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Travel insurance is a smart way to protect the money you have invested in a big trip in case unforeseen hurdles stop you from traveling. Seemingly now more than ever, last-minute changes can disrupt a trip, and in some cases, the money spent on nonrefundable purchases is at risk. There are numerous travel insurance options for people older than 65, but it is important to understand the nuances.
Medical issues or situations at (or en route to) your destination can stifle even the best-laid plans. Many credit cards include travel insurance as one of their benefits. These plans can assist in the event of lost or delayed baggage, flight delays and cancellations, and other adjustments to a trip paid for with that particular card.
When buying supplemental senior citizen travel insurance, don’t rely on the default option presented by your travel provider. There are many considerations to take into account, like how far from home you plan to be, the potential for injury or sickness (including your pre-existing medical conditions), and what may already be covered by other insurance plans you have.
For example, medical evacuation may not be covered, but local transportation to a hospital may be. And remember that U.S. health plans or Medicare coverage are especially limited outside of the country.
Here are some options worth reviewing from a handful of insurance providers: Allianz, Medjet, Travelers and your specific travel provider.
Senior travel insurance options for people 65 and older
Allianz offers excellent coverage for travelers over 65. It can help make payments for medical treatments overseas, even in the local currency and their preferred payment methods, to keep you from paying out of pocket.
For longer trips, it offers an AllTrips Prime Plan in increments of three, six or 12 months (ideal if you plan to vacation elsewhere during the winter months, for example). This plan covers emergency medical transport. The company takes into account certain pre-existing medical conditions so be sure to read the fine print.
» Learn more: Does travel insurance cover medical expenses?
If you fall ill or need assistance during your travels, Medjet’s supplemental coverage for medical transportation helps you get to your home or the hospital of your choice. It includes air medical transport. This is a membership program that covers emergencies and can be tacked onto trips or purchased annually. While not technically travel insurance, this company offers an additional medical transport option for emergencies.
This coverage can be helpful if you're planning to travel in remote or unfamiliar areas, such as on safaris, to secluded islands and other far-flung destinations.
Most other travel insurers might only get you to the nearest appropriate hospital facility. For travelers younger than 75, Medjet offers no pre-existing medical condition exclusions and it doesn't rule out the same number of activities that other providers might.
With the option to buy an annual, multi-trip protector, Travelers insurance covers a whole year of trips with the option to upgrade several features. The add-ons include “Cancel For Any Reason” insurance and trip interruption coverage.
» Learn more: "Cancel for Any Reason" travel insurance explained
4. Your travel provider’s own plan
On certain types of trips, say a cruise or a Caribbean resort that is prone to hurricanes, using the travel provider’s recommended insurance can be a good bet. This coverage is usually offered as an add-on during the booking process, but it can also be added after the reservation.
Most likely, these policies are designed to cover delay or cancellation issues, but be sure to read the fine print to see if medical transportation or trip interruption is also included.
Choosing a provider of your own can make sense when planning your own travel (let’s say a honeymoon to Paris or the Maldives). If a cruise line or safari outfitter offers insurance of its own, that might be the most comprehensive when it comes to that particular provider’s operations.
Tips for selecting travel insurance for seniors
Deciding if you need travel insurance is the first hurdle. Next comes the task of selecting the right one without spending more than the cost of what you are actually trying to protect. These are some important tips to consider.
It is wise to compare the options available using aggregator websites like SquareMouth (a NerdWallet partner) and InsureMyTrip.com. These sites compare the options from dozens of different providers detailing what they do and do not cover. Seeing the exclusions as well as considering them within the framework of your trip can help you select the best plan for your travel needs.
Consider existing coverage
Review your existing coverage, whether that is via your health insurance or any credit card protections you may have. Some of the benefits you might be paying extra for when getting supplemental travel insurance may already be covered.
Read the fine print
Don’t base your final decision on price, as sometimes the cheapest policy may be the most restrictive — and the most expensive policy may give you coverage for activities you won't even be doing.
What may seem like an inclusion may actually be disallowed due to a technicality (terrorist attack or war). If you’re not sure, pick up the phone and ask if your specific situation is covered.
What else seniors need to know about travel insurance
Timing is key. The sooner you buy your travel insurance coverage, the more time you have to benefit from it. The price could also rise the closer you get to departure. If you wait until the departure date to buy it, you would be out of luck if the week before you get sick or the destination closes its borders. Buying insurance after an issue arises won't help you.
Travel insurance is a safe way to protect that sunken cost. Spending money on travel, even with the benefit of loyalty program miles and points to offset some of the cost, can be a significant investment. Chances are that you won’t even need it, but like other insurance policies, it can pay off in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Weigh the cost of potential expenses with the insurance plan. Canceling a rental car for a road trip may not be a big deal, but business class flights and a nonrefundable cruise might be.
Credit card coverage only protects you if you use that card to pay for your travel. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express also offer travel insurance benefits when paying with points, too. Terms apply. Using the right card for your trip can help save money on other potential travel insurance costs.
Final thoughts on senior travel insurance
What may seem like an unnecessary extra cost can actually help save the day in certain circumstances. It can pay dividends to understand what your existing coverage includes (especially via a particular credit card) so that travelers over 65 make the most advantageous insurance decision for their trips.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card