Australian Travel Insurance FAQ
Travel insurance is the one thing you should never leave home without. Sure it's boring ... until you need it, and then you wish you'd read the details more carefully! The first step in deciding if you need to take out any travel insurance is to assess the likelihood of risk, be it financial, physical, or both, that will apply to the travel you are undertaking. Then you can decide what level of cover is appropriate.
So what are some of the things to consider in deciding the appropriate level of travel insurance cover?
Hospitals & Medical Expense
If there is one reason to buy travel insurance, this is it. You should protect yourself against hospital or medical bills incurred while travelling, especially outside of Australia. Private hospital costs in most overseas countries run into thousands of dollars per day. A medical evacuation back to Australia can easily exceed $100,000.
If the accident, injury or illness is serious you'll want the insurance to cover the cost of your return home using commercial airlines or a network of private medical evacuation aircraft in an extreme case.
The cost of a travel insurance policy is small change when compared to draining the family finances or having to re-mortgage the house to bring a loved one home. Some important things to look for in this part of the travel insurance policy are:
- Unlimited hospital and medical cover.
- Cover for an emergency evacuation.
- Provision for a relative to accompany you if you're ill or injured and travelling alone.
- Cover for emergency dental work.
- Cover for pre-existing medical conditions or pregnancy.
Take your time to read the policy wording carefully, particularly the exclusions. The hospital and medical cover of a policy stops when you return home.
The loss of, or damage to, your luggage and personal effects while travelling is one of the most common reasons for travel insurance claims. Theft from unsupervised baggage carousels is becoming more prevalent in certain locations. The loss of luggage can result in a considerable financial outlay to replace the lost items. With suitable travel insurance cover, you can start replacing the lost items almost immediately while still travelling.
Always read the policy wording before you buy travel insurance and understand what is covered. Expensive items such as laptop computers and cameras may have a limit on the amount that can be claimed.
Some important things to look for in this part of the travel insurance policy:
- Are there individual item limits?
- Are you covered if your luggage is stolen from your hotel room?
- Are you covered if your luggage is stolen from the boot of a locked car?
- Does the policy cover loss of cash?
Cancellations & Curtailment
Consider if your policy needs to cover financial loss should you have to cancel or cut short a trip due to unforeseen circumstances. How much will you lose if you break your leg a week before your trip, or have to return home mid way through a trip to attend to a sick relative?
What will you lose if you have paid for everything but suddenly you can't go on the trip due to a serious illness/accident involving a close relative?
Will you be covered for loss of non-refundable deposits and any costs paid in advance if you cancel before departure due to illness or injury, compulsory jury duty, unforeseen retrenchment and natural disaster.
Tourists can and do make mistakes and sometimes get sued in a foreign country. If you cause an accident when abroad and injure someone, travel insurance can cover your liability and legal expenses. Most travel insurance will not pay legal expenses if you have a car accident.
If you hire a car overseas and are involved in an accident, there is usually a policy excess that you have to pay. Travel insurance can cover the costs of the excess amount.
Flight delays are common, and if you are on a tight schedule, it is a sensible precaution to protect yourself against the unexpected costs of missed connections. Delays can involve hotel bills, extra meals, transfer and shuttle costs and can quickly become very expensive. The conditions and benefits vary considerably between policies so always read the policy wording carefully if you need this cover.
Resumption Of Journey
Most travel insurance policies end the minute you arrive home. However, some policies allow for special circumstances if you were required to return home because of a sick relative or a death in the family. Not only will you be able to claim for some of these costs, but you can also resume your journey.
The conditions and benefits vary considerably between policies so always read the policy details carefully.