Tips to find the best value travel insurance in Australia
Travelling is something that many of us love to do, both within our own country and internationally. The excitement of travelling to pastures new means that people often get carried away with all the arrangements, buying clothes, booking transport, and arranging hotels and excursions amongst other things. However, whilst arranging all of these things is important there is also something else you should never forget about ensuring you have the right cover in place should anything go wrong while away.
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Everyone has their own needs and requirements when it comes to travel insurance cover, as the type of cover you should go for can depend on a range of different factors. You should therefore always do your research to ensure that you take out the right plan for your needs whilst also taking the cost of the cover into consideration so that you can try and stay within your maximum budget.
Steps to find the best travel insurance for your travel needs
It is not uncommon for many people to grab the first policy they see offering a cheap premium or to go with policy from the provider they have heard of before. Not only can this result in you spending more than you actually need to for a policy not tailored towards your needs but it can also leave you significantly underinsured in the event of a claim. The ability to be able to purchase travel insurance online has made the whole process of comparing policies and taking out cover much easier as you can compare multiple options simultaneously. This section will offer some key insights into the important aspects of policies to review before reaching for your wallet.
- Cost of premium and excess: While price should never be your sole consideration for what policy to choose, it is important to ensure what you are paying reflects the quality of the cover. It is also critical to review how much you will pay in excess for a claim. Cheap policies will often drive up the excess on claims.
- Benefits and exclusions: Have a clear understanding of the benefits and exclusions on each policy to avoid any surprises in the event that you need to make a claim.
- Pre-existing medical conditions: Each insurer will have different policies around how they treat pre-existing medical conditions on policies. The product disclosure statement should clearly display what is and isn't covered. In the event that your condition is not covered you may need to contact the insurer to discuss other options.
- Cooling-off period: Most policies will offer cooling-off periods of more than 14 days whereby you can cancel the policy if you are not satisfied with the cover. You will receive a full refund provided your journey has not started, you are not under claim or your policy has not commenced.
- Sub-limits on expensive items: Many policies will allow you to register high-value items for additional cover. It is crucial that you learn if there is a sub-limit for each item. As an example, you may have $10,000 in cover for high value items but a claim will only provide $1,500 per item.
- Proof of purchase: Many insurers will require you to provide some proof of purchase for any high-value items that you are claiming. This may include photos, receipts or other documentation.
- 24 hour emergency assistance: Possibly the most important benefit to ensure you have on an international policy is the availability of 24 hour support if you are seriously injured or become ill in a foreign country.
- Ability to contact insurer: You want to ensure that in the event of a serious loss occurring that you are able to contact your insurer while overseas. Each insurer should provide access to a 24-hour support hotline.
- Documentation to take with you: It is worth finding out what kind of documentation your insurer requires you to take away with you. It is also important to know what documentation will be required in the event of a claim.
- Family cover options: Most policies will allow you to include your spouse, children or grandchildren on your policy provided they are travelling with you for the duration of the journey.
- Group cover options: Many providers will now allow travelling groups to take out the same cover for their trip to give a multi-policy discount and to save time. It is worth finding out what exclusions may apply under a group policy.
- Depreciation of value: Most providers will account for depreciation when reviewing claims for lost or damaged luggage and other valuables. Review in your policy the conditions of depreciation.
- Option to remove policy excess: Most policies will allow you to pay a small fee to remove any excess that is payable in the event of a claim. This fee is usually around $25 dollars and might be worth considering during application.
Shopping around for the right policy may seem time consuming but could save you thousands in the long run. Be weary of purchasing cover through an airline or travel agent, as they will often be significantly more expensive due to loading for commission. They may also be restricted in the range of policies that they have access to.
Finding the best travel insurance companies
Finding the right insurance for your trip isn't just a matter of finding a policy suitable to your needs but also finding an insurer that you feel secure with. Here are some factors to consider when reviewing different insurance providers:
- Reputation: While it may not be the be all and end all when comparing different options, taking out cover with an established brand that is recognised industry-wide is usually a safer bet than applying for cover with someone you have never even heard of.
- Range of products: Being restricted in the policy options available to you may lead you to take out cover that is not as closely tailored to your needs as other options. This is especially the case if you are seeking cover for adventure sports or if you are a senior traveller.
- Contact: It is crucial that your insurance provider is able to be contacted 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world.
- Claims process: It is worth reviewing what will be required in the event of a claim to be sure that you have the necessary documentation while you are travelling and that there are no delays in your claim payment.
- Secure transaction: If you are purchasing your cover online, its worth reviewing the privacy disclosure on the providers website to have an understanding of how your details will be used and that your card details are secure.
Benefits to consider on your travel insurance policy
Each policy will have its own set of benefits to provide cover for certain events. Some typical benefits to consider when comparing policies include:
- Family cover: Family travel insurance is a cheaper way of covering all members of the family travelling together rather than taking out individual policies. The cover for your children is often free but make sure the excess required is not too prohibitive. Most policies will require dependent children to be under the age of 21 and not engaged in any full-time work. For cover to remain in place other family members listed on the policy must be travelling with the policy owner at all times.
- 24-hour emergency assistance: This type of cover will give you protection 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It will give you the peace of mind knowing that whatever the reason, you will receive personal attention anywhere you might find yourself, be it the loss of your passport or being involved in a serious accident in Siberia. This cover will often include cover for ambulance fees, funeral arrangements and messages to family.
- Overseas hospital cover: It is possible for Medicare to provide some cover in overseas destinations but generally you will need additional cover for hospital expenses if you become sick or injured.
- Travel delays: Delay in your flight schedule can also be compensated for if the delay is longer than 12 hours. If you are delayed by your airline for any reason ask the airline to put it in writing that the delay has actually occurred and keep possession of any receipts so you can prove the delay put you out of pocket.
- Dental cover: Some policies will provide cover for dental expenses if you experience acute pain while travelling.
- Additional accommodation and travel cover: This option will cover reasonable accommodation and travel expenses if you are unable to travel due to sickness or injury.
- Family emergency: Family emergency will cover additional expenses to cover travelling and accommodation expenses if your partner or travelling companion becomes seriously ill or injured.
- Emergency companion cover: Provides support for accommodation if your travelling companion is unable to continue travelling due to serious illness or injury.
- Resume journey: Cover for transport costs if you are forced to return home following the death or serious injury of a relative.
- Hospital cash cover: Provides a daily allowance for a specified number of days if you are required to stay in hospital while overseas.
- Accidental death cover: Lump sum benefit paid for accidental death that has occurred on your journey or within the 12-month period following.
- Permanent disability cover: Lump sum benefit paid if you suffer loss of sight in one or both eyes or the use of one or more of your limbs.
- Loss of income: Benefit paid if you become disabled on your trip and are unable to work to your full capacity for a specified period of time after returning home.
- Credit card loss and fraud: Cover for replacement cost following loss and use of your credit card on your journey.
- Loss of cash: Cover for cash stolen from your person.
- Luggage and personal items: Cover for the loss or damage of your personal items while travelling.
- Cancellation cover: Cover for cancellation of pre-booked flights, tours and other arrangements following an event that is out of your control such as sickness, injuries or strikes.
- Disruption of journey: Cover for reasonable accommodation and meals if your trip is disrupted by events that are outside of your control.
- Alternative transport cover: If you have a special event such as wedding, funeral or conference and you experience a delay with your transport, you will be compensated for additional transport that you have had to take as a result.
- Personal liability: Covers legal liability for any claims made against you following bodily injuries or damage to property.
- Domestic pets: Cover for additional boarding fees for your pet if you are delayed returning home by transport carrier.
- Domestic services: Cover for housekeeping costs following injury on your trip.
- Rental vehicle excess: Cover for excess charged by rental company following crash, damage or theft of your rental vehicle.
It is essential when comparing different policy options to closely review the terms and conditions of each of these benefits. The amount of benefit that will be paid for a claim on these benefits can vary greatly between providers with cheaper policies often having a reduced sum-insured.
Exclusions to watch out for when comparing the best travel insurance policies
Travel insurance features, although important, should not be looked on as an excuse for you to relax your own responsibilities in having to take proper care of yourself and your possessions while travelling. Travel insurance providers will not pay out on claims if they feel the policy owner did not take the right precautions to avoid a loss occurring. Travel insurers will not pay claims under the following circumstances:
- If you have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the incident occurred. This clause will prevent a claim being paid if you become injured or ill as a result of you being considered drunk or under the influence at the time of the mishap.
- Not taking proper care of your possessions. Travel insurers will consider you to be negligent if it can be proved you left your property in an unattended hotel or bus stop. You must always show care and concern for your own property to minimise any chance of theft.
- Acting irresponsibly as regard your own welfare. If your left your hotel to go sightseeing alone in Somalia it could be regarded as you acting irresponsibly should you be attacked and suffer an injury. A claim is unlikely to be paid.
- No documentation of proof, no payment of claim. An American hospital might charge you $25,000 for your stay but if you are unable back up this claim with proper receipts detailing the treatment you received you may as well whistle Dixie in the wind. Travel insurers will always need proof before any claim can be taken seriously.
- Failure to observe government warnings or warnings in the mass media. Most policies will not pay out on claims for events that have taken place where there have been warnings against travel. This may include such things as war or civil unrest.
- Claims for mental illness. Mental illness, depression, anxiety and stress are generally not covered under your policy.
- Dangerous sports. Extreme sports that get the adrenaline running are risky as far as you receiving payment for any claim. Bungee jumping is one such activity that you could consider you being by yourself in. It will pay you to lookup the definition in your travel insurance policy to see exactly what they consider 'extreme sport' exemptions mean. It is important to review your product disclosure statement to find out what activities you are and are not covered for.
- Where other compensation can be claimed. Travel insurance providers will not pay out on claims if you are able to receive support from other insurance or compensation programs. In the event that other support is unable to cover the total loss, the insurer will pay the difference.
- Motorcycle accidents: Motorcycle accidents that occur if you do not hold an Australian drivers licence will not be covered. This is also the case if you are the passenger on a motorcycle that is driven by an unlicensed driver.
- Hospitals care for addiction. Hospital stay for drug or alcohol addiction is not covered under travel insurance.
- Sexually transmitted diseases. STDs are not covered under travel insurance policies.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. Pre-existing medical conditions that are not specified in your policy or that have not been approved by your insurer will not be covered.
These are just some of the exclusions that may feature on your policy. Read up on what is excluded to know you are getting the right cover for your needs.
Important considerations when looking for the best travel insurance policy
Travel cover is crucial for ensuring that in the event you suffer a loss overseas that you will be have the right cover in place to not suffer any great financial loss. This section will give an overview of some key considerations to make when looking for a policy.
Do I already have cover in place?
It's important to consider any other types of cover you already have in place that may be able to provide support in the event of a loss. This may lead you to consider a more affordable, basic level of cover.
- Home and contents insurance: Many home content insurance policies include a clause that insures your personal possessions when you are away from your home.
- Life insurance: In the event of your death while overseas the proceeds from your life insurance policy can be used to bring your body back home. You may also have permanent disability cover and other types of protection that can be called on to pay any hospitalisation or repatriation costs if you fall ill or become injured while away.
- Car rental cover: You may already have a comprehensive car insurance policy in place that will cover you for the excess payable in the event that your rental car is crashed, damaged or stolen.
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How much protection am I really getting out of my credit card cover?
Many credit cards and certain bank accounts already have you covered for travel insurance. You will have to check the quality of cover and level of benefits these services offer as many of these so-called 'free' insurances, are often quite basic. The basic cover most of them provide will include travel accident cover which will give you financial protection should you become seriously injured as a result of an accident. While the premiums may be low, the excess charged is also usually significantly higher.
But I am already covered under my business travel policy?
It is important that anyone depending on a business travel insurance policy is aware that there are often restrictions placed on these types of specialist policies. Standard business policies don't usually accommodate casual workers or those involved in manual labour but if this is your field of occupation there are specialist business travel insurance policies available to better suit your situation. The benefit of these types of policies is that they will give you special treatment as regard to covering your tools of trade.
Can I still get cover if I am a senior traveller?
Many travel insurers will require senior travellers to take out a specialised policy, often with a premium loading, to account for the additional risk that they present to the insurer. Senior travellers may need to undertake a round of medical underwriting to uncover any risks that they present to the insurer.
I am backpacking and don't know how long and where I will be travelling?
If you are a backpacker it will pay you to check out any limitations the insurer may place on the length of time you are covered for. Most insurers will put a limit of 31 days and if you are a backpacker who isn't quite sure of how long you'll be staying this could be quite a restrictive option. A way around this is to seek out specialist backpacker, long stay, or gap travel insurance. These types of specialist policies will usually cover you from three to eighteen months across many countries.
Single Trip or Annual Trip Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance can be purchased for a single trip away or on an annual basis for regular travellers. It can be cheaper for a person who travels frequently to purchase travel insurance on an annual basis rather than for each individual trip under separate policies. An annual policy will also be of better use if you plan to be away from home for an extended period. By choosing annual cover, a traveller who goes overseas at least twice a year will save money on medical, cancellation and baggage charges. It is important to confirm that the travel policy you are purchasing covers all the countries you will be travelling through. Some policies are only valid for certain destinations such as North America or Britain. In addition, most policies will have a limit on the number of days that can be taken for each trip on separate policies. It is worth reviewing the maximum number of days that you can be away for each trip as it can vary between 45-90 days depending on your provider.
Can I be covered if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
Having sufficient protection against illness or injury is one of the most important reasons for taking out travel insurance. If you have a pre-existing medical condition you will have to inform your insurer of this fact when applying for the cover. If you don't and the condition flares up while away you most certainly won't be covered, in fact you will run the risk of invalidating the whole policy. Many travel insurers will cover you for some pre-existing medical conditions without imposing a loading. Others will impose an extra charge on your premium before they'll agree to cover you.
Do I need basic or comprehensive cover?
Most policies will give you the option to select basic, essential or comprehensive cover. Each will offer varying levels of cover with premiums obviously higher for comprehensive cover options. Deciding what option is right for you is a matter of;
- Considering your travel plans and what you actually need to be covered for
- Considering what other forms of insurance or compensation you are entitled to
- Reviewing what excess is payable for claims on basic policies
- Considering your budget. While it is not ideal to base your decision on the premium charged, price may be an important consideration for some buyers
Apply for the best travel insurance online
If you are ready to start comparing different policy options for your trip you can follow the secure links on finder.com.au through to our featured providers websites. Policies can be purchased entirely online though we recommend you take the time to read through the product disclosure statement to ensure you know exactly what you are signing up for.Compare travel insurance policies online today
Frequently asked questions when looking for the best Australian travel insurance
Below are some frequently asked questions relating to travel insurance cover, its benefits, and how to find the most suitable policy.
Why do I need to take out travel insurance cover?
When you are away from home, you could be at risk of all sorts of issues, from falling victim to theft through to experiencing a medical emergency. Without any protection or coverage in place, you could find yourself in a very difficult position when it comes to the cost of recouping the expenses you incur as a result of the many problems you might face and you could find yourself without any advice or assistance in the event of issues such as needing to get back home early due to illness or being able to get treatment. Travel insurance cover provides protection for situations such as these and far more, which means that you can enjoy travelling with total peace of mind.
What sorts of issues does standard travel insurance cover?
Basic travel insurance does not tend to cover specialist needs, such as extreme sports activities, travelling whilst pregnant, pre-existing illnesses, and the like. However, it does usually offers a range of valuable protection in events such as:
- Medical cover
- Your luggage and personal effects
- Airline or travel company issues
- Other possible issues
What if I have specialist needs when it comes to travel insurance cover?
You may have specialist needs that require more coverage than standard insurance policies can offer. For example, you may need to get cover for certain activities you will be engaged in such as extreme sports, you may be pregnant and need additional coverage, or you may have pre-existing condition that need to be taken into consideration. In order to ensure that your specialist requirements are catered for you will need to check the coverage details of the plans you are considering or even contact the insurance provider you are interested in to clarify whether you can add the additional coverage you need.
What if I need travel insurance cover for a cruise?
If you are going on a cruise, then you will be visiting a number of different countries so you will need to ensure that any travel insurance cover you take out provides cover for all of the destinations that you will be visiting as part of your trip. Not all travel insurance providers will cover cruises, so you will have to do your research and find ones that offer cruise travel insurance. You will then need to make sure that you are covered for all of the places you are visiting, and where applicable, the various activities you will be taking part in. Many insurers do offer Cruise travel insurance policies.
How much will I have to pay for travel insurance cover?
The cost of travel insurance cover can vary widely based on a number of factors, so there is no set answer to this question. However, comparing deals and plans will enable you to try and find the most affordable price for the level of coverage you want. Some of the things that may affect the cost of your travel insurance cover include:
- The level of coverage you take out
- The provider you choose to take out your cover with
- Whether you have any specialist needs when you take out your cover
- The destination you are travelling to
- The length of time you are going for
- Whether you take out single trip, multi-trip, family or group travel insurance cover
- Your medical history and general health
- Your age when you travel
- The type of activities you will be taking part in while you are away
Will my travel insurance cover provide protection for day trips and excursions whilst I am away?
Some travel insurance providers will offer protection for various excursions and day trips that you have planned but this will often depend on the excursion or day trip. You should always check with your specific provider (if it is not made clear in the policy) as to whether you will be covered or not.
Why go online to buy cover?
The easiest way to find travel insurance cover that is both suited to your needs and affordable is by comparing deals online. You will find plenty of choice available online, which means that you have a better chance of finding cover that is suited to your requirements yet will also fit in with your budget. It is essential to compare travel insurance plans and providers if you want to get the right plan at the right price, as there are so many plans on the market and the cost can vary so widely.
How will I receive my paperwork?
When you take out your travel insurance cover, you will receive your policy documents and your certificate of insurance. This may be sent in a couple of ways depending on how you took out the cover. Some companies will send the documents and certificate by post but many will now send it via email, which means that you can keep it safe and secure on your computer and will have easy access if you misplace or lose your documents.
When is the best time to take out travel insurance cover?
It is advisable to take out travel insurance cover as soon as you have booked and paid for your trip or when you have paid a deposit. This way you are covered for cancellations of if your travel company or airline goes bust, which means that you can get back your prepaid costs and deposits.
What is the excess on travel insurance?
The excess on any insurance policy is the amount that you will have to pay from your own pocket before you receive any payout. So, if your excess is $300 and you claim for $1000, you will only receive $700 because the first $300 comes from your own pocket. If your claim is therefore the same as or less than your excess there is no point making the claim because you will receive nothing. Because of the nature of the excess charge, you will generally find that the higher the excess (the amount you will pay before the claim kicks in) the cheaper the premium will be on the travel insurance plan.
Can I get travel insurance cover if I am pregnant?
You can get travel insurance cover if you are pregnant but you should bear in mind that there are restrictions and exclusions in place. Many companies will offer insurance if you are 26-30 weeks into your pregnancy but will insist that you travel back no later than eight weeks before your due date due to the risk of premature birth. If you have had complications with pregnancy in the past you may find that you cannot get insurance cover because of the increased risk to the insurance companies. If you are having a multiple pregnancy or have become pregnant through IVF you may have to pay more for your travel insurance cover. If you are travelling when pregnant it is vital that you check the details of any travel insurance cover you are considering very carefully so that you know exactly what you are and are not covered for.
Can I extend my policy?
Annual trip policies are only available for a period of 12 months so it is not possible to extend cover beyond this period. Single-trip policies can be extended by contacting your insurer and requesting the necessary policy extension documentation. Single trip policies can be extended provided the cover does not surpass 12 months in total. These may only be some of the questions you need to ask before applying for your policy. Don't be afraid to contact your insurer prior to purchasing your policy to clarify any details of your policy that you are not clear on.