Senior citizen travel insurance is becoming more and more popular. Considering the different risk factors that govern senior travellers, insurance companies have come up with specific travel insurance policies that cover these citizens and allow them to travel around the world without any worry. However, as with every insurance policy, it is essential to know the details about senior citizen travel insurance policies before they buy a policy for themselves.
In this article, we will try to understand and answer a few questions that you may have about senior citizen travel insurance.
For ease of reference, we have divided the topics under the following heads:
The senior citizen travel insurance plans generally refer to individual travel insurance plans that are available for elderly travellers aged 71 years and beyond. The age limit varies depending on the insurer and different companies may have different age limits for similar plans. For instance, some may offer plans that start at an earlier age than 71, while some may provide insurance even up to 99 years and beyond.
As mentioned, these plans are specifically created by insurance companies to cater to the elderly and take into account various age and health-related risk factors that are not covered under the standard individual travel insurance policies. These policies cover pre-existing ailments and provide various hospitalisation and medical benefits including intensive care treatment, doctor visits, ambulance services, surgical care, and many more in addition to the standard covers for baggage loss, flight delays cancellations, among others.
Most Western countries and Australia need tourists to have travel insurance before they are granted a visa. A senior citizen travel insurance plan helps the individual to get a policy that suits his or her specific needs and at the same time meet the statutory requirements of the visiting country.
Most senior citizens need certain specific covers in addition to the standard travel protections. Some types of cover provided by senior citizen travel insurance policies in India include:
Pre-existing illnesses cover: This protects against any medical treatment expenses incurred due to pre-existing conditions that the traveller was already suffering from before going on his or her holiday. This will cover any expenses incurred for treatment of these illnesses including visiting a doctor or costs incurred on medications during the trip.
Emergency medical expenses: Guards against any medical expenses incurred by the traveller while on a holiday due to an unforeseen emergency. This may include minor or major medical emergencies and cover risks from injuries, illnesses and even death.
Medical evacuation expenses: In certain instances, the senior citizen may have to travel back to India due to medical reasons. These may be due to emergencies or because the country he or she is visiting does not have the same level of treatment or healthcare service. This specific cover will allow the traveller to be reimbursed for the expenses incurred (generally up to a specific limit) during the evacuation.
Dental treatment: This helps the senior citizen to get reimbursement for costs incurred on visiting a dentist in the foreign country. Some insurance companies may provide it as an optional cover instead of a regular part of a senior citizen travel plan.
Flight cancellation, delay, or missed flights: Similar to covers in individual travel plans, these help the senior citizen to get reimbursement for any additional costs incurred due to cancelled or delayed flights or in the event of a missed flight.
Baggage loss: The senior citizen travel insurance plans also protect against any baggage losses. While a baggage loss is quite problematic for the normal traveller, it can be quite traumatic for the senior citizen as the baggage may contain medications and other healthcare and wellness aids, the absence of which would affect their daily lives. Most insurance providers in India recognise this problem and provide reimbursement for any baggage losses suffered by the senior citizen.
Trip cancellation, interruption or delay: Most senior citizen insurance plans provide some sort of reimbursement for any cancellations, interruptions or delays in the trip. The policy document generally contains details on what is defined under these specific terms, and you can do well to read the fine print to understand what is covered and what is not under the definitions.
Personal liability and financial emergency assistance: Most senior travel insurance policies provide reimbursement for personal liabilities that may arise during the trip, as well as for any financial emergency assistance that may be required by the senior individual on a foreign trip.
Home burglary cover: Many insurance companies provide some sort of cover against any burglaries that may occur at home while the person is away. In most cases, this is provided as an optional rider instead of a mandatory cover.
Now that we know what are the primary covers provided by insurance companies in senior citizen travel insurance plans, let’s look at certain important criteria to decide which plan to buy.
This is the most important criteria to decide which plan to buy. Most insurance companies provide a break-up of the sum assured for specific covers. For instance, they will have a limit for medical expenses, another limit for dental care, yet another for baggage loss and so on. These are called ‘sublimits’ in industry parlance and limit the amount the insurance company will pay in case any reimbursement is claimed against that particular head. Senior citizens or their families must consider these ‘sublimits’ when they buy a policy.
To take an example, it may make sense to get more cover for medical expenses when the senior citizen is visiting his or her children in the foreign country instead of getting an increased cover for say, trip cancellation. Along similar lines, if there are people staying in their home in India, opting for home burglary cover does not make sense. On the other hand, if there is no one at home, opting for the home burglary rider is a good idea.
Some insurers do not need the senior citizen to undergo medical checkups if they are below a certain age. Nonetheless, the traveller should ensure that all necessary tests, if required, are complete. This will ensure that there are no chances of the claim being rejected on the grounds of necessary tests not being done. Also, plans that need mandatory medical tests are better as the insurers are more likely to honour the claims and reimburse the insured senior citizen more promptly.
Senior citizen insurance buyers must ensure that all their existing illnesses are covered under the plan. Certain travel plans may not cover all the pre-existing ailments in which case they are unlikely to reimburse any expenses incurred for these illnesses in the foreign country. Also, some plans provide very limited cover for serious ailments. As such, travellers or their children must ensure that the limit for such illnesses is adequate to cover any medical treatment abroad, if the need arises.
Some insurers do not renew the policy if a claim is made during the policy period. One way to get around this hurdle is to apply for the maximum policy period so that the same policy can continue without the senior citizen losing the claim to additional covers as and when the need arises.
Most policies exclude certain medical or healthcare costs such as those for general checkups, and regular medications, among others. These are generally listed at the end of the policy document. The senior citizen or their family members should check this and make sure there are no exclusions or limitations on covers that are necessary for him or her. Calling the insurer and asking specific questions on the list of exclusions and limitations, if any, on the covers provided will shed more light on these specifics and will help decide the best plan to buy.
All insurance providers give detailed information on their websites as mandated by the Insurance Regulatory Authority of India (IRDAI). However, most of this information is in technical terms and generally not very easy to understand. Senior citizens must ensure that they:
These pointers will help the elderly traveller to get the right senior citizen travel insurance plan for himself or herself. Considering the fact that most elderly citizens are not very net-savvy, it will be good if their family member helps them in the process of selecting the right plan.