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Can you get insurance over 55?

By Danielle van Wyk

Reaching the age of 55 is not only a milestone but it tends to also usher in a different era of your life. One where you are looking towards retirement and typically are in the process of reassessing your needs. But what if after reassessment you find you need additional insurance? Justmoney looks at whether or not you can still get insurance if you are over 55.

The short answer according to Lizette Erasmus, insurance expert at IntegriSure, is yes.

 “All types of insurance will allow you cover over the age of 55 years, affirms Tapuwa Mwashita, a representative from Insurance Busters. “However, depending on the insurer and the type of cover, there may be some special requests that the insurer may ask for in order to give you cover, or some limitations on the cover they may offer. “

Not only are they eligible, but according to Erasmus, they are seen as lower risk as they typically are more responsible and stable.

Of the popular and recommended insurance products are the general short term insurance offerings i.e. Home insurance, vehicle insurance, funeral insurance, all risk insurance and, due to the fact that this age group tends to travel quite a bit Erasmus highlights, travel insurance.

Long term insurance on the other hand seems to differ completely.

For Long Term insurance products, such as Life, Disability, Dread Disease and Funeral cover, age plays a big role in determining the risk attached to your cover. Older clients tend to be seen as having a higher risk rating than their younger counterparts. Hence it is very likely that if you are over 55, you can expect to pay a higher premium for the same amount of cover than someone in a similar situation who is below 55,” adds Mwashita.

But how do insurance offerings differ when you are over 55? “Due to the fact that IntegriSure sees people over 55 as a lower risk, this age group enjoys cheaper premiums and the option to structure their excess." This is also known as ‘The First Amount’, payable at time of a claim based on their personal needs and affordability.

-       First option

The client has the option to waive the basic excess in terms of their building, house contents and motor insurance by paying a small additional premium monthly.

-       Second option

Alternatively for those clients who have the financial means to carry a portion of the risk themselves can opt for an additional voluntary excess that is payable in addition to the basic excess. These client’s premiums will be reduced as they carry some of the risk themselves.

What should someone over the age of 55 look for in an insurance offering?

According to Erasmus, the following are key things to look for when shopping around for insurance, at this age in your life.

1. What does it cover me for? When looking to acquire insurance cover or wanting to change from one provider to another it is important that you’re fully aware of what it is you are paying for and getting, in order to make sure it is suited to your needs.

  1. Cover extensions: It is vital that you not only take note of the cover but the features and added benefits or extensions too.

“In the current economic climate people are focussed on cover and overlook the fact that it may not be as comprehensive. An example is the recent Knysna fires. In that case it would have been important to know if your cover includes the cost of demolishing a house after it has been burnt, or the cost of architects and engineers when you are looking to rebuild,” adds Erasmus.

3. Support services: In the event of something going wrong it becomes important to know that your insurance grants you access to the necessary support services.

4. Take me home services: In your twilight years you tend to not be able to do everything that you once did. So here it becomes necessary to know that should you need the added support your insurance has got you covered. When it comes to errands or being picked up or dropped off, it is handy to have the luxury of a ‘take me home’ service.

Should you consider self-insuring?

No matter your age, the nature of self-insuring is risky.

“I would not recommend self-insuring. If you’re in the position where you have assets in your name, and a huge loss that can be incurred it is simply too risky. If you’ve worked your entire life for something, the smart choice would be to insure it, because anything can happen,” Erasmus explains. 

Further when asked for her best piece of advice when navigating through insurance offerings, she says:” You need to understand the product back to front, and make sure to go with an insurance product and provider that is client centric.”

Mwashita however disagrees, “Self-insuring is another option that over 55’s can use to protect themselves against unexpected events. It is a good idea for everyone, regardless of age to have some sort of “emergency fund” that they can use in any situation. Even more so, for clients over 55, whose insurance premiums may be higher due to age or health, self-insurance is important. However, it is up to each person to weigh up the pros and cons of insurance vs self-insurance, and in some cases, consider a combination of them.”

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