Matt Hands, VP, Insurance and MoneySense
Senior travel insurance is a specialized type of travel insurance plan, designed to meet the unique coverage needs of older individuals (e.g. 55 years old and above). Like standard plans, these policies can help pay for various emergency medical expenses while travelling, such as hospitalization fees, physician services, prescription drugs, and more. Plus, coverage to protect against trip cancellation or trip interruption can also be added. However, senior travel insurance takes into account the unique vulnerabilities associated with factors – such as age, health status, and extended trip durations – to ensure that older travellers are adequately protected during their time away.
As a senior, there are many different travel insurance plans you can choose from. Here, we cover three common types of policies, so you can select the one that best meets your coverage needs. Keep in mind that your options may differ depending on the provider you choose, so be sure to seek out assistance from an insurance representative if needed.
What is snowbird travel insurance for seniors?
Some travel insurance providers offer specialized policies for snowbirds – these plans are designed specifically for those that go away during the winter season, accounting for risks that come with an extended trip duration.
Travel medical insurance is arguably the most important type of coverage you'll need as a senior. These policies cover you for a wide range of medical-related expenses in the event of an emergency. Here, we cover a few common coverages that most policies for seniors include – but as always, be sure to read your terms and conditions carefully as policy features may differ from insurer to insurer.
If you end up in the hospital while you're on your trip, travel medical insurance can cover related expenses – physician fees, room occupancy, and more.
Travel medical insurance can cover the cost of an ambulance. And it may also pay for transporation to the nearest appropriate medical facility, if none are localized.
Travel medical insurance can help cover various diagnostic services that you no longer have health coverage for – MRI scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, and more.
If you need to fill a prescription while you're away from home – which your regular health insurance won't cover – your travel medical insurance can step in.
Emergency dental care
Travel insurance can help pay for dental care needs – but it'll need to be emergent. You won't be able to claim a regualar teeth cleaning session.
Emergency transportation home
Aside from ambulance services, travel insurance can help cover an emergent return home or pay for a companion to fly out to your bedside.
Yes, it's possible to secure travel insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, but availability and coverage terms may differ from provider to provider. Travel insurance quotes are generally calculated for healthy individuals, so expect to pay higher rates if your health status isn't the best.
It's important to disclose your pre-existing condition ahead of time. Many travel insurance companies will require you to complete some form of a medical questionnaire once you reach an older age. Make sure you're completing this with accuracy – the last thing you want is for a claim to be denied while you're in need of a payout abroad.
Also, note that many travel insurance plans which cover those with pre-existing conditions will require the condition to be stable for a set period of time (e.g. 90 days). If there are changes to your condition during this time, travel claims related to the health issue may be limited.
Speak to an insurance representative for more details on coverage options while you're travelling with a pre-existing condition. Every insurer and every policy is different, so it's important to do your research in order to select the most suitable option for your needs.
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Trip cancellation insurance
Trip interruption insurance
Baggage & personal effects insurance
Some travel insurance providers offer their standard travel insurance plans to seniors while others may provide specialized plans that cater to unique coverage needs. Here, we cover the main differences between a senior travel insurance policy and a regular one.
The cost of senior travel insurance can vary greatly – generally speaking, the more risk you and your trip bring, the more it'll cost to insure. For reference, here are three sample quotes we pulled from top travel insurance providers in Canada. Each number is representative of an all-inclusive plan which includes emergency medical, trip interruption, and trip cancellation coverage.
1-week trip to Banff, Canada
for two seniors, 65 years old ($3,000 trip cost)
2-week trip to Paris, France
for two seniors, 68 years old ($10,000 trip cost)
1-month trip to Cancun, Mexico
for one senior, 73 years old ($7,000 trip cost)
There are various factors that contribute to the cost of your insurance. Here, we cover six main ones, so you can better understand how insurers calculate your risk level as a travelling senior.
As a senior, your age can pose a risk to insurers. So the older you are, the more expensive your premium will be.
If you have a pre-existing condition, you may be subject to higher travel insurance rates due to the added risk you bring.
Travelling to high-risk places for incidents such as crime and illness can increase the cost of your insurance.
Expensive trips come with expensive insurance – this is especially the case for trip cancellation and interruption coverage.
It's no surprise that longer trips come with a higher possibility of an emergency – so expect to pay higher insurance rates.
All-inclusive plans inevitably cost more than basic medical plans. And higher coverage limits don't come without an added cost.
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Why should seniors consider travel insurance?
Since Canada's healthcare system is publicly funded by taxes, many Canadians don't directly see how expensive doctor appointments, emergency care, surgeries, and other procedures can be. The cost of medical care and hospital stays in the United States as well as in other countries is high, especially for foreign visitors.
If anything is covered at all, Canada's provincial and territorial health plans may only pay for a small portion of out-of-country costs. It's a tiny slice of the steep fees you could potentially be charged when seeking medical help abroad, especially in cases of serious illness, accident, or injury. That's why travel insurance is important for seniors who may have more health issues than younger travellers, as well as snowbirds who reside in a foreign country for months at a time.
Do seniors need special travel insurance?
As a senior, snowbird, or both, getting the right travel insurance coverage is something to seriously consider. While you're away from home – and especially if you leave the country – you're exposed to many different financial risks. Global Affairs Canada reminds travellers that your Canadian public health insurance is almost never valid outside of the country, foreign hospitals can be quite costly, and the government won't cover bills for accidents and illnesses abroad.
Some companies offer special travel insurance for seniors while others may offer regular plans, without a limit to the insured's age. Just be sure that the policy you select caters to your unique needs – such as coverage for pre-existing conditions.
If you're a snowbird, you may need to find a special snowbird insurance policy that can cover your trip for an extended time period. Also, note that there may be residency requirements to maintain your provincial health benefits (which some personal insurance plans require you to carry). The amount of time differs by province and territory, but you may be required to reside in your home province for a few months in a calendar year to remain enrolled in your provincial health insurance plan.
What is the best travel medical insurance for seniors?
The best travel insurance for seniors should provide a broad range of health coverages while accounting for pre-existing conditions – this can include funds for medical emergencies, medical evacuation, and repatriation if needed. In terms of non-health-related aspects, look for policies that also include coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost or delayed baggage, and around-the-clock emergency assistance.
It's important to compare prices when looking for the best senior travel insurance to find your cheapest option. But at the same time, be sure to look over what each policy covers and excludes while considering your personal needs as a traveller.
At what age does travel insurance increase in price?
The age at which travel insurance rates start to go up will depend on the provider. However, it's common for premiums to start increasing more substantially when travellers reach about 60 years old. Keep in mind that age is only one factor in the calculation of your quote – insurers also look at your health status, and having a pre-existing condition can hike up your rate quickly.
What is considered a pre-existing condition for travel insurance?
A pre-existing condition encompasses any injury, illness, disease, or medical condition that you were aware of before your departure. While the specific definition may vary among travel insurance providers, it typically includes any condition for which you've exhibited symptoms, received a diagnosis, undergone treatment, or been prescribed medication.
You can still get travel insurance coverage with pre-existing conditions, but many policies include a stability clause that requires your condition to be under control with no major changes for a set time period (e.g. 90 days).
Can a 90-year-old get travel insurance?
Yes, it's still possible to get travel insurance coverage for a 90-year-old, but the older an applicant is, the more expensive travel insurance becomes. Insurers typically require medical questionnaires after a certain age is passed (e.g. 60 years old), and if you have pre-existing medical conditions, you may be denied a mainstream plan. However, some insurers don't have age restrictions at all, and there are still plans out there designed specifically for older seniors.