The cost of travel insurance is a major worry for older travellers who are increasingly likely to be put off heading abroad by spiralling policy costs.

According to a new report from Avanti, an insurance provider which specialises in cover for the over-50s, the price of travel insurance is by far and away the number one financial concern older people have about travelling overseas. The Avanti study, which surveyed more than 1000 British holidaymakers, found that 85% of over 65s worry about the cost of travel cover, while 40% cited finances as a reason not to travel at all.

As people get older, travel insurance firms are allowed to increase the premiums they charge to compensate for the fact that people are more likely to need to make a medical claim as they get older. However, the concern for many older travellers is that, at many companies, these price hikes extend well beyond the average costs per claim.

For example, UK insurance trade body ABI’s figures show that average medical claims increase around three-fold for travellers from the age of 55 to 85. But recent research from consumer group Which? reveals that people in their 80s are often being charged six times or more what travellers in their 50s are being asked to pay.

With the potential financial risks of heading abroad without insurance so great because of the high cost of medical care for foreign visitors, many older people feel that they simply have to stay at home once policies become too expensive for them to afford. However, Avanti recommends older people don’t give up on overseas travel and look beyond the mainstream high street providers for a better deal on insurance.

Personal approach

Every travel insurance provider will ask customers to make a declaration about pre-existing health conditions when they buy a policy. This, combined with the person’s age, is used to decide a) whether or not to offer cover and b) how much to charge. However, most companies simply apply fixed, and usually very high, ‘book price’ increases without digging into the specific circumstances of the individual.

Companies like Avanti that specialise in medical travel cover take a much more personal approach. Older travellers, for example, can get the advantage of a health screening before they are offered a quotation. This takes the form of a straightforward questionnaire about existing health conditions and day-to-day well-being, as well as background medical checks.

This allows insurers to tailor policies to individual needs, rather than just applying generic price hikes across the board. If you are in good health and your medical history shows no serious concerns, you could end up saving large sums compared to what mainstream providers offer.

For Brad May, Chief Marketing Officer at Avanti, the key thing is finding a solution so older people can continue to enjoy travelling while getting the protection they need. “It’s true that travel insurance does get more expensive as we get older as the risk of something going wrong increases,” he said.

“We’ve all heard stories of people risking their life savings and losing their homes over the cost of emergency medical treatment abroad when they haven’t covered themselves properly. Having reassurance and trusting your travel insurance can feel priceless in comparison to the cost.”