As we get older, some of our responsibilities ease up considerably. The next step of life can be full of adventure, which is why so many older Australians love to travel the world. Maybe you want to visit friends or family overseas, or perhaps you’re just long overdue to visit a dream destination.
So, what do Aussie seniors need to know about travelling the world, and how can they best protect themselves from surprise costs?
Travel insurance is one of the best ways you can cover your trip. With seniors travel insurance, you don’t have to worry if a flight is cancelled due to a storm and you need to pay last-minute hotel rates, or if you suffer an injury while sightseeing and require costly medical treatment.
Seniors travel insurance can safeguard travellers by covering overseas medical expenses, theft of belongings and more, depending on your cover. Travel insurance for seniors can insure those up to 100 years old and many policies cover pre-existing medical conditions, which may affect the premium. Check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for age limits and information regarding pre-existing medical conditions.
We’re quick to forget that Medicare offers a safety net for Australians to get emergency medical treatment no matter where we go in Australia. Such protection does not extend overseas; this is where your travel insurance could help you pay for those costs. While some countries provide Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) for Medicare cardholders, most countries don’t.
You can also insure your luggage, avoid excessive hire car excess payments and access delay and cancellation cover, among other things.
‘Can seniors over 80 even get travel insurance? What about those over 90?’ is usually an immediate concern for older travellers. It’s a reasonable concern, but you shouldn’t worry about not finding cover because of your age. There are travel insurers that will cover Australians up to the age of 100.
For seniors up to 100,, you can get basic, medium or comprehensive travel cover. You may only need basic insurance (coverage for medical expenses, and not much else), or maybe you’re prepared to spend a little bit extra to get covered for more such as theft of belongings, cancellation cover and even cruise related losses
However, you may find that age limits for cover will vary depending on if you’re seeking a policy for just one trip or seeking cover for many trips within a year You will also find that policies that provide annual cover for seniors are subject to maximum trip durations.
You never know what might happen on your travels, so it’s a good idea to find a policy with the following common inclusions:
Each policy may come with some exclusions. In fact, these exclusions can apply to any travel insurance policy, whether you’re a senior or not:
You’re obligated to disclose any pre-existing conditions to your insurer before you leave on your trip. Otherwise, your insurer may refuse to compensate you for any claim that’s related to your condition.
When you disclose your pre-existing conditions, your insurer can factor this into your policy (although potentially at an extra cost). A travel insurance policy covering your pre-existing conditions can be a huge relief for travellers.
You may need to pay a little bit more for travel insurance as you get older, comparative to what younger travellers are paying. However, insurers will have different rating factors, excess options and premiums. That means it becomes even more important to compare multiple policies so you can be confident in finding an affordable option for your trip away.
Some providers recognise that travelling families may consist of grandparents and grandkids, a parent and companion grandparent with kids, and so on.
Many of Compare the Market’s travel partners cover dependent children for no additional cost, and this includes grandkids travelling with their grandparents.The age limit of dependents, however, will likely vary depending on the provider, but some common limits are 18 or 25 years of age. Check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).
When preparing for your trip, you should check that your passport is still valid. The general rule is that your passport should be valid for six months after the date you plan to return to Australia.1 Smartraveller also suggests taking spare passport photos with you in case your passport is lost or stolen overseas.2 Also, make sure your passport is in good condition. Otherwise, there’s a chance you could be refused entry in certain countries.
During packing, it can be a good idea to photocopy your essential documents, like passports, visas, tickets and credit cards. Smartraveller recommends you keep one photocopy of these documents with you, leaving another at home with family or friends, and keep your copies in a different place than the originals.2
In case bags are lost during transit, Smartraveller suggests that you store your medication separate to your luggage, particularly if you’re travelling with a large amount of medication.3 When travelling with medication, you should also leave it in its original packaging, and have a letter from your doctor.
By carrying a lot of luggage or valuables, you may inadvertently make yourself a target for thieves, so try to carry as little as possible. Also, rather than using one single method of payment on your trip, use a mixture of methods like cash, credit cards or pre-paid travel cards.
That way, you can avoid losing all your money if you drop your credit card down the drain or your cash is pickpocketed.
Not a senior? Find travel cover more suited to you.
1 Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Passport validity and foreign visas. Sourced July 2021.
2 Smartraveller – Advice for mature and older travellers. Sourced July 2021.
3 Smartraveller – Medication and medical equipment. Sourced July 2021.