Thousands of over 50s at risk of huge medical bills on holiday

Thursday 2 October 2014

• 500,000 over 50s have been ill on holiday over last three years because of ongoing medical conditions • One in 10 have no travel insurance to claim on, while others discover they are not adequately covered by the policy they’ve bought • 16 million over 50s are suffering from ongoing or pre-existing medical conditions

Thousands of over 50s at risk of huge medical bills on holiday

Thousands of over 50s with existing medical issues are at risk of big hospital bills when abroad because they have no travel insurance cover or they have inadequate insurance that does not cover their conditions.

Research by Saga Travel Insurance shows that around 16 million over 50s have ongoing medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma or osteoarthritis and almost half a million of these people have become ill on holiday due to their condition in the last three years.*


However, one in 10 had no travel insurance to claim on, while close to one in 30 discovered they were not covered by their travel insurance policy because of their pre-existing conditions.

The survey of 10,000 over 50s shows that almost 30% consider factors such as price over whether the cover they get will meet their actual requirements. While many more over 50s take out travel cover than younger holiday makers (FCO data says that 48% of 15-24 year olds travel without cover) one in seven over 50s gamble with their health and finances by not taking out travel insurance.  


Roger Ramsden, chief executive, Saga Services, commented: “Whilst more older people tend to follow the advice of the Foreign Office and take out cover, it is concerning to see so many people travelling without adequate cover. 

"Also some may be travelling with a false sense of security as a quarter of those surveyed said they had travel insurance through their bank account, which could cause them quite a headache when it comes to making a claim.  Many travel insurance policies provided with bank accounts have an upper age limit of just 70 and they rarely cover pre-existing medical conditions as standard.  

"It is vital to check that you have the right cover without age exclusions and that you are covered for all your medical conditions or else you may find yourself nursing a huge financial hangover whilst you try and recuperate.


“With the typical cost of an insurance claim for an air ambulance to bring you back from the Canary Islands costing around £16,000 and around £45,000 if you happen to be in the USA, travel insurance provides vital cover for your health and wealth should anything happen when you are abroad.”

Saga prides itself on offering cover with no upper age limits and does not believe in offering cover excluding pre-exisiting medical conditions - ensuring that customers are properly covered and there are no nasty surprises when it comes to making a claim. Saga has been named ‘Recommended Provider’ for travel insurance by consumer magazine Which? and has been awarded a five star rating by Defaqto.


Notes to editors

*Populus interviewed 9,794 Saga customers, all aged 50+, online between 12 and 19 September 2014. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules; for more information see

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