Protection abroad

You have more time to travel, but it’s important to be safe. Travel insurance will help you get the peace of mind you need, but you must make sure you’re getting the right policy...

Travel insurance in retirement – what do I need to know?

You may want to broaden your horizons in retirement, and make the most of your savings with some overseas travel. If so, that's something exciting to look forward to – but unfortunately, you may find it harder to get travel insurance to fulfil those ambitions.

Some providers believe there'll be higher risks involved if you are older, and the truth of the matter is that older people are statistically more likely to make a claim due to their health. In addition, those treatment costs are likely to be higher. And in some cases, those in their 80s can find they are turned down for cover altogether.

But that doesn't mean you can't get insurance. There are specialist providers of travel insurance for older people who take into account your maturity and offer additional medical and emergency cover as standard.

So what should I be looking for in older people’s travel insurance?

As with all insurance policies, it's important to understand what you would or would not be covered for with a travel insurance policy:

  • Read through the terms and conditions carefully. If they're complicated and there's something you're not sure about then call the provider before you buy the policy.
  • The provider's customer services team should know the policy well, and if they can't answer your questions, they'll be in an ideal position to find someone who can.
  • Think about your budget – with limited retirement income it may be better to buy a single-trip policy for a lower price, than invest in a multi-trip policy (just in case you can't travel later in the year).

Above all, be honest. Do declare any pre-existing medical conditions and medicines you're taking. Even if you're tempted to omit some of the details in an attempt to bring down the premiums: don't – because you could end up without any cover at all as a result.

How much will it cost?

It will depend on your age, where you are travelling to, how long for etc. Many specialist travel companies offer you a number of options, including:

  • Adding children or grandchildren to the policy.
  • Additional golf or winter sports cover.
  • Long stay trip cover if you are off on the trip of a lifetime or a world cruise.

Don't I get free health insurance if I travel in Europe?

As a UK resident (not the channel Islands or Isle of Man), you're entitled to free or discounted medical treatment at state-run hospitals and GPs in any other European Union country – plus a few others. You need to apply for an European Health Insurance Card (the replacement for the old E111 form) at least a week to ten days before you go away – preferably longer to allow for busy periods. There are several ways to apply for a card – including the EHIC Website – and remember it's absolutely free to apply. Please beware of scam websites that try to charge you for the card. It costs nothing and you shouldn't need to part with any money when you apply for a card.

EHIC cards ensure you get access to state run medical treatment – so it means they are not a substitute for good travel insurance. Depending on where you go, state health provision can be less readily available than in the UK – and the standards won't necessarily be as high. Travel insurance also covers you for a lot more than the costs of any medical treatment – including flight delays and lost or stolen belongings, so it's worth having travel insurance if you are thinking of heading abroad.

There will be no changes to healthcare access for UK nationals visiting or living in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland before 31 December 2020.