Travel Insurance

Janelle Spence's Travel Chatter for mature travellers.

Have you planned your next holiday or trip overseas? If not, you had better get started, and if you have any questions before you take off, then please send them through.

I would like to thank all the readers for their interest and support of the column. We have had an increasing amount of questions on all travel related issues but the main topic seems to be travel insurance. Once you reach that wonderful 70 years, you are deemed to have all sorts of medical problems even if you never visit a doctor. But all is not lost, there is cover available.

Automatic cover is given for certain conditions if they are controlled, such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and epilepsy, to name a few. In fairness to the insurance companies, they have been forced to put some restrictions in place, as the cost of claims from the over 70s is very high and continues to increase.

Passengers 70 - 74 years who are fit and well and have no pre-existing medical conditions to be covered can take insurance with no doctor's certificates or extra forms to be completed. There is approximately 50% surcharge on the premiums but no restrictions on the amount of cover.

For travel to the USA (which has the highest medical costs), there is a limit of coverage up to 8 weeks. If travel is for a longer time then you can apply for the extra cover by completing a medical assessment form and having it reviewed by the insurance company. Travel to the UK and Europe has a limit of up to 3 months and again, you can apply for an extended time.

To apply for cover of pre-existing medical conditions, complete an assessment form which is submitted to the insurance company for approval. If accepted, a surcharge will apply but you will then have full coverage for any eventuality whilst travelling. Even travellers under 70 have to apply if they want cover for a pre-existing medical condition and pay the surcharge if accepted.

Restricted cover is also available for passengers 75 - 79 years and 80 - 84 years of age. I am happy to discuss these conditions with anyone who wishes to contact me.

When travelling in Australia there is no age restriction. If your claim is not related to a pre-existing condition, you have full coverage for cancellation, additional expenses, luggage, rental car excess, special events, personal liability etc. All medical and hospital is covered by Medicare or your own private health fund.

There also is an option of a cancellation only policy. For as little as $9 you are covered for arrangements up to $200. If you become ill and cannot continue your journey, you can claim cancellation costs and additional expenses such as airline charges to change a ticket.

It all seems a bit daunting but it really isn't too bad. The main thing to ensure is you have adequate cover when travelling. An uninsured mishap will not only spoil your holiday but will have a terrible effect on your financial situation. If you have any queries please don't hesitate to contact me.