Budget travel insurance

Looking for low cost travel insurance that still gives you cover for the essentials? Follow these simple steps.

No one wants to overpay for travel insurance but basing your comparison of policies just on price could leave you exposed in the event of a claim. Increased competition in the insurance space means you can still pick up budget travel insurance without having to skimp on the quality of your cover.

Ready to receive a quote for cover? Simply enter your details in the form below and compare prices from some of Australia’s travel insurance brands. Keep to learn more about getting budget travel insurance options?

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Simple steps to get budget travel insurance

The best way to find budget travel insurance that meets your needs is to shop around online.

  • Compare, compare, compare. Comparing policies from different providers will give you an idea of what’s out there and how much it costs. But bear in mind that ‘budget’ doesn’t just mean travel insurance at the lowest price. It has to be the right cover for your needs at the best price available.
  • What are you doing on your trip? It’s no use choosing the most comprehensive policy out there if half the features don’t actually apply to your trip. Consider your trip itinerary, what valuables you are taking with you, where you are travelling to and the risks that you might face and decide whether a basic policy will suffice.
  • Already covered? You could already be covered for some medical losses under Australia’s reciprocal health care agreement. You might also be covered for the loss of valuables under your home insurance policy
  • Customise. Then go looking for budget packages that include those forms of cover. If you can’t find a package that has exactly what you need, you can always customise one to suit, adding those items of cover you need and removing those that you don’t think you will need (i.e. adventure sports or dental cover)
    Traveling with your family or partner? If you are heading away with your partner, most policies will offer a discounted rate for a duo policy. Travelling with the kids? Most policies will provide complimentary child cover
  • Keep an eye out for discounts. Insurers are constantly offering new unique discounts and rewards to attract and maintain customers...check out current deals in the table below
  • Be aware of mark-up's on cover from your airline or travel agent. Travel insurance from your airline or travel agent can be more expensive as there may be a commission charge applied on top of the usual rate of the policy. In some cases you could be paying up to three times the cost of buying insurance directly.
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What will a basic policy usually cover?

Most budget travel packages will cover you for the three main areas where cover is usually required. These are medical and hospital cover, property theft or loss and trip delay or cancellation.

  • Medical and hospital cover. If you are travelling overseas, you may find that the country you are visiting has no reciprocal health care arrangement with Australia, in which case you would need medical and hospital cover to be able to afford treatment if you were ill or injured. And if the country you are visiting only has basic health care, then your medical and hospital cover would also need to include medical evacuation back to Australia.
  • Property theft or loss. If you are travelling in countries where crime is a problem, you would need to have property theft and loss coverage in case your luggage were to go missing or be stolen. And if you are carrying expensive electronics with you, such as cameras and laptops, you would need to take out extra cover, as most policies have a limit on the benefit paid for this type of cover.
  • Trip delay or cancellation. Just about any destination you travel to carries with it the risk of delays or cancellations, but some countries such as mainland China are more prone than most. So it would be wise to have trip interruption or cancellation insurance with your budget travel insurance, particularly if you are travelling with a group such as family or friends.
  • Personal Liability. Personal liability offers cover for legal expenses that may be incurred for bodily injuries or damage to property or other persons

While most budget travel insurance will cover these three main areas, the difference between policies will be how much coverage they provide in each area. You will need to consider this carefully when comparing policies, as being underinsured is almost as bad as having no insurance at all.

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Quick budget cover tips

Getting the right budget travel insurance involves being prepared to do your homework and shop around. The following are some useful tips for getting the cover at the right price.

  • Buy online direct from the insurer – travel agents and airlines are paid commissions to sell insurance, so pay less by cutting out the middle man and buying direct from the insurer.
  • Check the claim limits on frequently stolen items such as laptops and cameras and if they are too low, consider alternate cover, such as through your home and contents policy as ‘portable valuable goods’.
  • Look for policies that offer unlimited medical and hospital cover that includes evacuation expenses, cash in hospital and emergency expenses as standard.
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How do budget policies on Finder compare?

Check out the basic policies below from 4 insurers listed on finder.com.au to see how the features and cover compare;

Feature1Cover BasicsInsureandGoBare EssentialsVirgin Money Medical Only
Overseas Emergency Medical AssistanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Overseas Emergency Medical and HospitalUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Dental Cover$500$500$500
Personal Liability$5 million$1,500,000$5,000,000
Luggage and Personal EffectsNil$2,000Nil
ApplyGet QuoteGet QuoteGet Quote

Is the free travel Insurance on my credit card enough?

Wondering whether the cover provided on your credit card will be enough for your trip? Consider some of the benefits and drawbacks of this option;

  • It’s free
  • Will provide cover for luggage and personal belongings
  • Will provide cover for accidental injury and death while travelling overseas
  • Will provide cover for car rental excess insurance charges
  • Cover not impacted by the destination you are travelling to
  • Some card policies don’t have age limits applied
  • Quality cover for loss of cash
  • You must book all or part of your travel with the designated cared to get coverage
  • Cover will generally only apply for the cardholder - not their travelling companions
  • Do not cover domestic trips
  • Reduced cover limits for different benefits
  • Most cards will only provide cover for a maximum period of about 60 days whereas some standalone policies will cover up to 18 months of travel
  • Higher level of restrictions placed on pre-existing medical conditions
  • Adventure activities are rarely covered
  • Increased excess charged for claims

Budget travel cover traps to steer clear of

While budget travel insurance can provide adequate cover at a no-frills price, it can also have a downside if you happen to choose the wrong insurer. In that case, it can mean:

  • High excess charges - budget policies will usually have an increased excess charge applied in the event of a claim...this could be as high as $200 for a single claim
  • Increase level of exclusions and complicated exclusions - the policy might state you are covered for medical expenses but the complex conditions surrounding the cover could make it near impossible to claim. Know exactly what you will need for your claim to be paid
  • Sub item limits for luggage claims - Your policy may say you are covered for up to $5,000 in luggage cover but the sub-item limit may actually be much less...that is what you will be paid for individual items
  • What proof do you need - budget travel insurance policies may have complicated requirements for validating your claim in terms of proof of purchase and reports from police and travel operators. Know what you will need in order for your claim to be paid
  • Lack of cover for activities while away - You may find your policy won’t cover you for any adventure activities you plan on doing on your trip
  • No cover for pre-existing conditions - Budget policies are generally far less flexible when it comes to cover for pre-existing conditions. You may find that your condition is automatically covered under a comprehensive policy
  • Wear and tear on baggage claims - Claim will usually be reduced depending on the age of the item lost or stolen item
  • Claims for missed connections - If you are delayed getting to the airport to make your connecting flight, many policies will not cover the additional costs incurred
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Can I trust the insurance from my airline?

While it may be convenient to sign up for the cover offered from your airline when purchasing your ticket, be warned that not does it generally provide a much more basic level of cover, but it is also likely to be far more expensive.

Another trap to watch out for here is the purchase window is likely to timeout before you have even had a chance to review the terms and conditions of your policy.Check out the table below from a recent finder.com.au investigation to see just how much more expensive cover from your airline can be;

Average travel insurance policies for a single 21 year-old student

Average premiums

European TripThailand TripU.S.A Trip

Direct providers on finder.com.au

Basic cover

$ 86.07

$ 47.76

$ 83.29

Comprehensive cover

$ 132.04

$ 71.26

$ 123.62

Travel agencies

Basic cover

$ 179.00

$ 98.67

$ 185.67

Comprehensive cover

$ 190.50

$ 128.00

$ 216.50



$ 91.84

$ 81.06

$ 71.67


$ 149.26

$ 122.97

$ 176.70

Frequent traveller

$ 371.46

$ 371.46

$ 371.46

Budget travel? Tips for travelling on a shoestring

There’s an old saying that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel and while that is true, there are ways you can make travel insurance more affordable, apart from selecting only the items of cover you think you might need.

One way is to create a travel budget and cut some of the unnecessary fat from your holiday, so that you have enough money left over to purchase adequate insurance cover. Ways to achieve this can include:

  • Booking fares and accommodation online and well in advance to take advantage of discounts.
  • Booking in off-peak periods when demand is less and prices are lower.
  • Staying in serviced apartments rather than hotels and cooking your own meals rather than always eating out.
  • Making lunch the main meal in your day rather than dinner, as it is much cheaper.
  • Staying with friends and relatives where possible to save on accommodation costs.
  • Using public transport wherever possible, rather than hiring a car.
  • Avoiding the accommodation at tourist hot-spots and staying in nearby areas, which are much less expensive.
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Do’s and don'ts of low cost cover

As with any form of insurance, there are a number of do’s and don’ts when it comes to budget travel insurance. Some of these are:

  • Do shop around for the cover and compare a number of policies
  • Don’t buy from a travel agent or airline unless you want to pay more
  • Do get extra cover if you plan to participate in extreme sports or dangerous activities on your holiday.
  • Don’t rely on credit card insurance alone, as it probably won’t provide sufficient cover.
  • Do opt for an annual policy if you plan to travel several times in one year, as it will work out much cheaper and you won’t have to re-apply for cover.
  • Don’t travel to the US without medical and health cover.
  • Do read the fine print in a policy, particularly the exclusions
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General exclusions to be aware of

There are a range of common exclusions that you will find in most budget travel insurance policies. These include:

  • Leaving your luggage unattended – if you are deemed to have not taken sufficient care of your luggage, many insurers will not pay out if it is stolen.
  • Irresponsible behaviour - any reckless acts resulting in claims while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be covered.
  • Non-disclosure of medical conditions, activities and other relevant information during application – claims that you knew might arise but did not inform your insurer about will often be denied due to ‘known circumstance’.
  • Illegal behaviour – any act that is against the law in the country you are visiting will usually not be covered.
  • Government actions – anything that is confiscated or destroyed by a foreign government will not be covered.
  • Acts of war – any claim that arises from war, insurrection or military coup will not be honoured.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions - unless they are specified in the policy, these will not be covered.
  • Adventure activities – these will normally not be covered and will require additional insurance. They include skiing, sailing, mountaineering, sky diving, hang gliding and contact sports.
  • Scuba diving – this may be covered if you have a current licence or you are diving with an instructor, but only to a certain depth.
  • Air travel – any form of air travel, apart from in a licensed passenger aircraft, is not covered.

Apply for Budget Travel Insurance

As can be seen, it is possible to get well-priced budget travel insurance that provides cover in the three main areas of medical expenses, baggage loss and trip cancellations. The trick is to make sure that it is adequate cover for your needs and that it doesn’t contain any nasty surprises that you’ll only find out about when you go to make a claim.

Compare Budget Travel Insurance Policies and Apply Securely

*Price based on quote for basic policy for a 2 day trip for 18 year old traveller. Please note that prices are subject to change. Price last checked as correct on October 2015.

Richard Laycock

Richard is the Insurance Editor at Finder, wrangling insurance product disclosure statements for the better part of five years. His musings on insurance can be found the web including on Yahoo Finance, Travel Weekly and Dynamic Business. When he’s not helping Aussies make sense of insurance fine print, he is testing the quality of cocktails in his new found home of New York. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 certification in General Advice for Life Insurance.

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