Travel insurance for pensioners and seniors

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If you’re a senior planning to travel abroad, you need to arrange comprehensive travel insurance with full health care cover before you embark on your journey.

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The older we get, the more likely we are to have serious health conditions and the more vulnerable we are to illness or injury - and this of course now includes vulnerability to Covid-19.

Taking out specialist travel insurance for senior citizens means you’re more likely to get the extra cover you need at the best price possible, leaving you to kick back, relax and enjoy your holiday knowing you’re fully covered for any unfortunate eventuality.

How old are seniors?

Typically, anyone aged 60 or more can be classed as a ‘senior’ in the UK for holiday insurance purposes.

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What medical conditions do I need to declare for OAP holiday insurance?

Although what you need to disclose will vary between insurers, the many pre-existing medical conditions and/or history you typically need to declare for senior travel insurance quotes are:

  • Cancers such as:
    • lung, breast, liver, pancreatic, prostate, colorectal or kidney cancer
    • leukaemia
    • lymphoma
    • myeloma
  • Circulatory conditions or cardiovascular diseases (heart conditions) such as:
    • high blood pressure
    • high cholesterol
    • trial fibrillation
    • hypertension
    • angina
    • congenital heart disease
    • Raynaud's phenomenon
    • peripheral arterial disease
    • coronary artery disease (and whether you’ve suffered from a heart attack, heart failure or a stroke)
    • vascular dementia
  • Internal organ diseases such as:
    • liver disease (cirrhosis)
    • chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Respiratory problems or lung diseases such as:
    • asthma
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • emphysema
    • cystic fibrosis
  • Metabolic disorders and diseases such as:
    • type 2 diabetes
    • gaucher’s disease
    • hemochromatosis
  • Neurological conditions such as:
    • epilepsy
    • Parkinson's disease
    • motor neurone disease
    • multiple sclerosis
    • ME
  • Joint and bone conditions such as:
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • osteoarthritis
    • osteoporosis
    • bone marrow disease
  • Gut health conditions such as:
    • irritable bowel disease
    • coeliac disease
    • crohn’s disease
    • ulcerative colitis
  • Mental health conditions such as:
    • post-traumatic stress disorder
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • personality disorders
    • bipolar disorder
    • schizophrenia
  • Pregnancy-related illness or complications such as:
    • high blood pressure
    • gestational diabetes
    • preeclampsia
    • amniotic fluid complications

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Why it pays to be honest with your insurer

When arranging travel insurance for pensioners, you MUST be completely honest and upfront by disclosing, in full, any recent or historical:

  • medical conditions, health issues or diagnoses
  • doctor and/or hospital appointments
  • medical treatments or prescriptions

If you fail to fully disclose absolutely everything your insurer requires notice of, your insurer could refuse to pay out should you need to make a claim.

This could have devastating consequences for you and your holiday companion/s. 

Repatriation costs for those needing specialist medical care abroad are unaffordable for many. This means you could be left stranded abroad with unaffordable medical fees (not all countries give access to free healthcare) plus a relative or friend who wants to stay abroad with you might be unable to afford accommodation and living costs.

You might like: How to get a refund on travel insurance due to Covid-19

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What does repatriation mean in travel insurance?

Repatriation (sometimes referred to as ‘evacuation’) forms part of the healthcare element of a travel insurance policy to cover the cost of you returning to the UK should you miss your return flight, train, cruise ship or any other type of prepaid return journey due to illness or injury.

More importantly, if you require specialist medical assistance and/or round-the-clock medical care that means you need to be flown home on a mediplane, travel insurance for elderly should cover this expense.

But, this will only be covered if you fully disclose your medical and health history to your insurer when arranging your policy and haven’t breached the terms and conditions of your policy in any way.

Specialist medical care repatriation costs can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds so make sure you’re covered for this by your policy.

You might like: Medical bills soar to more than £200m for British holidaymakers

Which countries provide free healthcare?

European countries with free healthcare

You will have access to free healthcare in almost all European countries by producing a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Prior to Brexit, this was an EHIC card which you are still able to use until it expires.

Different rules apply to non-EU countries Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. For example, some of these countries will require your Passport or another form of photographic ID instead of a GHIC.

European countries that can provide free urgent healthcare to all British nationals abroad (upon production of a GHIC card) are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Note: It’s completely free to apply for a GHIC card so ignore websites that offer this service for a fee. You can apply via the NHS, for free, instead.

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Worldwide non-EU countries with free healthcare

For countries outside of Europe, you will be able to access free urgent healthcare where the UK government has a ‘reciprocal healthcare agreement’ with that particular country.

International non-European countries that have a ‘reciprocal healthcare agreement’ with the UK government and where you can access free healthcare with a UK Passport or Driver’s Licence are:

  • Anguilla
  • Australia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Jersey
  • Kosovo
  • North Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • New Zealand
  • St Helena
  • Serbia
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

If the country you are travelling to is not listed above, you need to make sure your travel insurance covers healthcare costs as well as repatriation.

Even if the country you are travelling to is listed above, remember that you are only covered for urgent medical care in these countries. An EHIC card does not cover repatriation costs, nor will it cover the monitoring of pre-existing health conditions.

So regardless of whether or not you can get access to free healthcare, it’s sensible to get repatriation covered by your travel insurance, especially when you’re in your twilight years.

Also, in this post-pandemic world, you should make sure your policy covers cancellation or curtailment costs - curtailment is when you need to cut your holiday short due to an emergency.

You might like: Will travel insurance cover flight cancellation?

What type of travel insurance is best for seniors in the UK?

To get the best travel and healthcare cover, you should choose an insurer who specialises in age-related travel insurance and, if applicable, a policy that covers any pre-existing health conditions.

To make your life easier, below we’ve listed the typical types of age-related travel insurance policies where you can compare cheap senior life insurance quotes.

Travel insurance for over 60s

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Travel insurance for over 70s

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Travel insurance for over 75s

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Travel insurance for over 80

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When comparing quotes, remember to check that:

  • any pre-existing medical condition you may have is covered
  • repatriation costs are covered
  • cancellation or curtailment costs are covered
  • Covid-19 related illness or curtailment is covered
  • there’s no age limit
  • your vaccination status does not affect cover

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Most insurers will not provide cover if you travel to a country against the government’s latest ‘foreign travel advice’. So make sure you check the latest FCDO advice for the country/ies you’re travelling to just before your holiday and on the morning of the day that you travel.


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