New Zealand was the number one destination of choice for Australians in 2019. When travelling in New Zealand, Aussies are covered by the RHCA (Reciprocal Health Care Agreement) for limited health care but it doesn't cover you for medical emergencies and the other costs associated with something unexpected.
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Do I need travel insurance to New Zealand from Australia?
Yes you do. The RHCA covers limited medical care that can't wait until you get home but it doesn't cover all medical expenses like ambulances or medications. It also doesn't cover you for anything that can go wrong beyond emergency medical assistance, like cancelled flights, rental vehicle excess or lost and damaged luggage. These are just some of the situations where travel insurance for New Zealand can help.
You need to cancel your trip at the last minute: If you have to cancel for something outside of your control, travel insurance can cover you for money you've already spent. If you have to cancel the whole trip because you're sick at home or because an earthquake struck in Christchurch, you can get your money back.
Airline loses your luggage: Travel insurance can pay you a daily allowance until you get your luggage back or can pay for it in full if it's lost forever.
You're carrying expensive gear and it gets damaged: You can get special cover that will protect your skis, jewellery, electronics, golf clubs, cameras and other equipment from destruction and theft by adding an adventure pack (like the ski pack) or by adding valuables cover.
Pre-paid lift passes or greens fees that can't be used: You can often find cover that will pay you back if you have to cancel expensive activities like skiing and golfing due to circumstances outside of your control.
You've been pick-pocketed or robbed of your belongings, including a passport: Travel insurance can cover you for loss of cash, passports and other essential travel documents.
Your rental car is involved in an accident: Travel insurance can cover the cost of your rental car excess, which can often be massive on its own. Travel insurance can also cover you if you damage someone else's property or injure them (whether it's with a car or not).
As you can see, having the right travel insurance policy can be a big help when times get tough. It can also be very affordable since the medical cover you automatically get under RHCA allows insurers to pass the savings onto you.
White Island Eruption on 9th December 2019
White Island is a busy tourist spot, visited by thousands of Australians every year. The island is uninhabited and often visited by tourists to see one of New Zealand's largest volcanoes. However, the recent volcano eruption has resulted in deaths, multiple injuries, and dozens of people unaccounted for.
Those who were affected and had travel insurance policies may be able to claim the following depending on their level of cover.
Overseas medical expenses
Additional expenses (to have travel expenses covered for a family member to help support your recovery)
Emergency calls to family
Reimbursement of cancellation fees
Accidental death/permanent disability allowances
Repatriation of remains
Travel insurance can be a huge help in unfortunate events like this. Not only does it provide financial assistance, but it can also give extra support to your family and friends.
What is the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA)?
The RCHA is a special agreement between Australia and New Zealand to look after each other's citizens and residents when they are in the other country, as long as they have an Australian Medicare card or New Zealand equivalent. You’ll receive limited medical cover in New Zealand for in-patient public hospital treatments and accommodation.
However some medical costs are not covered, which is where travel insurance can be a big help because without it, you would be responsible for these potentially costly expenses:
Any medical treatment that happens outside of a public hospital. This includes outpatient treatments and treatments in a private hospital.
Supplementary medical services. GP visits, specialist visits, blood tests and prescriptions are often not covered unless they are done in a hospital as part of your hospital treatment.
Life-flights and other evacuations. New Zealand is full of remote areas. If you get injured out there and need life-flighted to a hospital, it's you (or your insurance company) that will eat the cost. Same thing if you needed to be flown back to Australia for treatment.
Bringing a companion to be by your side. If you get injured and want someone from Australia to come and be by your side, you'll have to pay for it unless you have the right travel insurance.
Most medical treatment on a cruise. Unless there is a Medicare-approved doctor on board your cruise ship, you won't be covered for treatment even on Australian or New Zealand territorial waters.
Loss of income due to your medical situation. If you can’t work because of the condition you're being treated for, the RHCA won't cover you but travel insurance can.
New Zealand is an adventure-lover's paradise, with activities like skiing, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, rock climbing, trekking and more. You should be aware that some travel insurance policies will exclude certain of these activities from cover unless you purchase an added adventure pack or in the case of skiing, a snow-sports pack.
You'll have to look closely at each policy to see what they cover, because the way each insurer decides which adventure activities to cover will differ from insurer to insurer. Most will automatically cover low-risk activities like basketball and low-altitude trekking. A fewer number of policies will automatically cover medium-risk activities like rafting and skiing. A fewer still will cover high-risk activities like rock climbing and bungee jumping.
Most travel insurance policies won’t automatically cover medical emergencies that happen while you are skiing or snowboarding, and the RHCA won't cover an ambulance to get you from the snow fields to hospital. So even with the reciprocal health care agreement, you could be forking out thousands of dollars in hospital bills if you’re seriously injured.
That's where ski cover comes in (it can also be called snow sports or winter sports cover). In addition to the medical cover, it will also help cover your gear and expensive lift passes.
Getting you off the mountain and to a hospital. There's a good chance an accident on the slopes would require helicopter rescue and that can be expensive. Ski insurance can cover you for that.
Paying for unused lift passes, unused equipment hire and unused ski lessons. If extreme weather like a blizzard or avalanche keeps you off the slopes, ski cover can pay you back for unused lift passes, equipment hire and lessons that you've already paid for. It will also cover you if it's an illness or injury that ruins your plans.
Getting you to a new resort. Many snow travel insurance plans cover your transportation and accommodation expenses if bad weather forces you elsewhere.
Paying for damaged equipment. Ski insurance can pay you back for lost or damaged equipment and it can pay for you to rent equipment if yours is lost, damaged or delayed in transit.
Not everyone is heading to New Zealand to jump out of a plane or go mountain biking. The landscape itself is enough to attract tourists who just want to take in the scenery at their leisure, like families and seniors.
Here are a few situations where you might need to make a few tweaks to your cover or find something specifically suited to your circumstances:
If you're pregnant, you'll have to let the insurer know. They'll usually cover you until a certain point in your pregnancy (usually 26-32 weeks) and as long as you're not travelling against your GP's advice. They'll even cover pregnancy-related complications unless it's something that you were aware of already. After the 26 or 32 weeks, they'll no longer cover your pregnancy but you'll still be covered for the other travel-related risks like lost luggage and travel delays.
If you're going to NZ for a working holiday, check your travel insurance policy's fine print. Insurers will exclude cover for hazardous work like offshore rigging, working underground or working as a climbing instructor or mountain guide.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you'll need to tell your insurer or else they could deny your claims or cancel your insurance altogether. They'll usually treat your condition in one of three ways: they'll cover it at no extra cost, cover it for an extra fee or not cover it at all (but continue to cover you for everything else). You may need to take a short medical assessment before they make their decision.
It's fairly easy to get travel insurance if you are over 65, although it does get a little harder the older you get. It works the same way as normal travel insurance except you'll have to pay a little more on account of your age. You'll have to declare your pre-existing conditions just as anyone else would, although the insurers may be a little more strict with seniors around what they'll cover and what they won't.
Entry requirements to different countries can change without notice. While at the time of publishing, travel insurance for New Zealand is not mandatory (unless on a working holiday visa) but it can change.
Double check Smartraveller.gov.au for the most up-to-date information. While it might not be mandatory, we at Finder, will always say it's a must when travelling.
New Zealand is known for being a hot-spot for adventure sports. Most insurance policies will actually cover you for bungee jumping, white water rafting, zip lining and hiking, however you should always check the PDS of your insurer.
Some brands might actually charge extra for this cover so it's best to keep an eye out.
Your Medicare card won't be accepted as such, but you can still get medical care through the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement. This is for emergency medical care only and may not include other expenses such as ambulances, own-going medications and hospital cash allowances.
Luckily for us Aussies, New Zealand is one of the cheapest destinations when it comes to travel insurance. Prices can start from $1.64* per day but will vary depending on your age, the duration of your trip and if you need any extra cover.
Use the comparison tool above to get live quotes and compare your options.
Definitely. Some brands will automatically include cover if you get injured on the slopes, other brands will offer an add-on pack that includes other benefits such as cover for your snow gear, lift tickets, emergency rescue and even accommodation.
Most rental cars already include some sort of standard insurance called a Collision Damage Waiver or a Loss Damage Waiver. These waivers protect you from having to pay out the full value of the rental car if it gets damaged or stolen. So instead of paying the full amount, the rental company will charge you an excess.
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