Ageism in Travel Insurance 2012

About the Study

This project aims to examine whether older Australians face age discrimination when purchasing travel insurance products, through an understanding of their experiences with travel insurance and analysis of selected travel insurance offerings.

Two phases of consumer research were undertaken to explore the attitudes and experiences of older Australians to travel insurance.

Quantitative phase

The data for this phase were gathered from a survey of 7,500 National Seniors members (stratified by state/territory of residence) and approximately 6,100 COTA members which was conducted between 28 May and 18 June 2012. The survey was designed to collect detailed data on attitudes, experiences and behaviour.

Qualitative phase

Each organisation sought qualitative data from its members, guided by a set of agreed questions. Members from each organisation were invited to contact their respective organisation if they believed they had been denied travel insurance; asked to pay excessive premiums because of their age, rather than their health; or had a claim denied because of age-related issues.

Key Findings

Older Australians are frequent travellers, particularly to overseas destinations, and they are travelling, and expecting to continue to travel, well into their 80s and 90s.

Our quantitative findings showed that: 

  • Those aged 70 and over were more likely to cite difficulties in obtaining travel insurance or affordable travel insurance as a major reason for ceasing to travel overseas. 
  • While the vast majority of respondents (88%) usually purchase travel insurance for their overseas travel, half (51%) were unaware that Australia has reciprocal health agreements with a number of countries. 
  • Less than half the respondents (44%) shopped around for the best travel insurance deal. 
  • More than half the respondents (53%) had received widely differing quotes for the cost of travel insurance, with most reporting a difference of between 11 and 50 per cent. 
  • Almost a third of respondents (32%) reported that they have had to pay higher travel insurance premiums because of their age. 
  • Five per cent of respondents reported they had been refused travel insurance because of their age, but two-thirds of them (68%) still decided to travel overseas. 
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) have difficulty in understanding how any age restrictions operate after reading through information provided by insurers in Product Disclosure Statements, brochures and websites. 
  • One in twenty respondents (5%) reported they had had a travel insurance claim unexpectedly denied.