10 hot tips to save on travel insurance

Heading off on an adventure but on a tight budget? Use these 10 simple tips to find affordable travel insurance that satisfies all your cover needs.

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1. Don’t buy from a travel agent or airline

Buying insurance cover at the same time as you book your holiday or your flights is undoubtedly an easy and convenient option. Unfortunately, it’s also an expensive one.

Travel agents and airlines add hefty commissions on top of the price of the policies they sell, which basically means you end up paying a whole lot more for cover than you need to. In fact, a 2015 study by finder.com.au showed that buying travel insurance through an airline is three times more expensive than necessary, while buying from a travel agent means cover is two-and-a-half times more expensive.

So how can you find the cheapest travel insurance? You buy your policy direct from the travel insurer. It’s quick and easy to compare and choose policies online, and buying cover straight from the source can save you a whole lot of money.

2. Choose the level of cover that's right for you

Generally speaking, there are three levels of travel insurance cover available:

  • Basic
  • Medium
  • Comprehensive

The benefits provided increase with each step up to a higher level of cover, but so too does the cost of travel insurance. With this in mind, it’s important to have a long, hard think about which level of cover is right for your trip.

The answer to this question will be influenced by a few key factors:

  • What you need cover for. There are some travel insurance benefits, such as cover for overseas medical expenses and trip cancellation costs, that are simply essential. The need for other benefits will vary based on your personal circumstances and travel plans – for example, if you’re hiring a car you may decide that rental vehicle insurance excess cover is a must.
  • The level of cover you feel comfortable with. Some people will only feel comfortable heading away on holiday if they have travel insurance that provides comprehensive protection. Others are much happier to purchase basic cover for a few key worst-case scenarios and then just take their chances for the rest of their holiday. Think about how much risk you’re willing to tolerate before choosing a policy.
  • Your budget. Cost is always a crucial factor when choosing travel insurance. How much can you afford to pay (and how much are you willing to pay) for travel insurance?

Once you’ve considered the above factors you’ll be better placed to choose a travel insurance policy. If you want to save money, choosing a lower level of cover is a simple way to reduce your travel insurance premiums.

3. Avoid options you don't need

When you buy travel insurance, you may find that the cover you want or need isn’t included as standard. To tailor a policy to suit your trip, it may be necessary to add some optional covers to your policy, such as:

  • Winter sports cover
  • Adventure sports cover
  • Golf cover
  • High-value personal items cover
  • Additional rental car excess cover

Of course, all of these options come with an additional premium, so make sure they’re actually essential for your holiday before adding them to your policy. By avoiding any unnecessary options, you can substantially lower the cost of cover.

4. Keep an eye out for travel insurance discounts

Why pay full price for anything when you can save money with a discount? There is always a wide range of travel insurance deals and special offers available, so why not check to see how much they can help you save? While you should never choose a policy based solely on an attractive discount, it’s definitely worth shopping around for a good deal.

Travel insurance discounts you may be able to take advantage of include:

  • Promos and coupon codes
  • Discounts for buying cover online
  • Multi-policy discounts if you hold another type of cover (e.g. car insurance) with the same insurer
  • Discounts for special customers and members – for example, as the customer of a specific bank, you may be entitled to discount travel insurance from the bank’s insurance partner

Just make sure that you take a close look at the features of any discounted policy before deciding whether it’s right for you.

5. Know the details of your destinations

The destination(s) you choose to visit on your holiday can have a big impact on the cost of cover. First, where you go can play a part in determining the level of cover you need. For example, if you’re heading to the US, a policy that covers unlimited overseas medical expenses is essential to help you pay for treatment in that country’s expensive health system, but there are other countries around the world where you may not need the same high level of cover.

Second, the way in which your insurer covers your destinations also has an effect. For example, some insurers will ask you to nominate the region where you will spend most of your time while away, while others require you to select the furthest region away from home you will visit. So, if you’re spending the majority of time in a destination closer to home, it may be possible to find cheaper cover with some insurers.

6. Consider a multi-trip policy

If you’re a frequent traveller who takes multiple overseas trips a year, buying a separate travel insurance policy for each holiday can add up to be quite expensive. That’s why it’s worth considering an annual multi-trip policy.

These policies don’t just cover one trip, but provide cover for all the trips you take during a 12-month period. Limits apply to the maximum duration of any one trip, but apart from that, multi-trip policies offer the same benefits you’d expect from a single-trip comprehensive policy.

Best of all, you can enjoy substantial savings on the total cost of travel insurance over the course of a year.

7. Combine and save

Are you travelling with a family member or a close friend? If so, the total cost of each of you purchasing a separate travel insurance policy could be substantial.

However, if you join forces to buy combined cover under the one policy, you could access significant savings on the cost of cover. As long as you’re both happy with the level of cover the policy provides, this option is an easy way to save money on travel insurance.

8. Be honest and disclose everything

Got a pre-existing condition that insurers will only cover if you agree to pay a premium loading? Visiting an out-of-the-way destination that you’re pretty sure will push your premium up? Don’t give into the temptation of keeping information from your insurer just to save a little bit of money – while it might help you pinch a few pennies in the short term, in the long run, it could end up costing you big time.

If you don’t tell your insurer something that it has a right to know – be it a pre-existing condition, a destination you’re visiting or anything else – if that something later leads to a claim, your claim will be refused. On top of that, the insurer will probably cancel your policy altogether.

When you apply for cover, make sure to be upfront and honest, and to disclose all information relevant to your policy.

9. Vary your travel insurance excess

Another great way to save money on travel insurance is to choose a higher excess. Available as an option on some policies, this allows you to adjust your excess amount higher, which means you’d have to dig a little deeper into your own pocket if you have to make a claim.

The reward is a lower travel insurance premium and the amount you save may be more than you think, so it’s worth getting a quote with an adjusted excess to see if it could be worth your while.

10. Compare travel insurance quotes and shop around

Speaking of getting quotes, this is the last but perhaps the most important step on your journey to finding cheaper travel insurance. Getting travel insurance quotes online is quick, convenient and extremely easy. Using finder.com.au’s travel insurance quote engine, all you have to do is provide:

  • Details of where you’re travelling
  • Your travel dates
  • The age of all travellers you want to insure
  • Your email address

And then you can compare multiple quotes from some of Australia’s leading travel insurers. With several quotes at your disposal you can easily get a better idea of how much you can expect to pay for cover, and can then start comparing the features, benefits, limits and exclusions of individual policies.

With a little bit of research, you’ll soon be able to find affordable travel insurance that provides all the cover you need for your next trip.

How to reduce or increase your excess

The ability to adjust your excess is offered as an option on many travel insurance policies. The excess is the amount you need to contribute towards the cost of a claim, and you can adjust your excess in two ways:

  • You can choose a lower excess, which results in higher premiums but fewer out-of-pocket expenses when you make a claim.
  • You can choose a higher excess, which lowers your premium but means you’ll need to cover additional costs when you make a claim.

The exact steps you need to follow to reduce or increase your travel insurance excess vary between insurers, but it’s typically included as another step in the online application process. All you have to do is select the excess you want from the options available and then obtain a quote to see how it affects your premium.

Regardless of which direction you choose to adjust your excess, make sure you’ll not only be able to afford your premium but that you’ll also be able to cover any excesses that apply if you make a claim.

How to save on travel insurance if you're a senior

If you’re over the age of 65 and planning a holiday, you’ll need to consider your seniors travel insurance options. Keep the following tips in mind to help you get the best value when choosing a policy:

  • Consider a specialist insurer. Some insurance providers specialise in offering cover to senior travellers. With features and benefits designed to suit older Australians, these insurers may be able to offer affordable policies to suit you.
  • Travel sooner. Once you reach the age of 60, the older you get, the more your travel insurance premiums will cost. This is merely a reflection of the increased risk of injury and illness for older travellers, so travelling sooner rather than later can help you save money.
  • Free cover for dependants. If you’re planning on travelling with your grandkids, it could be worth searching for a policy that provides free cover for your dependants up to a certain age, usually 21.
  • Don’t buy from your travel agent. Travel insurance is much cheaper when you buy direct from an insurer rather than purchasing a policy through your travel agent or airline. Buying cover online from your travel insurer is quick, easy and can save you heaps.
  • Research and compare. No matter how old you are, the most important thing you can do when choosing travel insurance is to compare multiple policies. Look at the features, exclusions, limits and cost of a range of policies to decide which one is right for you.

How to compare policies to get the most value

Shopping around for the best value travel insurance? Just because a policy is cheap doesn’t mean it offers good value for money, so remember to consider the following factors when comparing policies:

  • What’s covered. Take a close look at the table of benefits for any policy you are considering buying and find out exactly when cover applies – are there any circumstances or events you need cover for that are not included?
  • What cover limits apply. Next, check how much cover the policy provides – is it enough to meet your needs? Does it cover unlimited overseas medical expenses or impose a cap? What limits and sub-limits apply to the amount of cover available for your luggage and personal items? Answering these questions is a crucial step to help prevent underinsurance.
  • What’s not covered. You should also check the list of general exclusions for information about when your insurer will not pay any claims. This will ensure that you don’t end up with any nasty surprises down the line.
  • What options are available. If you need additional cover, such as a winter sports package or cover for high-value items you’re planning on taking with you, make sure these options are available.
  • Policy flexibility. How easy is it to tailor the policy to suit your needs? Can you adjust your excess, extend cover when it’s already in place, or add optional covers you need for your next holiday?
  • The claims process. Finally, consider the steps involved in making a claim. What forms do you need to fill out and what information do you need to provide? Does the insurer have a good reputation for having an easy and efficient claims process?

Where to save and where to spend extra on travel insurance

There are plenty of ways you can save on travel insurance, but there are also certain areas of cover where you’ll be better off spending a little more to get the protection you need.

Areas where you can save money include:

  • The level of cover you choose. If you don’t need comprehensive cover, why pay for it?
  • Optional extras. Don’t add any extra-cost options you don’t really need
  • Your excess. Adjusting your excess higher is a simple and effective way to reduce your premium.
  • Discounts. From promo codes and deals to premium savings if you purchase a join policy with a friend or relative, make sure to take advantage of any discounts you can find.

Areas where it’s usually a good idea to spend extra include:

  • Cover for overseas medical costs. This is one area where you do not want to get caught short.
  • Cancellation costs. This is another crucial area of cover and one that can affect travellers of all ages no matter where they are going.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions. If you can get travel insurance cover for your pre-existing medical condition by paying a little extra, it’s worth doing more often than not.

Travel insurance traps to avoid

Make sure you avoid these traps when trying to reduce your travel insurance premium:

  • Underinsurance. Don’t let the desire to save money on travel insurance cause you to skimp on the features you need in a policy. Make sure any policy you choose offers an adequate level of cover for your trip, as the consequences of underinsurance can be financially disastrous.
  • Failing to disclose. If you’ve got a pre-existing medical condition and you’re worried it might prompt the insurer to jack up the cost of cover, don’t even think about "forgetting" to mention it in your application for cover. This could lead to your claim being refused and your policy cancelled, so be upfront and honest from the get-go and disclose all pre-existing conditions when you apply.
  • Not doing your research. Don’t get sucked in straight away by an attractive discount or a travel insurance quote that sounds too good to be true. Read the fine print to make sure any policy you choose offers the cover you need for your next holiday.

Travel insurance is an essential expense, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little bit of knowledge of how to find the best deal, you can lock in affordable cover and hit the road with complete confidence.

Compare and save on your policy


Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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41 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    BrendanAugust 5, 2015

    how do bank provided E.g as part of my Visa card with WestPac, I get “free” travel insurance. Are these just basics or are they value for money given bank fees I pay?

    • Staff
      RichardAugust 6, 2015Staff

      Hi Brendan,

      Thanks for your question. Your complementary travel insurance will come with certain conditions and limitations. If you would like to know more, please have a look at our Credit Card Versus Standalone Travel Insurance page.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  2. Default Gravatar
    JenniferJune 16, 2015

    thanks for your replies re pre-existing conditions. A tip, do not fill in the PEC form on line, ring the company & insist on doing it via the PEC assessor.
    I always get knocked back on line, but accepted on the phone. Been with Covermore since early 90′s. With PEC you need to build up a long term relationship so they can monitor how your condition is going as time passes.

    • Default Gravatar
      DisgruntledJuly 28, 2015

      This is not a question, it is a serious recommendation.

      Make absolutely sure you get a copy of your responses to the insurance questionnaire before committing to a policy. Yes, do it over the phone not on-line or in a travel agency.

      I was accused of omitting information about a claimed pre-existing medical condition by a well-known travel insurance company mentioned in one of the responses published below when I had to cancel travel because of emergency surgery for a condition I was aware of at the time of application.

      This was not the case but they refused to believe me. The insurance company refused my refund for months but in the end were unable to produce a copy of my application showing what I had declared, or in their view had not declared. Be careful, very careful!

  3. Default Gravatar
    JenniferJune 13, 2015

    you have not shown any options for seniors or Ore Existing Conditions. These are of interest to me, if only names of companies that are more accommodating.
    Some information would be welcome.
    I already figured about countries with reciprocal agreements or that you may have dual citizenship with, but what about on board a cruise ship, do many of them want you to pay for medical attention as you receive it?

    • Staff
      RichardJune 15, 2015Staff

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for your question. We have various pages that deal with both these topics, including:
      Travel Insurance for Existing Conditions
      Seniors Travel Insurance

      Whether or not you can take out cover will depend on your pre-existing condition. However, InsureandGo claim to consider all conditions. CoverMore may also be able to help as they assess medical conditions prior to travel issuing travel insurance.

      These are just two providers from our panel that may be able to help and there may be other insures out there who are suitable to your needs.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  4. Default Gravatar
    HelynJune 8, 2015

    I will be travelling with a carer from Sydney to Hawaii. Have 2 days there and then cruising back to Sydney.

    I am in a wheelchair, have a very stable medical condition that requires oxygen and ventilator only at night.

    My condition has been stable for over 38 years

    • Staff
      RichardJune 9, 2015Staff

      HI Helyn,

      Thanks for your comment. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurer. If you would like to compare policies from providers in our panel, please enter your travel details into the travel form above.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  5. Default Gravatar
    GraemeJune 8, 2015

    What about having pre-existing medical conditions covered?

    As i like cruising and I go when there is a special on.Sometimes it may be
    a fly cruise and stay vacation.

    I am 65 been on about 6 already

    My pre-existing is a TIA about 7years ago no subsequent incidents ,diabetes (type 2),sleep apnoea

    • Staff
      RichardJune 9, 2015Staff

      Hi Graeme,

      Thank you for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurer, and we are not permitted to provide personalised advice.

      Whether or not you can take out cover will depend on your illness. However, InsureandGo claim to consider all conditions. CoverMore may also be able to help as they assess medical conditions prior to travel issuing travel insurance.

      These are just two providers from our panel that may be able to help and there may be other insures out there who are suitable to your needs.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  6. Default Gravatar
    kimMay 29, 2015

    My husband and I are doing a cruise for one week in July this year.We have three ports of call.How much would insurance be for us as a couple,for this period.
    Thank You(kim)

    • Staff
      RichardMay 29, 2015Staff

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and not an insurer. If you would like to compare policies from our providers, please enter your travel details into the quote form above. If you would like more information, please consult our cruise travel insurance page.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  7. Default Gravatar
    john-arthurMay 26, 2015

    I am 83 years old how can I get travel insurance for the US where my daughter lives.

    • Staff
      RichardMay 26, 2015Staff

      Hi John-Arthur,

      Thanks for your question. It will depend on the insurer. If you have a look at our Seniors Travel Insurance page, there is a complete list of the providers in our panel and the maximum age for each provider under the title, “How old can I be to take out cover?”

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  8. Default Gravatar
    williamMay 26, 2015

    wife and I going on 17 day cruise next February,. wife said all insurance covered by cruise company. but I have what is classed as 3 chronic illness. I would feel safer if I took out my own personal insurance. is this possible if already covered by price of cruise. but cruise insurance is extremely poor

    • Staff
      RichardMay 26, 2015Staff

      Hi William,

      Thank you for your question. Whether or not you can take out cover will depend more on your illness than your existing cover. However, InsureandGo claim to consider all conditions. CoverMore may also be able to as they will assess medical conditions prior to travel issuing travel insurance, so long as you’re not travelling against the advice of a medical practitioner. These may be two providers that may be able to help.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

    • Default Gravatar
      williamMay 26, 2015

      my sincere thanks Richard. I suffer from depression, post traumatic stress and chronic arthritis. To my surprise my private health cover N.I.B. have given me the best cover 3 times have traveled over seas before, but costly. I have looked at 1 of the companies you have suggested and very interested in the there offer and price,. Sincerely, William.

    • Staff
      RichardMay 26, 2015Staff

      Hi William,

      No worries at all. I hope your are able to find cover. If you need anymore help, please let me know.

      Best of luck,
      Richard

  9. Default Gravatar
    AileenMay 16, 2015

    Where can I get domestic travel insurance to cover for pre-existing cardio vascular disease. Insurance required is mainly for cancellation of trip as medical expenses are covered by Medicare within Australia.

    • Staff
      RichardMay 18, 2015Staff

      Hi Aileen,

      Thanks for your question. If you contact the insurer, you should be able to arrange cover for things like cancellation, lost luggage, etc and exclude cover for anything arising from your existing condition.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  10. Default Gravatar
    frankMay 5, 2015

    Which is the best company to insure with for travel – a cruise to Hawaii and Tahiti- for older people? I’ve tried to find cover for this trip but none seem to want to insure travel to America.

    • Staff
      RichardMay 6, 2015Staff

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for your question. The best travel insurance is different for everyone. finder.com.au is a comparison service and we are not permitted to provide personalised advice. However, the pages below may help you make a more informed decision:
      Seniors travel insurance
      Cruise travel insurance
      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

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