Travel insurance is essential for anyone taking a trip abroad. Travel insurance protects you in the event of medical emergencies, lost luggage and cancelled holidays. Taking a trip without travel insurance can leave you facing bills running into the thousands should the worst happen. For older travellers, the bad news is that travel insurance over 50 costs more – and the older you get, the more you’ll pay.
If you’re looking for travel insurance over 50, then be prepared for increased premiums and a reduction in the range of available travel insurance policies. Though most insurers will insure under 65s without a hitch as long as you declare pre-existing medical conditions, prices jump sharply when you’re over 65. A fit-as-a-fiddle 80-year-old can face travel insurance premiums that are breathtakingly expensive, making travel costs prohibitive.
It’s worth knowing how to buy the best travel insurance over 50, making sure you get the right cover for the best price. Choosing the best over 50 travel insurance is hugely dependent on destination, how often you travel, the value of the items you bring with you, type of cover – such as cruising travel insurance – and any pre-existing medical conditions. Several insurers specialise in travel insurance for the over 50s, including Saga and AgeUK.
If you’re heading abroad and aged over 65, read our expert guide Travel insurance over 65: buying the best policy.
Why take out travel insurance over 50?
More people aged over 50 take out travel insurance than younger travellers. According to Finder.com, nearly 40% of 18-24-year-olds travel uninsured, compared to 23% of 45-54-year-olds. Only 14% of over 55s travel without insurance, but that’s still a huge percentage taking an unnecessary risk.
Travel insurance covers a range of problems: medical and health emergencies; missed flights beyond your control; cancelling or having to cut short a trip; lost, stolen or damaged items such as stolen cash, passports, cameras and phones; and damage or injury that you accidentally cause – either to someone else to property.
Popular over 50 travel insurance – such as Saga travel insurance – covers more than the obvious, such as lost luggage and delayed flights or cancelled holidays. It’s best to view travel insurance over 50 as an essential helping hand that can sort out problems. Travel insurance can include emergency helplines, access to advice, help to get you back home and picking up medical bills. Don’t think of travel insurance as just money back but as support should things go wrong.
Travel insurance over 50 is essential if travelling independently – such as taking a later life gap year – as you can be stranded or stuck with huge bills to get home that may run into tens of thousands of pounds. The average medical bill paid by insurers was £1,300 in 2016, an increase of 40% from 2011, according to research by Finder.com.
Travel insurance over 50 – types of travel insurance
Buying the right type of over 50s travel insurance can make a difference to the premium you’ll pay. Buying the best over 50 travel insurance means you can save money and avoid spending more on travel insurance than you need.
Single trip travel insurance over 50
If you’re only planning just one overseas trip in a calendar year, then single trip travel insurance is likely to be cheaper. Single trip travel insurance can also be cost-effective for older travellers and those with pre-existing medical conditions compared to buying annual travel insurance. It’s also worth looking at if you plan one local holiday, such as to the UK, and then one further afield.
However, if you’re taking more than one trip and are in good health, it’s generally better to buy multi-trip annual insurance.
Multi-trip annual travel insurance
One of the most popular types of travel insurance, especially for the over 50s. Multi-trip annual travel insurance covers all the trips you make in a calendar year, and if you go on two trips it usually works out cheaper than buying two separate travel insurance policies. It’s also far less hassle – you only need to shop around once per year rather than for each trip – but watch out for automatic renewals and price hikes when you come to the end of your policy.
There are a few things to look out for. If travelling to Europe only, make sure to avoid worldwide or US cover as these add significantly to the cost. There’s also usually a limit to how much time you can spend aboard – typically 90 days – in one go, making it less useful if you were taking a later life gap year, for example.
Worldwide travel insurance over 50
If you’re planning on travelling to the US, South America or Australasia, then worldwide travel insurance is a must. It’s also expensive. The price reflects the higher cost of medical care in these areas and the lack of reciprocal medical cover arrangements with countries in these areas, unlike those the UK has with Europe. Worldwide travel insurance is essential if taking a later life gap year or if you’re ticking off your round-the-world bucket list travel itinerary.
Winter sports travel insurance
If you’re planning winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding, then winter sports travel insurance is vital. Don’t expect a standard travel insurance policy to pay out if you do take part in winter sports and sustain an injury. Most standard policies explicitly exclude winter sports cover, so it isn’t worth the risk. Winter sports travel insurance costs more, primarily because of the heightened risk of injury when on the slopes, and the higher costs such as needing mountain rescue or airlift to hospital.
Travel insurance over 65
Travel insurance gets significantly more expensive – and difficult to find – once you hit 65. You’ll need to look to specialist providers such as Saga travel insurance for comprehensive cover that has fewer exclusions.
Read our travel insurance over 65 guide for more advice on choosing the best travel insurance, pre-conditions and cover.
Cruising travel insurance over 50
Standard travel insurance policies for the over 50s may not cover cruising so you’ll need to purchase cruise travel insurance as an additional extra. This covers events such as missed departures, changes to the itinerary, or being confined to your cabin such as dealing with a shipwide illness that curtails your enjoyment of the cruise.
Pre-existing medical conditions for over 50s travel insurance
As we age, we’re more likely to develop ongoing medical conditions, yet these can have a significant impact on buying travel insurance. Declaring pre-existing medical conditions is important to make sure you’re covered – and the insurer pays out if something goes wrong.
Pre-existing conditions are medical issues that you know about, such as those diagnosed by a doctor and for which you take medication. While policies differ, it’s worth checking what the insurer defines as a pre-existing condition. Typically, pre-existing conditions cover conditions such as asthma and breathing conditions, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and other heart conditions, stomach problems and bone and joint conditions.
Even if you view it as a minor condition that doesn’t affect your daily activity, you’ll need to tell your insurers in advance to make sure you have the right cover and you get the right help should you need to make a claim.
You may need to declare other conditions that are linked to a medical diagnosis. If they are linked and not declared, again the insurer might not pay out or it might not be covered in the policy. There is no point in trying to downplay medical conditions to save money on the insurance premium – if you don’t declare it, the insurer may refuse to payout.
More serious pre-existing conditions may need specialist insurance. In all cases, check what’s included in your policy, so you are crystal clear that your pre-existing condition is covered.
Over 50s travel insurance tips
Regardless of the type of travel insurance you choose or where you go, there are some travel insurance tips worth knowing. They’ll either save you money when buying, expand medical support or make the chance of a successful claim more likely.
Buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. Travel insurance starts working from when you pay for it, such as cancellation protection due to illness. Don’t leave it to just before you go on holiday – if it’s booked, it’s unprotected until you have travel insurance in place.
Not all policies are the same. Take time to look at the excess you’ll pay, what is – and isn’t – covered, and any exclusions. It seems obvious but read the policy document carefully and use the 14-day cooling period to cancel the policy if it doesn’t meet your needs.
Remember your EHIC card when going to Europe. It provides the same level of medical care as that the citizens of the European country receive, such as free hospital treatment. It’s not meant to replace travel insurance but adds extra protection. EHIC cards are free – never pay for one – and apply for your EHIC card at and only get the EHIC card from the official EHIC application site.
You might already be covered. Some banks offer free annual travel insurance, especially with premium accounts. Check if you have travel insurance in place and if it offers the cover you need before buying a policy.
If you’re buying a group or family policy, the oldest group member can dramatically impact policy prices. If you’re over 50 but the rest of the group is aged less than 50, it can be cheaper to buy a separate policy for you and a group policy for all those aged below 50.
As you get older and certainly over 65, it’s worth remembering that single trip policies might be cheaper than an annual policy, especially if you have pre-existing conditions.
Watch for automatic renewals and price hikes. Take time to shop around for the best annual travel insurance rather than just automatically renewing to ensure you’re paying the best price.