Heading off on an adventure but on a tight budget? Use these ten 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:
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 your destination details
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.