Do you consider yourself a young, happy-go-lucky traveler who prefers to save as much money as possible so you can see more of the sights and experience more of the country? Or a mature, cautious visitor who cares about the good things in life and prefers to take a more luxurious approach to travel? I see myself in the first group – I love to explore new cultures and see as much as my dollar will allow – but I’m far from a teenager. Reading this report in the ITIJ started me thinking about whether age matters when talking about travel preferences and risk-taking on vacation.
Recent research shows that the gap between younger, less experienced travelers and the older traveling crowd is large when it comes to purchasing travel insurance. The article talks about research from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ABTA – the British travel industry association – and the over-50s insurers Saga. This research shows that young travelers are least likely to travel with insurance.
According to the figures, half of all 15- to 24-year-olds regularly go abroad without purchasing travel insurance. However, older travelers are not completely secure, either. Research from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office showed 10 percent of the over-50s had gone on vacation without insurance in the last five years. These figures were concerned with UK travelers. In the US, around 80 percent of retirees buy travel insurance while nearly 44 percent of young Canadians (aged 18 to 34) bought none.
Young travelers tend to downplay the risks associated with traveling abroad, to themselves and to their long-suffering parents. By choosing not to take out travel insurance they are trying to save money for “more important” aspects of travel like accommodation, food, and fun. Older travelers – so the story goes – are more aware of the risks and less willing to put themselves in danger by traveling without insurance. Older travelers are assumed to have more money, so an insurance policy represents a small percentage of their total vacation spend.
But the problem with these reports is they generalize wildly. Older travelers often don’t think about the risks involved in a trip to a European capital city. Some young travelers are super-cautious when it comes to planning their journeys. Plus, travel preferences are increasingly blurred along the generational lines. Fifty-year-olds go bungee jumping and 20-somethings take art history tours. The problem of traveling without insurance crosses generations, countries and genders. The article talks about the problem of holidaymakers who travel without insurance as a global one. The truth is, older and younger travelers need to think about what kind of insurance they need based on their activities and destinations, not their age.
For example, the young-at-heart (whether that’s a fresh-faced teen or a wrinkly retiree) need comprehensive cover for adventure sports – skiing, hiking, snowboarding, jet skiing, diving and other active pursuits. Those travelers who go off-the-beaten track also need to consider emergency evacuation insurance for when their travels take them far from medical facilities.
For the mature, more careful traveler who spends a lot of money on a vacation there are different insurance priorities. Baggage cover becomes essential, as does insurance for a hire car or for trip cancellation. Putting down a lot of money as a deposit for a cruise or a safari makes trip cancellation insurance a must for this demographic.
Age matters somewhat when it comes to travel but it is increasingly difficult to define travel preferences, and uptake of travel insurance, based on how old a traveler is. All travelers should think about insurance because it is better to be safe than sorry – whether you are an experienced voyager or a happy-go-lucky vacationer.