Getting some peace of mind
Nothing ruins a holiday or business trip faster than lost
luggage or an unexpected accident. Having travel insurance cover
won't prevent things from going wrong, but it can make things much
easier if you get into trouble.
What is travel
Travel insurance covers the costs of any unexpected events you
might incur while traveling. When purchasing travel insurance, you
pay an upfront premium to cover you for a set period. If you travel
often, you can also purchase an annual travel policy.
What does travel insurance cover?
Travel insurance typically covers the financial losses caused by
a range of events that may affect your trip before, during or even
after it has occurred. This includes:
- 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 does travel insurance not cover?
Travel insurance usually does not cover:
- Injury from extreme sports (e.g. bungee jumping or white water
- 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. 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.
Does travel insurance cover mental health?
Some travel insurance policies cover you if you need to cancel
or change your travel plans due to a mental health issue that you
suffer after buying the policy. Be sure to let your insurer know of
any pre-existing conditions, including any mental health issues,
before you take out a policy.
How to choose travel
There are many travel insurers in the market and you have a
range of options available when choosing your cover. You should
shop around to find a policy that suits your individual
circumstances and travel plans.
Travel insurance does not have unlimited cover so it's important
to be informed and choose the right level of cover for your
circumstances. Read the PDS carefully to make sure that the things
most important to you are covered and how much they are covered
Some credit card providers also provide travel cover under
certain conditions. Find out more about credit card travel
Choosing your travel insurance policy
When choosing a travel policy find out:
- The cost of the premium and any excess applicable to
- What's included and what's excluded from the policy (and how
this compares to what you intend to do on holiday)
- If there are any age restrictions on the people covered by the
- 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.
Taking out insurance through your airline or other third
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
Video: Tips on travel cover
Video about travel insurance
The Know Risk website explains what travel insurance usually
covers and what might be excluded.
right travel insurance cover
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. Be honest about the
activities you have planned and any personal circumstances that
could affect the cover you need.
You should let your insurer know of any changes in your
circumstances before or during your travels, as this may impact
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 claim.
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
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 on your travel
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 any incidents within 24 hours.
Your travel 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.
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.
Preparing a travel insurance 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 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.
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).
How to complain about
your travel insurer
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 the insurer.
- 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: 25 Oct 2018