For many, the best way to spend their golden years is to travel the world. As you set out on an adventure to places unseen, there is an inherent risk. As such, travel insurance becomes essential, especially for those with medical conditions.
Seniors have a lot of travel insurance options available to them. Each insurance plan has pros and cons, as well as specific caveats and limitations. As a traveling senior, you must know how to evaluate different insurance plans. In doing so, you can find the best coverage for your travels.
Buying travel insurance is a valuable safety precaution. But finding which one is right for you can be confusing. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best travel insurance plans for seniors with medical conditions.
What to Look for in a Travel Insurance Plan
Travel insurance offers protection as you travel. Generally, travel insurance plans provide some level of medical or financial security. But the ways in which different providers offer this protection varies greatly.
Before discovering the best travel insurance options for seniors, learn about the common elements of travel insurance plans. After that, you will be ready to begin evaluating plans for yourself.
Different Types of Travel Insurance
To begin with, all travel insurance plans are different.
Each may provide multiple kinds of coverage. Below are some examples of coverage options that are both common and relevant to seniors.
- Emergency Medical Care
- Medical Evacuation
- Trip Cancellation
- Baggage and Personal Belongings
Let’s take a look at each of these forms of coverage. Each section will specifically emphasize how these coverage types are relevant to seniors.
Emergency Medical Care
Seniors are more likely to need medical attention than any other age group. The unpredictable nature of travel does not improve those odds.
This is why emergency medical travel insurance is very important for traveling seniors. The good news is that people of any age can get this coverage, even those over 80.
Considering travel is a highly active venture, there are many physical risks. All travelers, and seniors especially, may have sudden illnesses or injuries. In these cases, emergency medical insurance can offset your medical expenses.
As with emergency medical coverage, seniors are also more likely to require medical evacuations.
Sometimes you may be hurt or sick but far away from adequate medical help. In those cases, medical evacuation coverage, also known as medevac, is extremely useful.
Medical evacuations typically unfold in one of the following ways.
The person is transported from:
- their location to the nearest hospital
- one hospital to another that has better equipment or specialized care
- their vacation destination to their home.
This transport can be exceptionally expensive. This is especially true when traveling by air.
If you ever find yourself in such an unfortunate situation, you will be grateful to have medical evacuation coverage.
Although not directly related to medical conditions, trip cancellation coverage is also great for senior travelers. This coverage option can cover up-to all of your travel expenses if you cancel your trip unexpectedly.
However, coverage will be dependent on if you canceled for qualifying reasons listed by the provider. Some common reasons include:
- Unforeseen illness
- Natural disasters
- Death in the family
- Death of the traveler
Many of these reasons for cancellation are specifically applicable to those of advanced age. The elderly are simply more likely to become suddenly ill or pass away.
Cancellation coverage anticipates these occurrences and offers varying levels of reimbursement when they occur.
Baggage and Personal Belongings
As you travel, there are numerous opportunities for your luggage to get lost.
Without a doubt, this can ruin your trip. At the very least, your travel insurance can cover the cost of that loss.
But the level to which they will do so will, again, depend on the scenario.
For instance, let’s say your luggage was only temporarily lost. Your insurance will likely cover the essential purchases you needed to make while you were without your luggage.
On the other hand, your luggage may be permanently lost. In those cases, coverage can vary based on the items you lost and how much they are worth. Sometimes, your insurance will cover the entirety of the loss.
Baggage and personal belonging coverage mainly relate to luggage lost in transit. But seniors are also more likely to be the victims of theft. There are coverage options that apply to theft as well.
This coverage typically applies when items are stolen in these situations:
- At the airport
- In a hotel
- When in transit between destinations or travel checkpoints
In addition to being limited to these instances, these coverages also apply a limited monetary level. There will be an upper limit for coverage for specific kinds of items, like electronics and jewelry. This limit is often in the $300 range.
Package insurance plans combine a wide range of coverage types. These plans are intended to be all-encompassing and suitable for any traveler.
You may find that package plans are a bit more expensive. However, usually, that is because they offer so much more.
These plans will likely include some form of each of the coverage types detailed above. They may also include other forms of coverage, including:
- Car rental coverage
- Trip interruption coverage
- Dental coverage
- Accidental death coverage
There are also specialized versions of package plan options. One example is cruise insurance. This is a package deal that covers events that are unique to cruising, such as:
- Port of call changes
- Disruptions in ship services
- Pre-paid excursion reimbursement
Cruises are very popular among seniors. So having cruise-specific insurance may be a good idea.
The fact that many seniors have pre-existing medical issues can pose a challenge when searching for insurance. Coverage may be significantly reduced for issues that arise as a result of these conditions.
For example, many seniors have heart conditions.
These heart conditions put you at greater risk of having a serious medical event during your travels. In response, insurance providers will be much more reluctant to give you coverage.
They seek to minimize their risk by opting to insure those who are less likely to have a medical issue during a vacation. The insurers disincentivize those with pre-existing conditions in many common ways that we will not detail in full here.
A coverage provider may reduce the maximum amount they will cover when medical issues arise from pre-existing conditions.
Clearly, this is a concern for seniors shopping for insurance. In many situations, insurance companies will exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions by default. However, there is still some hope for those with pre-existing conditions who still want coverage.
Pre-Existing Condition Waivers
Many insurance providers offer pre-existing condition waivers. Here is a basic idea of how they work:
- The traveler has a pre-existing condition not covered by the plan provider
- The traveler meets certain requirements making them eligible to apply for a waiver
- After paying for a trip, the traveler purchases insurance soon after and applies for the waiver
- Based on the scenario, the insurance company will evaluate whether or not the traveler will be granted a waiver
- If granted, the waiver gives coverage for otherwise excluded medical events
Eligibility for a waiver will depend on the nature of each insurance company and the plans they offer.
For some seniors, this additional service is a great relief. So, if you are feeling limited in your insurance search based on your pre-existing condition, know that you may have waiver options.
In our later list, we emphasize plans that are good for senior travelers. You can expect to see plan options that include the option for pre-existing condition waivers.
This feature will be noted for each listed plan that offers it.
In turn, each plan will have different qualifications and definitions surrounding these waivers. Be sure to contact the company directly if you have confusion surrounding your pre-existing conditions.
Another aspect of insurance related to pre-existing conditions is known as the lookback period.
The lookback period is a defined period of time your provider will evaluate after you make a claim.
These periods are often 180 days before the start of your coverage or less.
The provider will look at your medical record for this period. They are interested in seeing if your claim is somehow the result of a condition present during the six-months before your vacation.
To receive coverage for your claim, you must be seen as medically stable during this lookback period. Many factors will prevent a person from being seen as medically stable, including the following:
- You were prescribed new medications
- There were changes in your prescriptions
- Your current condition became significantly worse
- You were diagnosed with a new condition
If none of those occurred during the lookback period, you would likely receive coverage for your claim.
Why Can’t I Just Rely on My Current Insurance?
Some people may wonder why it is necessary to purchase travel insurance. After all, wouldn’t your regular health insurance plan already provide coverage?
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
You will have to call your individual plan provider to find out for sure, but one of the following cases may leave you vulnerable:
- Your insurance offers only limited coverage when traveling
- There are geographic limitations to your coverage
- Your provider offers no travel insurance at all
For example, many seniors have Medicare.
If this is the case for you, you should strongly consider buying travel insurance. Medicare does not provide coverage while traveling.
Another prominent example is Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They offer travel insurance, but on a limited basis.
They make distinctions between which scenarios qualify for coverage and which don’t based on the severity of your condition.
Does Travel Insurance Replace My Health Insurance?
Travel insurance often covers medical events.
This leads some to believe that travel insurance can serve as a replacement for regular health insurance.
This is a misconception.
The key differences between travel and regular health insurance are outlined below:
- Regular Health Insurance – Covers routine check-ups, medicine costs, emergency medical events
- Travel Insurance – Gives coverage specifically for those traveling. Travel insurance is only applicable to what happens while on a trip
If you are traveling, check to see if your regular health insurance gives full coverage for traveling. If not, you most likely need to purchase and maintain both forms of coverage.
Finding a good travel insurance plan is never easy. With the current presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, that process is even more challenging.
With health risks related to COVID-19 at the forefront of many people’s minds, many insurance companies have responded accordingly.
You will find plans on the following list that offer specific coverage for COVID-19 related medical events.
Remember that these come with limitations. So, make sure you read carefully before deciding on a plan.
Likewise, given the pandemic, it is vital to consult your doctor before traveling.
This is even more necessary for seniors, who are considered to be at risk of serious cases of COVID-19.
Travel Insurance Options
Now you have some familiarity with different aspects of travel insurance plans. It’s time to start looking at some of the most popular providers and some of the plans that they offer.
These plans all vary in pricing and coverage. Only by careful evaluation will you be able to find the plan that matches your needs.
Keep in mind your current medical condition as well as your financial situation. By doing so, you can find a travel insurance plan that is perfect for you.
Travel Guard is one of the leading travel insurance providers. They offer many different plan options for you to consider.
The three main plan options they feature are:
- Deluxe Plan
- Preferred Plan
- Essential Plan
Each plan comes with its own benefits.
The offerings of these options give consumers more flexibility as they choose their plan.
Below are some details about each one. But before we proceed, there is one limitation to this provider that must be mentioned.
These three travel guard plans are available to residents of any of the United States except those living in New York. New York residents will have to opt for one of the other insurance providers on our list.
The Deluxe Plan is the premium plan offered by Travel Guard. This plan has the highest level of medical expense coverage. In addition to that, it also offers the following forms of coverage:
- Up to 100% of trip cancellation fees
- Trip interruption coverage up to $225,000
- Baggage coverage up to $2,500
- Emergency evacuation
- Remains repatriation
This list represents only a few of the coverage types included in this plan. In fact, there are many more additional features you will enjoy.
One of the most valuable aspects of this plan is the pre-existing conditions waiver.
This waiver is included in your plan if you purchase the plan within 15 days of your initial trip payment.
For seniors who travel with family members, the Preferred Plan may be the best option for you. This plan has special elements for those who travel with children.
This includes coverage for one child under 17 at no additional cost. However, to qualify for that deal, the cost of the child’s trip must be less than the cost for their adult relative.
So if you are a grandparent traveling with a grandchild, this plan may save you some money. Beyond this family coverage, this plan includes similar coverage to what is listed for the deluxe plan.
As you might expect, the Essential plan is the most economical option of the three plans Travel Guard offers.
For seniors with a limited budget, this may be a good option that will save money. But be warned that reduced cost naturally leads to reductions in coverage.
The Essential plan places little emphasis on pre-existing conditions. Instead, it boasts its 24/7 assistance service. The plan also has the same family deal as the Preferred Plan.
Allianz Travel has at least ten travel insurance plans for you to choose from. These plans are divided into categories. Those categories are:
- Single Trips
- Rental Car
We will focus on a few plans in the single trip and annual/multi-trip categories for our purposes.
OneTrip Prime is a single trip insurance plan.
Allianz Travel claims it to be their most popular plan. Let’s look at the reasons why.
- Up to $1000,000 trip cancellation reimbursement
- $500,000 of emergency medical transportation costs
- Up to $1,000 for baggage loss or theft
- Rental car damage protection
- Complimentary concierge service
Also, this plan includes a loyalty program. This is a $500 value for frequent flyer miles.
To make the plan even more appealing, there is a 24-hour hotline for your use. This round-the-clock support will help you to handle any unforeseen travel issues and emergencies.
Regarding pre-existing conditions, yours or a family member may be covered on a case by case basis.
As a guideline, the OneTrip Prime plan defines a pre-existing condition as one occurring within 120 days of your trip.
OneTrip Emergency Medical
OneTrip Emergency Medical emphasizes emergency medical treatment rather than other common coverage features.
Considering medical treatment is a priority concern for seniors, this option may be optimal.
Look at some of the medical care that the OneTrip Emergency Medical plan covers:
- Up to $50,000 of emergency medical coverage
- $250,000 of emergency medical transportation coverage
- $750 maximum for covered dental expenses
This plan has other elements, including baggage loss and travel accident coverage. But these are far less of the focus here.
Pre-existing conditions waivers are also available for this plan.
Some seniors are frequent travelers. They make exciting trips every year, sometimes multiple times per year.
For these travelers, one of Allianz Travel’s multi-trip plans will be more suitable.
These plans provide coverage for a whole year rather than for single trips.
The AllTrips Basic plan is the most affordable of this variety. This plan eliminates trip cancellation coverage. Instead, it places emphasis on medical coverage.
Though this plan is an annual plan, the coverage limits apply to individual trips. Here is a breakdown of the top offerings:
- $20,000 in emergency medical coverage
- $100,000 for emergency medical transport
- $25,000 covering travel accidents
As mentioned above, this plan does not provide trip cancellation coverage. It also seems to exclude pre-existing conditions with no waiver option.
Still, it is a lower-cost option with decent value for seniors.
The AllTrips Premier plan is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the AllTrips Basic Plan.
This plan is one of Allianz Travel’s most expensive. As such, it comes with some of the most coverage options.
Here are some of those high-level coverage offerings:
- $50,000 in emergency medical coverage
- $500,000 for emergency medical transport
- Coverage for baggage loss or theft up to $2,000
As the premium annual plan, AllTrips Premier offers the option of waiving pre-existing medical conditions.
It also has a host of other offerings, including varying levels of trip cancellation and interruption coverage.
IMG is another company that provides many travel insurance plan options.
In the following sections, we will look at the two that are most relevant. One is specifically tailored for seniors. The other is a plan that focuses on medical care.
GlobeHopper Senior Travel Medical Insurance
The GlobeHopper Senior Travel Medical Insurance is made for senior travelers.
But this plan is only available to those between the ages of 65 and 79.
The period of coverage lasts for a minimum of five days. The maximum length is a full year.
Some of the medical coverages for the GlobeHopper Senior Travel Medical Insurance are as follows:
- 30 overnight hospital stays
- Transportation between medical facilities up to $2,500 lifetime
- Intensive care coverage
- Emergency room visits
Beyond coverage for specific medical events, the plan also gives coverage for:
- Trip protection
- Pre-existing conditions
- Dental care
As a product made for seniors, the GlobeHopper Senior Travel Medical Insurance is one you should definitely consider as you test the insurance market.
Patriot Platinum Travel Medical Insurance
This plan focuses on medical coverage.
Currently, one of the main benefits of the Patriot Platinum Travel Medical Insurance is that it has specific aspects related to COVID-19. You can use up to your policy maximum on COVID-19 treatment if it is provided after the policy effective date.
In addition to this, here is a list of some of this plan’s other highlights:
- Intensive care coverage
- $250 per hospital overnight stay for up to ten nights
- 20% coverage for surgery costs
- Reconstructive surgery
- Emergency ambulance coverage
Additionally, this plan has evacuation and trip-protection coverage. It is a great all-around option offering flexibility through choices for maximum limits.
TravelSafe offers two main insurance plan options:
- Classic Travel Insurance
- Basic Travel Insurance
These plans have similar features as well as variations in coverage levels.
For seniors, classic is likely a better option.
This preference is because the basic plan does not offer pre-existing condition waivers for those living in the following states:
Given that limitation, let’s focus on the classic plan.
The classic plan has the following coverage benefits:
- $1,000,000 for emergency medical evacuation
- $25,000 for non-emergency medical evacuation
- $100,000 for accident and sickness expenses
The classic plan also offers coverage for loss of personal belongings up to $2,500.
Both plans have optional car rental damage and 24-hour worldwide support.
Atlas Travel Insurance
Atlas Travel travel insurance is a good option for those who visit international destinations.
Plans are flexible based on the needs of individuals. Many aspects of the plans are customizable.
Atlas Travel also provides specific options for those who are 80 years and older.
This is a contrast to some other insurance companies who place age limits on their coverage. Regardless of age, Atlas Travel gives you these benefits as your travel:
- Local Ambulance coverage
- Intensive care coverage
- Emergency room and urgent care copays
- $25,000 lifetime for emergency medical evacuations
- $50,000 for expenses related to terrorism
These plans also have coverage for COVID-19 related expenses.
In addition, acute onset- of pre-existing conditions is also covered by Atlas Travel plans. However, This comes with some exclusions, as you might expect.
For example, chronic and congenital conditions are not covered. Those who are over 80 also will not have their pre-existing conditions covered.
There are so many factors that go into selecting a quality travel insurance plan. But what is most important to know is that you shouldn’t let this stop you from traveling.
The young and aged alike deserve to travel the world and experience different cultures. Of course, these experiences bring risk, especially for seniors.
But be prepared in advance. Finding a great travel insurance plan is a great way to ensure you stay safe as you explore the world.