Travel insurance trend: dumping the over-age-75 traveler?

By Wayne Wirtanen
This item appears on page 68 of the April 2000 issue.

Effective April 1999, TEN (Traveler’s Emergency Network; phone 800/275-4836) no longer provides emergency evacuation service for anyone over the age of 74.

Effective November 1999, one of Access America’s most popular travel insurance policies no longer waives the preexisting-medical-condition clause for the over-age-75 traveler. (Thanks to Noeline Kelly of Corpus Christi, TX, for the tip.)

Access America (800/284-8300) still has two other travel insurance programs that will waive the preexisting-condition clause with no age limit.

Signs of a trend?

According to Dan McGinnity of Travel Guard International, the topic of reducing or eliminating coverage to the over-age-75 traveler came up at a travel insurance seminar at the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) 69th World Travel Congress, Nov. 7-12, 1999, in Strasbourg, France.

McGinnity’s opinion was that there was no obvious indication of a trend to reduce coverage to the over-age-75 traveler; however, this was the first time that he had heard the issue being discussed.

Travel Guard International has no age restriction on any of its travel insurance policies.

Senior’s travel insurance costs

One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that as travelers become “more experienced,” they are increasingly likely to generate health-related travel insurance claims.

One approach that travel insurance companies are using to deal with this issue is to have an age-related cost structure.

While this is not an unreasonable approach, there are still travel insurance companies that do not have age-related costs for policies and, most importantly, will waive the preexisting-condition clause if a policy is purchased within a specified number of days of the first deposit on a trip, regardless of the purchaser’s age.

Companies with non-age-related policy costs

The following companies have a flat (non-age-related) cost schedule for policies, will waive the pre-existing-medical condition clause and carry no over-age-75 limitations:

Travel Assure (800/817-0818) will waive the preexisting-medical-condition clause if a policy is purchased within 10 days of the first trip deposit.

Travel Guard International (800/782-5151) will waive the clause if a policy is purchased within seven to 14 days, depending on which policy is purchased.

CSA Travel Protection (800/348-9505) allows 14 days within which to purchase a policy.

Companies with sliding-scale policy costs

The following companies have an age-related cost structure for their policies and will waive the preexisting-medical-condition clause, without any age limit: 

CSA Travel Protection allows 14 days for purchase of a policy. However, sometime this year their policy will change and you will then no longer have the option of getting a waiver if you are over the age of 80.

Travel Safe (800/234-0375) allows 14 days for purchase of a policy.

Guarantee of preexisting-condition waivers

Remember that the only way that you can be absolutely, positively guaranteed that you will have no unexpected problems with travel insurance services or costs related to a preexisting medical condition is to have (pre-trip) proof of having met the conditions for the insurance company’s preexisting-waiver terms.

Emergency medical evacuation-only services

The following companies provide emergency medical evacuation services with no preexisting medical condition restrictions and without any age limit:

Worldwide Assistance (800/821-2828) and International SOS (800/523-8662).

Compare before you buy

Insurance companies and evacuation service providers can, and do, change their policies’ costs and conditions with little or no notice.

Tour companies and cruise lines commonly offer travel insurance policies that include coverage details that have been drawn up to their specifications (and cost). These policies may or may not have the coverage and waivers that are available from other sources. I’d recommend that you ask for details of “in house” policies before purchase.

The sales brochure for these and other policies clearly outline what conditions are covered (and waived) in easily understood language. You have to take the time to read all of the text carefully to make sure that you get the coverage you need.

Happy trails!