan to return at least once, multi-trip policies may be a good choice. Multi-trip travel insurance is often far less expensive than paying for an extended stay, though these policies sometimes come with prohibitive upper age limits.

You may also decide to raise the deductible on your coverage to avoid paying an exorbitant premium. The more you’re willing to cover on a claim, the lower your premium will be. If you do opt for a higher deductible, think carefully about the reality of actually paying it in full. In the end, it may be worth it to pay a higher premium for a lower deductible on your policy.

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