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Lost luggage, trip cancellation, medical emergency

Senior Travel Insurance

Everyone over the age of 65 should buy senior travel insurance, In fact, anyone of any age should carry the coverage, yet almost no one does. If you've managed to get by without it, consider yourself lucky. But you should also consider yourself gambling.

There are many reasons why people don't buy travel insurance. First of all, as you're planning your trip, you probably aren't dwelling on all the things that could go wrong. You may also think that good planning mitigates the need for insurance, and to some extent, this is true.

You may already be stretching those vacation dollars and purchasing insurance may require you to forgo other much more agreeable things, such as an extra night in the hotel or a better cabin on the cruise.

I've done the same thing many times: I don't think about the downside. I don't do things that are risky, and I hope for the best.

But when it comes to senior travel insurance, it really should be a no-brainer. We have to admit that the likelihood of some sort of medical misadventure increases with age, and it's likely to take longer for seniors to bounce back from either the physical or financial consequences of a trip gone bad.

There is a good side to purchasing senior travel insurance even if you never need it: with a good policy and adequate coverage in place, you'll  be able to relax and enjoy your trip with greater peace of mind. That's got to be worth something!

OK, so if were going to buy travel insurance where do we start. There are different types of plans available, and choices to be made about which services to include and how much coverage to purchase. Let's look at these one by one.

The Different Types of Travel Insurance

There are basically two types: an annual “set it and forget it” plan and  short term, single-trip plans you take out as needed.

Annual Plans. 
For those who love to travel and are constantly on the move, the annual plan is a good, safe and cost-effective option. These are not intended for a specific trip or time of year, and the services included don't change unless you specifically instruct the carrier to do so.

The advantage to such a plan is that once you set it up and incorporate the monthly fee into your budget, you can basically forget about it. Should you decide to pack up and head off the Mongolia on a moment's notice, you're covered.

The disadvantage, of course, is that you may be buying a lot more insurance than you will ever need, especially if circumstances or preferences change and you cut back on your travel activities.

Single Trip Plans
If you are less peripatetic and only travel occasionally, then a simple plan that provides coverage just for the time you are away make more sense. Be careful, however. If you stay past your original return date, or you begin to travel throughout the year, extend your coverage or change to an annual plan.

Choosing the Right Services
Most companies offer a basic plan with fairly standard coverage, but it's important to read the fine print. For a truly worry-free vacation, make sure your plan includes the following:

Trip Cancellation Insurance.  This kicks in if the airline of hotel cancels your reservation through no fault of your own.

This occurred last season when a sizable Canadian tour company suddenly went belly-up. Hundreds of tourists, many of them in Cancun, whose packages were bought and paid for found themselves turned out of their hotels, because the company had not paid the bill. Many of these stranded travelers were forced to pick up the tab themselves, and those without insurance needed to wait some time before the Mexican government stepped in and provided reimbursement.

Theft.  Sad but true: throughout the world gringo travelers are very often the victims of choice for pickpockets and thieves (though my only serious loss occurred after returning to the states when someone lifted my Nikon at JFK!). Take out enough insurance to cover the replacement value of the items you take with you.

Loss of Baggage.  Another huge potential headache, which can be effectively medicated with good insurance coverage. Again, take out enough insurance to pay for replacing clothing and other valuable should the need arise. Bear in mind that if you have to buy under duress you aren't going to be bargain hunting, and if you're in a resort area, prices are probably higher than where you shop at home.

Medical / Health Insurance. Very often travel insurance for seniors is actually lower because seniors are less likely to engage in risky behavior than, say, spring breakers on a week-long bacchanal. This is not going to be true, generally, with medical coverage. IT pays to shop around for the best policy. Also, be forthcoming about prior conditions, prescription drugs, etc. If there's bad news, you want to hear it before leaving home.

There really should be no question about whether or not to purchase senior travel insurance if you're heading away from home and especially if you plan to leave the country. But there are plenty of questions to consider about the type of policy and the kinds of coverage to include. So, put aside an afternoon sometime before heading out and get it done. It's a small investment in your own peace of mind on the road.

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