Basic Travel Insurance

Are you looking for entry level cover? Compare basic travel insurance policies and get the cover that's right for you

No matter where you’re planning on travelling around the world, it makes sense to take out some form of basic travel insurance cover before you set off. While you can opt for comprehensive cover if you want, there is an extensive selection of basic travel insurance policies available for budget-conscious travellers.

Cheap travel insurance provides cover for all the essentials, including overseas medical expenses, accidental death and personal liability, and you can take out a policy without breaking the bank.

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What to look for in a basic policy

Budget travel insurance policies are designed to offer financial protection against common risks and worst-case scenario situations. The most important feature they provide cover for is overseas medical and hospital expenses. If you fall ill or are injured while overseas and don’t have travel insurance in place, you could soon find yourself facing sizeable medical bills. However, basic travel insurance provides coverage for your overseas medical and hospital expenses, including ambulance transportation and medical repatriation back to Australia if necessary.

Cheap travel insurance will also provide cover for cancellation fees and lost deposits, which is very handy if circumstances outside your control (for example the death of a relative) force you to cancel or cut short your journey. Cover for the loss and theft of your luggage and personal belongings is another common inclusion, while emergency evacuations, delayed flights, emergency worldwide assistance and personal liability protection are other regular features.

What does basic travel insurance mean?

When we say basic travel insurance, insurance providers use a range of different terms to refer to their entry-level policies. Common names include medical only cover, standard cover, essentials cover or budget cover.

Some base level policies will only provide financial protection for overseas emergency medical assistance, your overseas medical and hospital expenses, and personal liability. As medical expenses pose the biggest financial risk when you’re abroad, this is a crucial form of coverage.

Other basic policies will offer cover for an increased range of risks. Some will include benefit payments for accidental death or disablement while others will provide protection for lost and stolen baggage, trip cancellations and lost deposits, travel delay and lost or stolen travel documents.

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you’re fully aware of what your insurer’s cheap travel insurance policy does and does not cover.

Is basic cover enough? What level of travel insurance do I need?

Before you choose a basic travel insurance policy, take the time to consider exactly what level of cover you need. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where am I travelling and how long will I be away? You’ll need a policy that covers you for all of your destinations and for the amount of time you will be travelling. It’s also worth remembering that you won’t be covered if you visit an area for which the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a travel advisory.
  • Do I have pre-existing conditions? The cover available for pre-existing conditions varies between insurers. You may need to find an insurance provider and a policy that are flexible about their treatment of pre-existing medical conditions.
  • What do I want to do on my holiday? Will you be riding a motorbike, going skiing or participating in adventure sports? If so, you may need to check your policy’s list of exclusions and maybe opt for additional cover.
  • Do I just need cover for myself or for my whole family? You’ll want to make sure your kids are protected when you travel, so consider investing in a policy for your family.
  • How would I manage financially if something went wrong? Would you be able to cope financially if your luggage and personal belongings were stolen? What about if you lost your job and had to cancel your trip, forcing you to wave goodbye to several non-refundable deposits you have already paid?

The answers to these questions will help you decide what level of travel insurance you need. While a basic travel insurance policy provides the essential protection many need, other travellers like the security and confidence that a comprehensive policy offers.

Does credit card travel insurance provide enough basic cover?

Another option to consider when booking your holiday is that many high-end credit cards offer complimentary basic travel insurance. Such policies typically provide cover for a wide range of risks, including everything from overseas medical expenses and trip cancellations to lost or stolen luggage and rental vehicle excess.

As such, these policies can be extremely handy if you’re looking for a basic level of cover for your trip. You’re technically already paying for the cover when you fork out for your card’s annual fee, so why not use this included feature of your credit card?

However, credit card travel insurance does have its downsides. As mentioned, the level of cover provided is often fairly basic, with lower limits and less flexibility than you would find on standalone basic travel insurance policies. You’ll also have to satisfy certain conditions to activate your coverage, such as paying for a certain amount of your holiday with your credit card.

Having said that, credit card travel insurance policies are definitely worth considering for budget-conscious travellers. Examine the level of cover your card provides when deciding on a basic travel insurance policy for your next holiday.

How can I save on cover?

Looking to save money on your cheap travel insurance policy? Take advantage of these handy tips.

  • Shop around. Don’t settle for the first policy you come across. Comparing quotes online is both fast and simple, so get at least three quotes from different insurers and see how they stack up against one another.
  • Read the fine print. Everyone has heard horror stories of insurance companies refusing to pay claims because of hidden exclusions. Reading the PDS of any policy you’re considering buying will give you a clear picture of what each plan covers and ensures you don’t end up paying for cover you don’t actually need.
  • Choose a bigger excess. Many insurers will give you the option to choose a higher excess in return for lower premiums.
  • Consider a multi-trip policy. If you’re a frequent traveller who takes multiple trips each year, why not look at a multi-trip policy? These policies cover all your trips across a 12-month period and can be a much cheaper option than taking out an individual insurance plan for each separate trip.
  • Keep an eye out for discounts. Promotions and discounts from insurers can help you enjoy sizeable savings, while promo codes can also help shave plenty off the cost of cover.
  • Choose the right level of cover. Don’t pay for a comprehensive policy if you don’t need one, and make sure you’re not paying extra for optional cover that you’re never likely to use.
  • Be upfront and honest. It’s your duty to disclose any relevant information to your insurer when you apply for cover, including any pre-existing medical conditions. Failing to tell your insurer the truth from the outset will lead to your claim being rejected and you being significantly out of pocket.
  • Be wary of excess charges from travel agent's. This last tip is a very important one. While it may seem convenient to buy a basic travel insurance policy from your travel agent at the same time you book your holiday, this can result in unprecedented costs. Agents can add big commissions on top of the price of the policies they sell, so if you want cheap travel insurance you’re generally better off finding a policy on your own terms.

Frequently asked questions

When do I need to buy travel insurance?

The best time to take out cover is as soon as you have booked your trip. If you plan to leave it until the last minute there’s a big risk of forgetting to buy a policy.

Does basic travel insurance cover medical expenses?

Yes, basic travel insurance provides cover for overseas medical and hospital expenses.

What extra features can I find in a comprehensive policy?

While the level of coverage offered differs between providers, comprehensive policies include cover for things like additional expenses, travel delays, loss of income, rental vehicle excess and much more.

How can I compare cheap travel insurance policies? has a wealth of information and resources to help you examine the pros and cons of different insurers and their policies. You can also read product disclosure statements and obtain quotes from multiple insurers.

Speak with a provider about getting basic travel insurance

Cheap travel insurance can offer crucial protection for travellers on a budget, ensuring that you will be able to cope financially if something goes wrong on your trip. However, make sure to compare multiple basic travel insurance policies before choosing the right one for you.

Compare basic travel insurance policies

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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