When you're a senior, buying travel insurance involves additional considerations because, at 65 or older, you may well be likely less healthy than the average traveler. In addition to reimbursement in the event a trip is interrupted or has to be canceled, be sure that you only choose a plan that covers additional risks, including medical emergencies. (For more, see The Basics of Travel Insurance.)

Senior Travel Insurance Coverage You Need

If you are a traveling senior, your insurance should include the following:

  • Trip Cancellation In addition to your trip being canceled through no fault of your own, other events particular to you and your situation could leave you financially and medically vulnerable.
  • Stolen Luggage or Belongings Your luggage may contain medicines and other valuable items besides clothing. All personal items should be covered as part of your travel insurance.
  • Preexisting Condition If you have a serious preexisting medical condition, you may need to purchase a waiver. Otherwise, your travel insurance may not provide coverage.
  • Medical Emergency Seniors are more subject to medical emergencies than younger travelers. You need to have full medical coverage, including transportation in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Medical Evacuation Medical coverage does not necessarily also mean evacuation in the event you want or need more-specialized care. Evacuation coverage takes care of that problem and also provides transportation, if needed, to get you back home.
  • Travel Advice/Emergency Assistance Senior travelers often need help or advice, including communication in a foreign language. Your travel insurance should provide this assistance easily through a toll-free phone call.

Focus on the Fine Print

Read the policy carefully. Many policies, for example, require you to purchase the coverage at least 10 to 14 days before you travel. Check to make sure that there is a free look period with an option to cancel and receive a refund. Other fine print items to look for include:

  • Exceptions No insurance policy covers everything. Any listed exception will not be covered unless your policy offers a “cancel for any reason” rider (at additional cost).
  • Exclusions Slightly different from exceptions, an exclusion restricts coverage in certain situations. Typical exclusions include things such as self-inflicted injury, racing, bungee cord jumping, or loss due to intoxication or committing a criminal act.
  • Incomplete Documentation If you do have to file a claim, make sure the documentation is complete. Failure to do so could delay or even cancel your coverage.

Use an Online Broker

According to Consumer Reports, it is better to research or purchase travel insurance from an online broker than from a travel agent or booking site. The reason is simple: You can compare plans with a broker and choose one or several that fit your needs.

You can use the broker to conduct a search and buy or, as CR suggests, to identify one or more insurers to personally contact and explore more fully. This includes speaking with a sales rep, requesting a sample policy and asking questions about coverage that matters to you.

Brokers to Consider

Here are four of the most popular online brokers:

  • InsureMyTrip On this website you can compare hundreds of policies from 29 carriers.
  • TripInsuranceStore This one offers side-by-side comparisons of policies from nine different insurers.
  • QuoteWrightLike most brokers, Quotewright vets insurance companies before listing them, providing an additional layer of trust for travelers. The site’s list includes 12 insurance companies.
  • Squaremouth One hundred and twelve policies from 21 providers are available for sale at Squaremouth. The site also offers thousands of reviews from actual customers who have used it and purchased insurance from one or more of the listed companies.

Top Insurers

Whether you use an online broker or not, here are three companies with consistently high ratings for their senior travel insurance offerings.

  • Travel Guard Travel Insurance With Travel Guard, trip cancellation coverage comes standard. Coverage is available for preexisting conditions and full medical plans are also available. The My Travel Guard feature lets you build your own plan, tailored to your individual needs. The underwriter for Travel Guard is National Union Fire Insurance Company, which has an AM Best rating of A (excellent). The company also has a BBB rating of A.
  • Travelsafe Travel Insurance Underwritten by Stonebridge Casualty Insurance Company, which has an AM Best rating of A- (Excellent), Travelsafe has full featured plans at three levels (basic, classic and classic plus). All plans offer both trip and medical coverage with a full menu of options. This insurer has a BBB rating of A+.
  • Allianz Travel Insurance Allianz provides coverage for domestic and international travel, including cruises. Coverage options include medical emergencies, trip cancellation, lost baggage, rental cars and change fees. The company offers four levels of coverage (essential, basic, classic and classic with trip). Classic and classic with trip coverage both have medical components. The underwriter for Allianz is BCS Insurance Company and Jefferson Insurance Company. BCS has an underwriters rating of A-. Jefferson’s AM Best rating is A. Allianz has a BBB rating of A+.

The Bottom Line

Travel insurance typically runs anywhere from 5% to 8% of the cost of your trip. If you are traveling abroad, you should know that Medicare does not provide coverage outside the U.S. except in limited circumstances. When shopping for travel insurance, it’s best to use an online broker. You can use the broker to find and purchase insurance or to provide you with a list of insurers to check out on your own. (For more, see Adventure Vacations for Newly Retired Seniors.)

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