Older travellers are increasingly heading online for travel insurance to avoid paying hundreds of dollars extra for age-based premiums, according to a leading insurer.
Australia’s largest online travel insurer Travel Insurance Direct said it had experienced a 15 per cent increase in the portion of its customers aged 60 and over during the past two years.
General Manager Ian Jackson said some of Australia’s most popular over-the-counter insurance policies were more than twice as expensive as online policies for travellers aged 60 and over. As an example, a policy covering a 60-year-old for a two-week holiday in the US purchased online through Travel Insurance Direct would cost $143, while a policy with comparable benefits purchased through a major travel agency chain could cost almost $300.
“Travellers are routinely being told they need to pay hundreds of dollars more than they should, simply because of their age,” Mr Jackson said. “Others are being charged extra for pre-existing medical conditions that are relatively routine and should be covered for no additional cost.”
He said mature travellers now represented 20 per cent of Travel Insurance Direct’s customers.
“The perception that older travellers aren’t comfortable shopping online simply isn’t true,” Mr Jackson said. “We’re seeing a clear migration to online policies as older travellers find they can get a much cheaper policy on the internet with the same standard of cover or better.”
Mr Jackson said while all insurers charged higher premiums for older travellers, reflecting a higher incidence of medical expenses, some were charging hundreds of dollars more for policies that could be purchased online for only slightly more than policies offered to younger travellers.
“The real sting is often the extra premium for existing medical conditions,” Mr Jackson said. ”A lot of routine conditions like high blood pressure, asthma and high cholesterol attract no extra premium with our policies, but others will slug an extra cost even if you’re otherwise perfectly healthy.”
Mr Jackson said it was important for travellers aged 60 and older to shop around, compare prices and check charges for pre-existing medical conditions.
“Unfortunately there are times when an extra premium for pre-existing conditions will be unavoidable, but it’s really important to declare these conditions and make sure you’re fully covered, because the consequences of getting caught overseas without adequate cover can be thousands of dollars in costs for which you are responsible,” Mr Jackson said. “If you have any doubts, talk to your doctor and then get the advice of your insurer.”
Travel Insurance Direct is Australia’s number one online travel insurer and offers comprehensive travel insurance at highly competitive prices, particularly when compared with large travel agents. For more information see www.travelinsurancedirect.com.au