In recent weeks, high street banks have come under fire for offering ‘free’ travel insurance as part of their paid-for current account packages and. in particular, targeting over 65s.
A Money Mail investigation has revealed that up to 2.6 million pensioners have been sold ‘rip-off bank accounts’ that can cost as much as £25 a month. They reported, “in many cases people over 70 are paying for travel insurance that does not cover them,” due to their age or medical conditions. The accounts have been sold to just under 11 million people, while research from consumer experts Mintel indicated that one in four of these customers – approximately 2.6 million people – were over 65.
While it’s clear that aggressive sales tactics have left vulnerable older people without adequate cover, it’s important that consumers feel better equipped to ask the right questions when buying travel insurance policies. Over-50s insurance and travel specialist Staysure has put together a checklist for older travellers to make sure they know exactly what they’re paying for to avoid being ripped off.
Chris Rolland, CEO of Staysure, said, “Research shows that 12 per cent of over-50s opt-in to their bank’s policy without shopping around. We know from our own experience that what is important is guiding customers through the medical screening process easily, to help them get the right cover for their particular requirements. By simply buying a packaged product, many older people could be risking finding out that they are not covered in the event of becoming ill abroad.”
Top 5 questions to ask your travel insurer if you’re over 65
1. Is there an age limit?
It’s true that if, you’re over 65, many insurance providers may charge higher premiums for travel insurance policies and, if over 75, you may not be covered at all by generalist providers – so look for a provider who specialises in cover for the mature traveller. Nationwide (Flex Travel Cover, annual) and Barclays (Personal Travel Insurance, annual) both have upper age limits of 75 and 74 respectively, while Santander have recently pulled out of the market for included travel insurance. Staysure’s Comprehensive annual policy has an upper age limit of 85 and the company’s single trip policies will have no upper age limit from March 2016.
2. Are existing medical conditions covered?
Many general providers, including the major high street banks, will not cover you for pre-existing medical conditions as standard or will charge a hefty premium, so specialist providers are most likely to give you the best deal. While it pays to shop around, be sure to question how much you are covered for should you need emergency medical assistance. Staysure research found over-50s spend an average of £1,700 a year for unexpected medical bills abroad, which they aren’t covered for by their policy, with some hospital bills reaching tens of thousands of pounds.* Staysure’s Comprehensive Travel insurance covers medical emergency and repatriation of up to £10m.
3. What length of trip is covered?
Many travellers, particularly those enjoying retirement, will plan extended stays abroad or visit multiple destinations, so it’s important to know the exact duration an insurer consider’s to be single trip – even as part of an annual policy. For the high street banks, this is usually 31 days. If you’re planning a longer trip, it’s worth shopping around and considering a specialist insurer for older travellers. In comparison, Staysure offers 50 days as standard as part of its Comprehensive annual cover.
4. What else is excluded?
After age and medical conditions there is a plethora of things that may not be covered as standard but you may wish to purchase as add-ons to your policy – so always check before you purchase. This can include anything from loss of baggage, winter sports activities, unexpected accommodation costs, travel delays, missed departures, legal cover and golf equipment cover.
5. What will I need if I have to make a claim?
This is important to know before you travel and policies vary depending on your insurer. Check your policy wording to find out if you’ll need to take any specific steps before making a claim and always call the claims line as soon as you need any medical help, to ensure you can be guided to the best medical facility in your area.