Insurance companies refuse to cover older holidaymakers

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Holidaymakers aged 65 or over are often required to pay more for travel insurance, or are denied cover altogether – and a new law could make the situation even worse.

Some insurers already refuse to cover retired travellers, while others charge three times the usual amount to people over the age of 65.

Age charities have now warned that the situation could get worse next year when the government passes legislation on age discrimination that will require insurers to price policies based on demonstrable risk but will not stop them putting age limits on policies.

According to the consumer watchdog Which?, a quarter of insurers that offer annual travel policies already refuse to sell cover to people in their 60s. Only eight per cent of companies insure people aged over 80, and 95 per cent of all insurers have a cap on the age of those they will insure.

These rules are particularly troublesome given that retirees are travelling in greater numbers than ever before.

A survey by Gnu, the specialist travel insurer for the over-fifites, almost half of people over 50 are planning to travel outside of Europe this year, with 72 per cent going on holiday abroad.

Another survey by insurer LV estimates that 1.6 million people over 50 have taken 'grey gap years' in the last five years.

Older people are also unable to make use of travel insurance included in packaged bank accounts: Nationwide and Santander cap the policies at 64 and 65, Barclays and Natwest at 70 and Lloyds TSV at 80.

Roger Ramsden, chief executive of Saga Services, says: 'Arbitrary upper age limits are not acceptable. Many banks are withdrawing their travel insurance purely on the grounds of age, regardless of the health of the individual.'

Which? also found that 18 insurers double premiums overnight when customers turn 65 or 66, including the AA, Debenhams, the Post Office, Halifax and Sheilas' Wheels.

Insurers charge for policies based on perceived risk and, as older customers are more likely to have pre-existing conditions and poor health, they are deemed to be a high-risk group.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimates that customers aged over 65 are three times more likely to make a travel insurance claim that those aged 35, and those over 85 are eight times more likely to make a claim.

There are specialist insurers for older people, including Saga, Gnu and Staysure, but these tend to be more expensive than mainstream providers.

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