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Travel insurance options for seniors

I am approaching 80 and my credit card travel insurance will no longer apply. I have done some research but the whole thing seems to be a bit of a minefield, so any hints you can give would be welcome. I do not need cancellation or lost luggage insurance as I am happy to carry that myself, so really only want medical insurance.
– Des Cain

I’ve had a few insurance-related questions over the past year and it does seem to get more complicated as you get older, especially if there are pre-existing conditions to factor in.

I asked my contact at Compare Travel Insurance for some tips and she responded with plenty of useful information. Here’s what she had to say:

“Today’s seniors are active and keen to travel and the industry has responded in turn.

While a few companies do not cover travellers over the age of 70, there are still plenty of options available for seniors. Travel insurers such as Countdown, TINZ and Southern Cross Travel Insurance will insure travellers of any age, while NZ Travel Insurance will cover those under 100. Others, such as Columbus Direct, Covermore and State Travel Insurance will cover travellers under 85.

“In terms of cost, travel insurance does tend to increase in price the older you get. So even if you are fitter than most and see yourself as a young-at-heart traveller, you will find that your travel insurance quotes are higher than younger holidaymakers. However, this added cost can pale in comparison to the huge cost of medical expenses abroad.
“Those looking for a reasonably priced policy may also benefit from a comparison site.

Using an online aggregator can allow you to view some of the best travel insurance deals on the market minus the legwork.


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“Pre-existing conditions can be a concern for senior travellers, however it’s essential that you declare these to your insurer, as failing to do so could potentially invalidate your entire policy. A pre-existing medical condition can be broadly defined as an illness or injury you have had symptoms of, or received medical treatment for in the past six months (or as far back as 20 years)! That timeframe can vary so check with your insurer beforehand and discuss any queries you may have surrounding your condition.

“It’s important to note that disclosing your pre-existing condition won’t necessarily hike up the price of your policy.

“Rather, providing your insurer with a thorough health evaluation can help you access the best possible medical assistance should you require it. In the worst case scenario, not disclosing your condition(s) can hinder your treatment and see you liable for significant medical costs.

“Another one to watch out for is cruise cover. If you’re planning to hop on board, picking the correct destination is essential when buying travel insurance.

“Many people don’t realise that once your cruise ship has left port, you are no longer covered for hospital or medical expenses by the ACC or your usual private health care provider. Even if you’re just cruising around New Zealand, make sure you purchase a Pacific policy so you’re protected on board.

“Lastly, watch out for the excesses and any benefit limits that apply.

“Insurers will often increase the excess payable on medical claims for senior travellers. So, it’s a good idea to understand how much you’d need to pay if you ended up in hospital to avoid any nasty surprises at claim time.

“A standard excess of around $100-$200 is often increased to $2000-$3000 for travellers 80 years and over (for claims that relate to injury or illness). The standard excess generally remains unchanged for non-medical events, such as lost luggage.”

Hopefully this information can help you make an informed decision – travel insurance can be a pretty confusing business at the best of times.

If older travellers have companies they’d like to recommend to Des, feel free to email in.

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