How to save money on travel insurance if you’re over 60
How to save money on travel insurance if you’re over 60

Dave Dzurick likes to play it safe when he travels, so he looks into travel insurance. But recently he noticed that policies have gone up in price.

“Every year after 60 seems to increase travel insurance rates,” says Dzurick, a retired broadcast engineer from Tucson, Arizona.

It’s not just his imagination.

“It’s age on a crucial underwriting factor in determining the risk of travel cancellation and medical assistance for the insurance provider,” explains John Rose, ALTOUR’s Chief Risk and Security Officer.

Age is more important than ever in travel insurance

You’d expect something like age-based pricing to be a constant in the travel insurance industry, but it doesn’t have to be. Some group travel insurance policies do not take age into account. But the shift is underway.

Last year, when Travelex Insurance Services launched its new line of travel protection plans, it touted one improvement: competitive age-group pricing that bases its rates on each traveler’s level of risk.

“We’re meeting the coverage and benefits our partners and travelers want,” notes Brooke Kirby, vice president of marketing for Travelex.

In other words, the rate you pay for travel insurance will be more closely tailored to your age than ever before. This is good news if you’re young. But if you’re over 60, it can be a challenge.

What is age group pricing for travel insurance?

Rhonda Abedsalam, vice president of travel insurance at AXA Partners US, says age group pricing is a mechanism designed to align prices with the real risks associated with each age group.

“It provides a fair and balanced approach to travel insurance,” she says.

Specifically, this method offers younger travelers access to more affordable options, preventing them from shouldering the burden of a one-size-fits-all pricing strategy. She says older travelers looking for lower prices can opt for plans that offer minimum coverage for a cost-effective solution.

“We always advocate choosing a plan that balances affordability with comprehensive coverage,” she says.

This is a position with which the American Travel Insurance Association (USTIA) agrees. When I asked about pricing by age group, a representative advised me that it’s important to understand the plan you’re buying—what is and isn’t covered—and the level of medical expenses and medical evacuation limits offered.

“Never buy based on price alone,” says Robert Gallagher, president of USTIA.

Your travel insurance rates may vary

Pricing travel insurance based on age makes sense, experts say.

“There is a higher risk of claims, mainly due to health concerns,” explains PK Rao, CEO of INF Visitor Care.

How much more expensive? Consider medical insurance. A 65-year-old US citizen, for example, might pay $9 a day for international travel insurance with a coverage limit of $1 million. On the other hand, an 85-year-old American could pay $31 a day for the same insurance policy, according to Joe Cronin, CEO of International Citizens Insurance.

“Fortunately, there are more affordable options for more budget-conscious seniors,” he says.

How to lower your travel insurance rates if you’re over 60

“The easiest way to cut costs is to do it with Benjamin Button and get younger,” jokes Michal Wichorek, Global Customer Relations and Intelligence Specialist at Insured Nomads.

Seriously, though, he says choosing higher deductibles and lower medical maximums can lower your insurance costs. He says some insurers specialize in benefits for older passengers, but warns buyers to be careful.

“Read the fine print because some benefits may be reduced or eliminated above certain ages, especially things like accidental death and dismemberment and evacuation benefits,” he adds.

There’s a difference between retail travel insurance and group insurance, adds Dan Skilken, president of Tripinsurance.com.

“Retail travel insurance policies are price sensitive based on age, cost of trip and length of trip,” he says. “Commercial policies sold through cruise or major travel companies are generally not rated based on age.”

In other words, sometimes older travelers can get a better price through the cruise line or tour operator for travel insurance. But here again, buyers need to be careful, he adds, as some of these policies may not have basic coverage.

How one customer saved money on travel insurance after the age of 60

Dzurick says he’s not deterred by the higher fares because he knows the value of travel insurance.

“For me, one way to save on travel insurance is to get a separate medical traveler that only covers the essentials,” he says.

A bare-bones policy would only cover essentials such as medical care while abroad and emergency evacuation, but would leave out some of the other features of travel insurance such as cover for lost luggage or trip interruption.

There is another method that Dzurik likes. He checks with the insurance provided by the employer to see if it will offer coverage.

“My former employer recently changed their pensioner insurance plans and it turned out that the new policy provided worldwide coverage,” he says. “So there’s no need for extra coverage.”

Some travel insurance companies offer reduced cover for older travellers. For example, INF has policy maximums of up to $250,000 for policyholders who are over the age of 70 to ease travelers’ concerns.

“You can also take a fixed benefit option, which offers lower payouts but still has evacuation benefits,” notes Rao.

Cronin says there are budget options for American seniors traveling outside the US. He likes Trawick Safe Travels USA Comprehensive Insurance and Atlas Travel Medical, both of which offer affordable options for seniors traveling to the US

Another travel insurance hack: the dual policy option

Another way to get affordable coverage with a decently high policy maximum if you’ve outgrown the coverage you prefer is to buy two travel medical insurance plans, according to James Nuttall, general manager of Insubuy.

“Each plan is considered secondary to the other, and they can share the burden for claims involving large medical expenses,” he explains.

For example, a plan offering $250,000 worth of coverage may not be in the budget for your age group. But two plans, each offering $100,000 worth of coverage, might be.

“Just keep in mind that each plan must be from a different insurance company,” he adds. “You can’t just buy two identical plans.”

Pro tip: If you decide to go this route, work with an experienced travel advisor who knows how two insurance policies would work together.

Other ways to save money on travel insurance if you’re over 60

There are other ways to save money, according to Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Partners USA.

Consider annual travel insurance

Buying annual travel insurance can be a smart choice for those who have more than three trips planned in a year, Durazo says. Unlike a single trip plan, an annual plan protects all your trips over a 365-day period, which can save you money instead of insuring each trip individually. Annual policies are sometimes offered at a fixed rate, meaning your costs may not increase with age and travel costs.

Buy a plan that includes more

For example, some travel insurances include children at no extra charge. This includes Allianz’s OneTrip Prime and OneTrip Premier, both of which cover children up to the age of 17 when traveling with a parent or grandparent.

Focus on trip cancellation benefits for US travel

Durazo says trip cancellation benefits can cover the cost of canceling your trip if you encounter a situation covered by your policy. These benefits can reimburse you for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses if you have to cancel your trip at the last minute for a covered reason. These are among the most commonly used travel benefits in the US (often medical expenses are covered by your health insurance plan).

Get a post-departure benefits plan if you’re going abroad

Post-departure benefits can appear as soon as you start your trip. These can include coverage for travel delays, baggage loss or damage, and baggage delays, according to Durazo. It may also include emergency medical and emergency transport benefits, which are highly recommended for overseas travel.

Pricing by age group is more common than ever in travel insurance. If you’re headed somewhere this summer, make sure you know all your options before buying a policy.

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