We recommend purchasing travel insurance as soon as you book your trip so that you’ll be covered for events that may disrupt your travel plans before you have even left home.
Travel insurance covers things like loss of luggage, medical emergencies, theft and travel delays while you’re travelling, and may also cover you for unexpected events before you leave that may disrupt your travel plans. Cover for medical emergencies is particularly important because the cost of medical care in some countries for uninsured people can be very high, or the medical facilities available may be of a lower standard than you would expect in Australia.
Policies will state dollar limits for each event covered. Travel insurance will cover you for a set period or, if you travel often, you can purchase an annual travel policy.
Travel insurance usually does not cover:
- Injury from extreme sports (e.g. bungee jumping or white water rafting)
- 'At risk’ activities like parachuting, abseiling, skiing, riding a moped or motorbike
- Any injury sustained while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Illness or injury caused by a pre-existing medical condition
- Pregnancy-related costs (not all insurers will automatically cover women over 22 weeks’ gestation)
- Loss or injury from acts of terrorism, war and some natural disasters
- Loss or theft of unattended luggage (check your insurer’s definition of ‘unattended’)
- Claims for travel to areas where an official travel warning has been issued
- Losses incurred due to the financial failure of an airline, hotel, other travel operator, or your travel agent.
Read the product disclosure statement (PDS) to find out what’s covered and what’s excluded, especially if you’re planning any unusual activities or you have any pre-existing conditions. Be honest with the insurer regarding any pre-existing conditions, including mental health issues, or the insurer could void your policy should you need to make a claim.
Policies differ between insurers so compare what is and isn’t covered as well as cost when choosing travel insurance to suit your needs.
Airline travel insurance
Some airlines offer you insurance when buying tickets online. It may seem convenient, but it’s smart to go through the same comparison process, comparing cost and cover, before you agree to buy it. Watch out for websites that automatically select insurance for you, especially if you’re travelling domestically.
Credit card travel insurance
Some credit card providers offer ‘complimentary’ insurance for overseas travel.
To be covered, you may need to pay for some, or all, of your travel costs with your credit card. Each policy is different, so check what it actually covers and how to activate it.
Check the terms and conditions carefully to make sure the policy suits your needs. Also check who is covered, it may only cover the cardholder, not your spouse, children, or additional cardholders.
Before you leave home
Take a copy of your insurance policy with you when you are travelling, have an electronic copy on your smartphone and a paper copy in your luggage. Documents should include the policy number, details of what is covered and contact details of the insurer for assistance.
Before you leave home, take photos of any expensive items you’re taking with you, record the serial numbers, copy purchase receipts and make sure they’re covered under your policy. Also make a copy of your passport and any other identification documents you are taking with you.
Making a claim on your travel insurance
If you need to lodge a claim, inform your insurer that you intend to make a claim as soon as possible. Some insurers require you to inform them of any incidents within 24 hours. Be completely honest about events and any mitigating circumstances. There can be serious consequences for making a false claim.
Evidence required to lodge a claim could include:
- Proof of travel – to verify the details of your trip, e.g. flight details, itineraries and hotel confirmations.
- Doctor’s report – to prove you became sick or injured while travelling. Written confirmation should be provided by a qualified member of the medical or dental profession.
- Police report – if something was stolen, you were injured in an accident or you were the victim of a crime. Your insurer is likely to ask for proof that the incident was reported to the police.
- Valuations and proof of purchase – to prove that you own the item that was lost or stolen and verify how much it cost. This applies to items you’ve brought with you on your trip and anything you purchased along the way.
Keep a copy of your claim, including all the attachments, and proof of submission (eg. your sent email or registered post details).