Find the Perfect Travel Insurance without breaking the Bank
Have you been abroad recently? Then you might be aware that finding good travel insurance that doesn’t cost a fortune can become tricky as you get older. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this guest post, travel insurance specialists World First share tips on how you can find a senior travel insurance policy that’s perfect for both your holiday and your budget.
You can have the trip of a lifetime at any age. But some older travellers find it difficult to unleash their inner adventurer. And all too often, travel insurance troubles are to blame. Here are some tips on what to look out for next time you’re choosing a policy, whether you’re planning on dancing in Damascus or mingling in Madeira.
Don’t go anywhere without good medical cover. The most important part of any travel insurance policy is the medical cover. Without it, you could face large medical bills if you have an accident while you’re away. Of course, when there’s a holiday to enjoy no one likes to think of the unexpected. But knowing you have reliable medical cover in place will give you the peace of mind you need to travel in confidence. That’s important. So what does good medical cover look like?
Well, try to look past the basic cover for medical expenses. Does your policy cover the loss or theft of medication? (Prescriptions can be pricey abroad!) Some insurers also offer access to emergency helplines that are available 24/7. It’s important that you trust your travel insurer to be there when you need them most. What if you are travelling with a medical condition? The point at which many travellers begin to run in to problems when searching for senior travel insurance is when they have to get cover for a pre-existing medical condition. Even if your condition is relatively minor, telling your insurer about it can cause your premium to rocket. Some insurers may even refuse to cover you if your condition is seen as ‘high risk’.
Given these problems, you can see why some travellers are tempted not to declare their medical conditions. But please – and we can’t stress this enough – never try to get away with it. Many travel insurers will look at your medical records if you make a claim. If they find out you were travelling with a condition that you didn’t tell them about, they could invalidate your entire policy. So what should you do given that insuring a medical condition can be so pricey? Shop around. There are insurers out there who will cover your conditions without destroying your holiday budget.
Can you trust your travel insurer? Your travel policy might look rock solid at a glance. But can you be sure it won’t crumble if you have to make a claim? Fortunately, you don’t need to wait to find out. Your insurer’s claims procedure will be included in their Policy Wording, which should be available on their website. Alternatively you can ask them to go through it with you over the phone.
It's also worth spending twenty minutes going through the restrictions section of the Policy Wording. Of course, they’re far from the most thrilling reads. But it’s worth the time to find out exactly where you stand with your insurer. We’ve heard too many horror stories of travellers being caught out by small print or difficult claims procedures.
Look for in-house claims teams and 24 hour availability, both online and by phone. You may also want to do a little research on the reputation of your insurer’s underwriter. In the unlikely event that you do need to claim, you should expect a fast, sympathetic and effective service. No quibbles.
Price comparison websites: good or bad? Price comparison websites are big business these days. It’s almost impossible to get through a day of television without being told to compare something or another by a rowdy advert. But can these websites really help you save money? Perhaps not. Price comparison websites take a large slice of the insurer’s profits when they sell a policy. So a lot of insurers bump up their premiums to maintain their profit margin. Surprised? So are a lot of people. But next time you find a policy you like on a price comparison website, it could be worth visiting that insurer directly to get another quote. You might find it’s a little cheaper. Of course, not all insurers are even listed on price comparison websites.
Spending an extra 30 minutes shopping around can be extremely worthwhile. Visit our website for more great tips on how to choose the perfect travel insurance policy.
Renting a holiday house/villa for three generations
I thought I’d kick off this section with my own recommendations for renting a house/villa for a family summer holiday. We’re in the fortunate position of having a holiday home in France and since we’ve had grandchildren they’ve visited us for a couple of holidays with their parents. We also rent out our house during August – so I have an idea, as both a guest and a renter, what to look for.
When mixing three generations, the priority must be enough space for you all to sleep comfortably and separately! We’re lucky enough to have two main sleeping areas – one upstairs and one down and this means that our son and daughter-in-law can have privacy and quiet on one floor while we use the other. This has taught me how important it is, if possible, to try to ensure the bedrooms aren’t all clustered closely together. No one is going to get a lie in or an uninterrupted night, if you’re all cheek by jowl.
Hugh Atkins of Pure France recommends going for the largest property you can afford, and hunting out properties that have separate sleeping areas, such as in adjacent converted barns, so that different sleeping patterns can be accommodated. We like to give the parents a good rest when they come to us, so we get up for the early morning shift and try to play quietly with the little ones and give them breakfast while their parents get a lie in. So it’s also helpful if the kitchen and living areas are somewhat separated from the bedrooms. But other grandparents might want to take the quietest rooms for themselves to ensure they get the good sleep they require.
After breakfast, we often take the children for a walk to the local playground to run off some energy while it’s still reasonably cool. We’re lucky enough to have a pool area quite separate from the house and this too, I feel is important. I’m not happy minding two small children on my own (or even with Michael) around the pool, so the fact that it’s not immediately visible from the house means we can distract the children with other activities until we’re all ready to congregate around the pool and there are two adults per child. So, my recommendation is to look for a house which has a pool away from the house so that the kids aren’t constantly clamouring to swim before it’s convenient for everybody. Often in the south of France holiday homes have summer kitchens by the pool, often fully equipped although sometimes just a sink and BBQ; they are a godsend if you can find one.
Hugh though begs to differ on the positioning of the pool: ‘For some families, a pool that’s visible from the house provides greater security than one that’s set apart. It’s all a matter of personal preference.’
Safety is obviously a huge concern when there’s a swimming pool. Under French law every pool has to have either its own alarm, or be fenced off with a gate that’s too high for children’s little arms. But be aware that other countries may not be so particular and find out before you book what kind of security is in operation around your pool. We basically live by the pool all day long so as to ensure there are always several adults around.
Hugh Atkins also suggests ensuring there are no steep steps or rocky paths in the garden. Some holiday homes offer swings, table tennis, garden chess: all useful for keeping different ages amused. Some may have toys and board games. So ask before you book. I’ve had some odd requests in the past but like all owners am always happy to answer any questions. Our lettings agency suggests we provide a cot and a high chair but not the bedding, so again, check before you leave home.. A good agency will know their houses well and be able to help with most of your questions, and should also be able to inform you of the likely local weather. Some areas can be far too hot for very young children in high season; some properties offer air-conditioning, others simply fans. And it goes without saying, of course, that it’s best to book with a bonded agent/company.
It’s also a good idea to research what there is to do in the local area.
We think another important element of a good family holiday is a village that you can walk to for the fresh bread that’s so vital to a good holiday abroad: we’re lucky in that our village also sells English newspapers and has a good butcher and mini-mart.
It’s a lovely safe environment for children too, so much so that older ones could quite happily walk into the village on their own for an ice cream or to buy bread, and experience that idyllic freedom that’s been lost to so many of our children in their communities at home.
We like to encourage our grandchildrens’ parents to go off in the evenings for some quiet time alone. So restaurants nearby are important, or a hire car is a must. Indeed unless you own a people carrier, a second car is a must on a holiday like this. And although it’s fun shopping locally, we all need the occasional trip to a supermarket for boring things like loo rolls and nappies, so find out how near those are too.
If we’re thinking about holidays in the UK when the weather might not be that reliable, it’s probably quite important to find out if your holiday home has wi-fi and a television – and what kind of tv package, so that you can be sure the men in your family can watch their favourite sports channels and the kids can have CBeebies. And if you’re going off-season, you’ll want to know if the owners provide wood for that welcoming-looking log fire you’ve seen in the brochure pictures!
Naomi Tarry of Best of Suffolk says people are increasingly booking holiday homes for reunions, anniversaries and even Christmas nowadays. And because these often include three different generations, she’s used to requests for downstairs bedrooms and bathrooms, stair-gates, high chairs and cots. She suggests it’s vital to think ahead about what you’re going to do when you get there: do you want a house in a town or village where the grandparents can perhaps stay put whilst younger generations go off to the beach or the shops or for bike rides? Or are you hoping for a rural setting with just one country pub you can all walk to with buggies, and maybe a playground nearby for the kids? Or perhaps you’re simply going to want to stay put, in order to enjoy each others’ company, in which case make sure there’s plenty to do both in the house and garden. If there’s a pond, check whether it’s fenced off.
Another good tip from Naomi is to think about – and discuss - in advance how you’re going to divide up the responsibilitieswhen you arrive, so that the cooking, for instance, doesn’t all fall on one person’s shoulders. ‘It’s essential’, Naomi says, ‘to work out too, who’s bringing what. People increasingly make use of a local delivery service to supply fresh local produce. This works really well for not having to go shopping can take a lot of hassle out of the holiday.’
And the last word goes to Hugh of PureFrance: 'Make sure if you're after your dream house that you book early. You don't want to have to settle for second best because your perfect property has gone.' So, these are the tips I’ve gleaned so far.
I’d love to hear from you now.