This article was first published on 24th August 2018
No, I’m not dictating this from a beach. But, I am on holiday in Spain and writing this bulletin on my laptop!
I was prompted to write about the risks of holidays by my daughter renting a quad bike for the first time. Inevitably she fell off but fortunately landed on her boyfriend so no damage done (he’s OK too)!
It is not just the young who take risks on holiday. I am guessing that quite a few members of Booming Lives seek adventure on their holidays. A group of members and friends (including Sue and I) are off to Bali in October and will be scuba diving (earthquakes permitting)! Another couple are off to Croatia on a sailing holiday. And many of you will already be thinking of your next winter skiing holiday.
Most of us are in our 50s, 60’s and 70’s so no spring chickens! But, inspired by the likes of Dilys Price who at an age of 86 has completed 1,139 solo skydives and parachute jumps all over the world, we baby boomers press on with our booming lives, particularly in our choice of holidays.
It’s as if, leaving our safe home environment behind, we are driven to take more risk.
In search of the exotic we travel to remote corners of the world, climbing mountains, side-stepping scooters in Hanoi, eating local cuisine from street stalls, riding bikes, quad bikes and jetskis. We eat too much, drink too much and expose too much of our skin to the sun!
But what is life if we wrap ourselves in cotton wool and take no risks? As Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, said in response to the Lancet report issued this week and which concluded there is no safe level for drinking, “come to think of it, there is no safe level to living, but nobody would recommend abstention”.
I must read more of Professor Spiegelhalter’s work!
There is risk in everything we do. As a child we learn that crossing the road carries the risk of being knocked down and are taught how to mitigate those risks. Growing older and wiser, we build on these early lessons to avoid unwanted outcomes. We do make mistakes. Recently, my long experiences of assessing risk still didn’t stop me leaving the BBQ meat too close to the edge of the table – so close that our pet Beagle was able to snaffle the lot!
When it comes to risk, including those we take on holidays, we often turn to insurance to provide a safety net. Insurance companies employ experts in risk. It is their job to ensure the insurance company remains profitable whatever risk they underwrite.
But when it comes to holiday insurance, I think they should take a lesson from Professor Spiegelhalter.
Firstly, insurance should be available to all, regardless of age. Why are older people excluded from taking out some travel policies purely on age?
And secondly, embarking on adventurous holidays – diving, sailing, skiing etc – is indicative of a healthy lifestyle. Why penalise us by excluding such activities in the small print (which, be honest, we rarely read). Surely a sedentary lifestyle with the risk of obesity should be of much greater concern to insurance companies?
If your travel insurance is provided as a ‘benefit’ by your bank, you would do well to read the small print carefully. The cover may be at a very basic level and exclude many activities. I have heard of at least one policy that excludes anyone aged over 65!
If you are buying travel insurance, shop around – MoneySavingExpert has a good guide including a guide for the older traveller.