LONDON, England / The Guardian / Money / Travel Insurance / May 21, 2011
Gnu Insurance offers cover for older travellers
with pre-existing conditions.
But you should still shop around
By Rupert Jones
Insurance for older travellers can be prohibitively expensive.
Photograph: Eamonn McCabe
We've had meerkats and the Churchill nodding dog – now it is gnus that are breaking into the insurance world. Gnu Insurance is a brand launching next week that will target older travellers, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.
People should definitely consider it for a quote, but Guardian Money's quick non-scientific price test suggests it will be pricey for some conditions.
Global financial giant Aegon came up with Gnu Insurance – which goes live on Thursday – after "spotting a gap in the market". It will offer single-trip cover with no upper age limit; annual multi-trip insurance for those up to age 85; and a new product for under-85s called Pay Per Day aimed at "the spontaneous holidaymaker". It says it can cover all pre-existing medical conditions, many at no extra cost.
In recent years, many older people have struggled to find firms willing to insure them for trips abroad, especially if they have current or past health issues. However, there are now more such companies than you might think, from big names such as Saga and Age UK to smaller players.
In a September 2009 Money article we highlighted a policy called EHICPlus which was unusual in not having an upper age limit for either single-trip or annual policies. Unfortunately, the terms have changed and there is now an upper age limit of 79 for both.
We had a quick look at what an older person with and without pre-existing conditions might pay. Using comparethemarket.com, we sought quotes for "Robert Jones," a Londoner looking for a basic single-trip policy for a week-long holiday in Europe in July. He will be 75 at the time of the trip.
Columbus Direct came out cheapest with its bronze policy costing £16.84. But what would happen if Jones had some pre-existing medical conditions? We declared two – cancer of the gallbladder and hypertension – and were pleasantly surprised to find these were both accepted. Our premium would rise to £62.86. However, this may have been down to the way we answered the questions about Robert's treatment.
How would Gnu Insurance fare with the same scenario? The quote Jones would receive online for its silver cover was £40.18, excluding medical conditions. The quote obtained via its call centre – including cover for gallbladder cancer and hypertension – would be a whopping £750. Which shows just how important it is to shop around.
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