/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Money matters: how to get the best value travel insurance

Older person throwing paper aeroplane

Travel insurance is often the last thing you think about when you’re planning a getaway. But leaving it last minute, especially if you’re an older traveller, can cost you dearly.

Our research has found that once you hit the age of 65, your insurance premiums can almost double. And it doesn’t stop there – the older you get, the pricier your premium becomes. At age 80, you could see your premiums doubling once again.

To complicate things further, standard travel insurance policies will ramp up your premiums even further if you have a serious medical condition – a factor we all have to consider as we approach our later years.

Travel insurance medical cover

Our members often tell us that one of their most essential travel insurance features is the medical cover it offers. Our Best Rate travel insurance policies have to include a minimum £5m of medical expenses (for a worldwide policy) so that you’re fully covered if you find yourself falling ill in a far off place where hospital costs can spiral.

My best advice would be to – as the old adage goes – shop around. Make sure you’ve done your homework before picking a policy and do it in plenty of time. This will ensure that you have all the cover you need without breaking the bank.

Help with a travel insurance query

One of our members recently wrote to us saying that they’d been stung by leaving their travel insurance to the last minute. But they had a further question – is it possible to strip out the non-essential features of a travel insurance policy to keep what’s most important to them – the medial cover?

‘My wife and I are 83 and regularly holiday in France. Hurriedly arranged insurance recently cost us £213, including £80 for declared and accepted medical conditions. But we found we were also paying to insure against non-medical hazards (such as loss of luggage) we’re prepared to forego. Can we get EHIC top-up insurance to give medical cover?’

So, what could our member do to cut down their travel insurance costs in the future? Tell us your thoughts below and we’ll come back with the Which? verdict in a couple of weeks’ time.

Abee says:
28 June 2013

Are there any providers who provide home insurance cover for absences longer than 60 or 90 days? As a retiree, I would like to be able to take extended holidays overseas. Will having someone pop in to my house regularly get around the “continuous period of absence” obstacle with conventional home insurance policies?

Barbara Lowe says:
4 July 2013

In answer to your query about leaving your home for more than 60/90 days, we are insured with Camping and Caravan Club and their house and buildings insurance will allow you away from home for 180 days. I think that is great. You can come home for a couple of days after that and then go for another 180 days if you wish, Hope this helps.

Abee says:
5 July 2013

Many thanks for sharing your experience. That is most helpful.


The trouble with Travel Insurance is it’s marketed by Price not extent of Cover.
You really have to decide what you want covered and then read the small print, especially with things like missed departures: eg own car breaks down or has an accident okay, car in front has an accident and blocks motorway “no cover” !


EHIC alone is not enough for going abroad. It only covers state-funded hospitals, and I don’t know about you but I would not want to be queuing for treatment in a tin pot hospital in Croatia. I find that a good annual policy will do the job – if you shop around you’ll get a decent price, and all the extras as an added bonus!


I don’t want the cheapest. I want the best value for money. It isn’t the same thing.


You’re right lessismore, it is about value and not just the cheapest. I’ve tweaked the title.


I have a medical condition – diagnosed in 2008 – and am nearing 60 so travel insurance is difficult to find at a reasonable price. I have tried specialist medical travel insurance companies companies but they are extortionate. They would probaby offer better cover in the event of a medical problem but the price is offputting. My condition is controlled by medication and I have not had a problem in almost five years, but the insurance companies do not take that into account when setting their rates.

I hope the Which? verdict covers this area of travel insurance as well as basic travel insurance.

Abee says:
3 July 2013

I got a policy through Staysure where pre-existing illnesses are covered.