Nothing ruins a holiday or business trip faster than lost
luggage or an unexpected accident. Having insurance
cover won't prevent things from going wrong, but it can make
things much easier if you get into trouble.
What does travel insurance
Before you pay to reduce the excess on your hire car insurance,
check your travel policy. You may already be covered.
This type of insurance typically
- Medical expenses from personal injury or illness
- Loss of luggage or personal items
- Disruptions to your travel plans (e.g. cancelled flights,
though it pays to check exactly which situations are covered)
Urgent medical treatment, in particular, can cost
you a lot if you don't have travel cover.
What's not covered
Travel insurance usually does not cover:
- Injury from extreme sports (e.g. bungee jumping or white
- Illness or injury caused by a pre-existing medical
- 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
- 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, keep an eye on travel warnings
and news for your destination in the lead up to your trip
- Losses incurred due to the financial failure of an airline,
hotel, other travel operator, or your travel agent.
If you're about to travel overseas, travel insurance should
be an essential item on your trip checklist, however,
you need to 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. Cover can differ between insurers
so don't be afraid to shop around for the cover you want at a
price you can afford.
Case study: Rhys's unattended bag
was waiting at a bus terminal in Los Angeles when his bag was
stolen. He lost all his clothes and other personal items.
When he made his insurance claim he told them that his bag was
stolen from a bench while he was in a nearby newsagent.
They rejected his claim because it was classified as being
How to choose travel
You will pay an upfront premium to cover you for
a set period of time. You can also purchase an
annual travel policy if you travel often.
Some credit cards provide travel cover under certain
conditions. Find out more about credit card travel
On top of the premium, you may have to pay an excess if you make a claim. Make
sure you know what the excess is, and when it's
payable, before choosing an insurer.
When choosing a travel policy find out:
- The cost of the premium and any excess applicable to
- What's included and what's excluded
- The dollar limits for claims on individual items and as a
- What proof you need to make a claim
- How to contact your insurer if you are overseas
- What paperwork you need to take with you on your holiday
Some airlines offer you insurance when you're buying
tickets online. It may seem convenient, but it's smart to make sure
the cover suits your needs and the cost is competitive, before you
agree to purchase. Also watch out for websites that automatically
select travel insurance for you, especially if you're travelling
Why you need to be honest
Be honest about the activities you have planned and any personal
circumstances that could affect the cover you need. Exclusions
often apply to 'at risk' activities like parachuting,
abseiling, riding a moped or motorbike, as well as
any injury sustained while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
or as a result of a pre-existing medical condition.
You should let your insurer know of any changes in your
circumstances before or during your travels, as this may
impact your cover.
If you do need to lodge a claim, be
completely honest about events and any mitigating
circumstances. You want to receive what you're entitled to under
your policy but there are serious consequences for making a false
Case study: Sarah's heart attack
When Sarah was planning a skiing holiday in New Zealand she took
out travel cover in case she got injured or any of her possessions
were lost or stolen. Sarah sometimes suffers from an irregular
heartbeat (arrhythmia) but she was relatively young, very active
and wasn't taking any medication so she didn't think her travel
insurer needed to know about it.
Five days into her holiday Sarah suffered a mild heart attack on
the ski slopes and had to be hospitalised. When
she tried to claim back her medical expenses, her insurer denied
her claim on the basis that she had failed to disclose a
pre-existing medical condition.
If Sarah had disclosed her condition she may have been able to
get cover, for an additional premium, and would have been
reimbursed for all her medical expenses.
Making a claim
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.
Register your claim or inform your insurer that you intend to
make a claim as soon as possible. Some insurers require you to
inform them of incidents within 24 hours.
Your insurance policy should include the policy number, details
of what is covered and contact details of the insurer for
assistance. Always keep a copy of your insurance policy with you
when you are travelling.
Preparing a claim
Your claim is more likely to be accepted if you have the
- Proof of travel - to verify the details of
your trip, e.g. flight details, itineraries and hotel
- Doctor's report - to prove you
become 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
Don't forget to keep a copy of your claim that includes all the
attachments and proof of submission (like your sent email or
registered post details).
If you've lodged a travel insurance claim and it's
been rejected by the insurer, there are things you can do if
you think you've been treated unfairly.
- Lodge a written complaint with the insurer's
internal dispute resolution department - Details
of your insurer's internal dispute resolution process can be found
in your insurance product
disclosure statement (PDS).
- Take your complaint to external dispute
resolution - If you're not happy with your insurer's
decision you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service
(FOS). this is a free independent service and
any determination they make is legally binding on
- Seek legal advice - If you are still
unhappy with the outcome you may choose to seek legal advice.
Be aware there is a time limit on further action.
Travelling the world can be a great experience.
Spending a little time to find the right insurance
cover means you can spend less time worrying
about something going wrong and more time
just enjoying your trip!
Last updated: 12 Oct 2016