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Travel insurance cost hikes push disabled and older people to take risks

It is well documented that the cost of travel insurance for anyone with a disability, long-term medical condition or who just happens to be the wrong side of 60 can be extremely high. But a new survey by Avanti Travel Insurance has thrown light on how these costs are pushing some people to play roulette with their well-being by travelling without cover.

At Avanti travel insurance, we provide policies for older travellers and those with medical conditions. Recently, we conducted a survey of 1,000 people in the UK. From this, we found clear evidence that people aged 65 and over view the cost of travel insurance as a major barrier to going on holiday abroad.

Asked what their biggest worry was about travelling overseas, 85% of over-65s singled out the price of travel cover. We believe that these concerns are enough to put a sizeable number of people off travelling at all.

‘Higher risk’ travellers

Most travel insurance companies point to the fact that providing medical cover for overseas travellers is a considerable financial risk. Foreign visitors usually have to pay for any medical care they need privately, which can make even simple and routine treatments expensive.

To cover the potential costs of complex care for the most serious illnesses and accidents, including medical repatriation, health cover schedules on travel insurance policies typically run into the millions.

For us as insurance providers, anyone who has an existing medical condition or a disability represents a bigger risk of needing medical care when they travel. Therefore, we need to increase their premiums. It’s the same when it comes to older travellers.

However, criticism of pricing strategies centres on the fact that premiums increase many times more than the rate and cost of claims, and are applied automatically.

For example, figures from the insurance trade body the Association of British Insurers show that the average value of a claim trebles from a person in their 50s to someone in their 80s. But Which? revealed that someone in their 80s can expect to pay six times more for a European annual policy than someone in their 50s.

Taking risks

The upshot of these costs is that we believe older people are taking risks by travelling abroad without cover.

Our survey at Avanti found that 40% of respondents aged 65 and over would travel from the UK to France without taking out travel insurance – rising significantly to 58% of women aged over 65.

This serves to further underline how standard practices amongst mainstream insurance providers are putting older people, especially those with medical problems, between a rock and a hard place.

By Avanti Travel Insurance

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