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Travel Insurance for Seniors

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A lighthouse on a beach

Retirement allows people to travel. Many seniors have waited and saved for years in preparation for overseas trips. Whether you’ve always longed to see the Tower of London or dreamt of boat tours down the Amazon, retirement finally offers the time to make such dreams reality.

Sudden and unexpected medical emergencies, however, can put an end to your travel plans. Getting seriously sick in a foreign country is both frightening and, quite frankly, expensive. Your normal medical insurance may not cover the cost of medical emergencies while travelling.

Travel insurance protects you against unexpected medical costs, giving you peace of mind when you travel. Finding the right coverage is important, so it’s important to give it serious consideration.

Is Travel Insurance Worth the Cost?

Some people claim that travel insurance isn’t worth the cost. After all, you can expect to pay between 5 to 15 percent of your trip cost on travel insurance you hopefully won’t need to use.

No hard rule exists for when you should buy travel insurance. You can probably get away without travel insurance for a one-week trip to Toronto. On the other hand, if you’re planning a month-long excursion to India, travel insurance is much more important.

Types of Travel Insurance

Travel insurance comes in many different forms. Some policies only offer one type of protection, while others are more comprehensive. Just like choosing parts for Mustangs, choosing travel insurance works best when you know exactly what you need.

Travel insurance comes in five basic varieties:

  • Trip Cancellation Coverage allows travelers to recoup the cost of prepaid trips if health or other emergencies prevent you from travelling.
  • Emergency Medical Insurance covers the cost of medical care in geographic locations your regular health insurance does not cover.
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance pays the costs incurred if a medical emergency requires travelers be evacuated to another country. This form of insurance is especially important for seniors travelling to developing nations that lack advanced medical resources.
  • Baggage Loss and Theft Coverage allows you to recover the cost of your luggage if it goes missing.
  • 24-hour Assistance provides phone assistance that helps you locate doctors and emergency services in foreign countries. Phone assistance is most helpful if you don’t speak the local language.

Check Your Health Coverage before Traveling

Seniors are more likely to require emergency medical treatment while traveling than younger people. That’s a simple fact of aging. Even an apparently healthy senior can develop health problems while travelling.

Check your own medical insurance to see if the policy covers expenses incurred out-of-region or overseas. Without insurance, you’ll be expected to pay for medical costs upfront, which can come at a serious financial cost.

An emergency evacuation to a country with better medical facilities costs thousands of dollars. If you travel frequently, you might want to consider annual membership in an emergency evacuation program.

If your only medical coverage is Medicare or Medicaid, you definitely need travel insurance. Medicare only covers you for medical expenses within the United States. Take a day trip to Canada and wind up in the hospital? Medicare won’t cover the cost.

Trip Cancellation

Package tours, cruises, and similar planned trips often require travelers to prepay for trips. However, you may occasionally need to cancel a trip because of illness, severe weather, or civil unrest in your planned destination.

Cancellation penalties for prepaid trips are expensive. Compare how much the cancellation fee costs with the price of trip cancellation insurance. Often the insurance proves to be the cheaper option.

Looking for Insurance

Unfortunately, seniors can expect to pay high rates for travel insurance. As people age, the cost of medical insurance invariably rises. Pre-existing medical conditions raise the cost of travel insurance even higher. If you’re a frequent traveler, annual membership in a travel insurance policy may be cheaper than paying for individual coverage for every trip.

Get several quotes from insurance companies, and compare their benefits and costs carefully. Read the entire policy, including the all-important and eye-straining fine print. You need to know exactly what the policy covers and how much you’ll pay in deductions. Don’t purchase the policy until you’re sure it provides the coverage you need.

You may have difficulty finding companies offering travel insurance to seniors. If so, seniors’ advocacy groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) may be able to help because it offers discounted travel insurance to seniors.

Finalize your travel plans before purchasing insurance. Changes to your itinerary after buying insurance could bump up your coverage costs.

While finding the right travel insurance can be difficult, the results are well worth the effort. Seniors can travel with the assurance that they’re protected from unexpected medical expenses.

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