When you turn 65, travel insurance premiums can go through the roof. We take a look at how to keep costs down.
Have you hit state pension age recently? To counterbalance the bonuses - a free bus pass and a little extra cash to play with - you’ll probably have noticed a hike in your travel insurance rates. When you’re still super-fit and planning international expeditions with as much zest as you did in your 20s, seeing your premium soar can be frustrating. So what’s behind the rising rates, and what can you do to combat them?
Why the higher prices?
As a populace, we might be living longer and staying healthier well into our 70s and beyond - but despite increased longevity, older travellers are still a higher risk for insurance companies. Figures released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that people between the ages of 61 and 65 are twice as likely to make a claim on their travel cover than those between 31 and 35. That figure rises through the age groups, with travellers in their late 70s twice as likely to claim as those in their early 50s. And the claims they make are generally related to medical problems, which are far more expensive to cover than stolen cash or lost luggage.
“Over 90% of the cost of travel insurance goes into paying for medical expenses,” explains Jim Krawiecki, the BMC’s insurance specialist. “The increased premium for older travellers is driven by the increased cost in medical claims. People of all ages get illnesses such as chest infections and food poisoning, or have accidents that land them in hospital. Younger people tend to recover quickly. However, medical teams will take a different approach when treating older travellers. Additional precautions and medical tests all add up to increased costs.”
Beating the price hikes
There’s no fighting the statistics, but there are a few steps you can take to bring your premium down. Firstly, consider your destination carefully. For trips to countries where medical care is more expensive - the US, for example, where a night in intensive care can cost up to £6,000 - insurers will increase prices correspondingly. European destinations are generally cheaper, so if you can’t stretch to Denali this year then it could be worth considering an excursion to the Alps instead.
Don’t be tempted to conceal ongoing treatment, doctors’ visits or referrals. It’s better to have a higher premium than fall ill abroad and realise that your expenses aren’t covered.
Good organisation will also pay off. Get quotes for your trip a while before you fly, and research insurers who specialise in providing cover to older travellers. The BMC, for example, is in a position to offer excellent rates partly because its older members are proven to be less expensive than most travellers of the same age.
“The claims experience has shown that the BMC’s older travellers tend to be fitter and healthier than the average,” says Jim.
Insuring with the BMC
Without wanting to blow our own trumpet (oh, alright, maybe just a little bit), the BMC offers great deals to travellers aged 65 plus - particularly for European travel.
“In January 2015, the BMC managed to remove the additional premium for the 65-69 age group for BMC Travel Insurance policies issued for travel in Europe,” adds Jim. “For worldwide trips, the BMC keeps the rates competitive by regularly checking the general travel insurance market and comparing other policies and rates.”
Low rates are encouraging even members who have previously insured with other organisations to return to the BMC after the age of 65.
“You will be happy to know that I have just come back into the fold of the BMC insurance cover,” says one 66-year-old member. “Last year I went and insured elsewhere because it was over £100 cheaper. This year the annual renewal with Snowcard was £269 and BMC Alpine and Ski £182!”
As well as competitive premiums, older travellers will benefit from other pros associated with a policy targeted purely at mountain folk. These include tailored cover, a 24-hour emergency assistance helpline and the knowledge that all profits raised are ploughed back into good causes.
For older climbers and mountaineers, it’s the obvious choice.
WATCH: Sir Chris Bonington climb the Old Man of Hoy at 80 on BMC TV
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