Expat heading off on travel artwork

Travel Insurance for Australian Expats

Yes! You can get travel insurance if you're an Australian expat living abroad. Find out what options are available...

If you’re an Australian currently residing overseas or looking to move overseas for work or study, protecting yourself with travel insurance is crucial. This article will explore the options available for expats looking to get travel insurance.

Key reasons you should have travel insurance before you leave include the following:

  • You may already be overseas and therefore not eligible to purchase cover with an Australian insurer.
  • You may want to take out cover for short trips to other countries near your place of residence overseas.
  • Your current policy may have expired and you’re unable to renew again.
  • You may need cover for return trips to Australia.
  • If you injure someone overseas or damage their property. Travel insurance often includes liability cover up to $20 million.
  • If your travel documents or credit cards are lost or stolen. Travel insurance will cover the cost of replacing them.

What types of cover are available for expats?

There are several options available if you are an Australian working overseas:

  • Already overseas cover. A number of Australian providers offer cover for Australians already overseas.
  • Travel insurance from an international provider. Providers in other countries can provide cover to Australians overseas.
  • One-way cover. This type of policy covers you on your outgoing trip only and lets you make a claim without having to return to Australia. This cover is usually only available if you plan on returning to Australia.
  • Long-term cover. If your work or study abroad is only for a short period of time, a long-term policy may offer adequate protection. Some insurers offer “backpacker” cover for journeys up to 18 months long.
  • Cover for other countries. If you plan to see visit neighbouring countries while you’re overseas, you’ll need travel insurance that covers trips to those destinations.
  • Reciprocal Health Care Agreement. You may be eligible to receive subsidised health care if you are travelling to a country that is part of the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.
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How long can I be covered for?

You’ll  need to obtain travel insurance that covers you for the entire period of your residency in a foreign country. Most travel insurance policies will only cover you for a maximum of 12 months, but there are a number of “backpacker” policies that provide cover for up to 18 months.

What if my stay will be longer than 18 months?

To be insured for longer than 18 months, you need to renew your 12-month policy. This can be achieved by purchasing a second policy shortly before the first one expires.

If you need cover for longer than 24 months, you’ll probably need a visa to remain in your country of residence and be required to take out adequate health insurance for the duration of your stay. In this case, travel insurance is no longer essential, except in the circumstances mentioned previously, such as side trips to other countries.

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How does travel insurance for expats work?

Several international companies offer expatriate travel insurance to Australians currently living abroad for single trips or multiple journeys. Some options include:

  • Covers Australian passport holders in the UK
  • Cover for one-way trips up to 12 months long and round-trip journeys
  • Cover for repatriation back to the UK or Australia
ACE Expatriate Insurance
  • Cover for employees while seconded on business outside country of residence
  • Cover for medical expenses, maternity cover, evacuation/repatriation cover and ancillary benefits for dental and optical
World Nomads
  • Cover for residents of Australia anywhere in the world
  • Buy, extend and claim online from anywhere in the world
  • 72-hour waiting period from the date the policy is issued for medical expenses

Best travel insurance for expats*? What should I look out for?

Unfortunately, we can't tell you what the best policy for you is as an expat overseas. You will need to consider your own cover requirements and compare a number of options to find a suitable option. You can however make the process easier by following these steps.

  • Is the provider well known? Who underwrites the policies? Do your research and make sure the provider you choose is reputable.
  • 24/7 emergency assistance? Ensure you find a company that offers 24/7 assistance and that they work with a reputable emergency assistance provider. It's also worth checking to see if they have an English-speaking customer service panel if taking out cover with an international insurer.
  • Level of cover provided? Check the level of cover you will be provided in the event of a claim, particularly in regards to medical expenses.
  • Additional cover options? Can you tailor your policy further through additional cover such as ski, golf or cruise cover?
  • Ability to adjust cover? You should be able to make adjustments to your policy before and after the policy commencement date. This may include extending your period of cover, adding additional options or adding family members to your policy.
  • Beware of government exclusions. You need to make sure your insurer will actually cover the country you plan to visit. Find out if there have been any travel warnings issued for the country that may impact whether or not you will be eligible in the event of a claim.
  • Watch out for benefit limits for personal items. Each insurer will have a maximum benefit that will be paid for expensive items. You may be covered for up to $10,000 but there is likely to be a per-item limit that is much lower. Learn more about covering expensive items.
  • Don't just look at the price. It's no good saving a few extra dollars if your stuck with a dud policy that doesn't actually give you the cover you need. Take the time to compare a range of options and find out what else you can get from an essentials or comprehensive policy by paying a bit extra.
  • Excess you will be charged? Know what you will be charged in the event of a claim, and watch out for policies with high excess charges.
  • Car hire excess offered? If you plan on hiring a car frequently while overseas, it’s worth finding a policy that offers car rental excess insurance.

More tips on how to compare travel insurance companies

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When will I be eligible for health care?

The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement covers the cost of essential medical treatment for Australians in some countries. In order to receive cover, you’ll need to show medical authorities either:

  • Your Australian passport or another valid document that shows you are a permanent resident of Australia
  • A valid medicare card

Countries that participate in the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement include:

  • New Zealand
  • The United Kingdom
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Sweden
  • The Netherlands
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Malta
  • Slovenia
  • Norway
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Is travel insurance still worth getting if I’m already covered by the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

Yes. The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement will only provide subsidised cover for medical emergencies overseas and does not provide the same level of cover for medical expenses that can be received under a comprehensive policy. Travel insurance will also cover you for other unforeseen events, such as:

  • Loss, theft and damage of luggage and expensive items
  • Travel cancellation and trip delay from transport carriers
  • Car rental excess charges if you are involved in an accident
  • Stolen money or travel cards
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Can I get health cover if I am an Australian overseas in a country that isn’t part of the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

Some private health insurers in Australia provide health care plans designed for Australians moving overseas. This option may be suitable if:

  • You are moving abroad and plan to work or study.
  • You are moving overseas for a prolonged period of time, potentially even to retire.
  • You live and work overseas but move between countries frequently.

Private health cover is available either as a single policy or as a family policy.

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How does travel insurance work if I’m already overseas?

If you’re already overseas, some Australian insurers have policies that will cover you. Common conditions of these policies include:

  • A waiting period from the start date of the policy (usually between 3-7 days) where claims related to injury or illnesses are excluded.
  • Your journey must end in Australia
  • Your cover will only commence from the date the policy is issued. This means you won’t be covered for retroactive trip cancellations.
  • No cover for pre-existing medical conditions, other than those automatically covered on your policy

If you’re no longer an Australian resident, which is a requirement of Australian travel insurance policies, you will either have to purchase a non-resident travel insurance policy (if returning to Australia) or find an insurer in your current country of residence who will cover you when you are travelling.

Compare travel insurance from Australian brands if already overseas

Brands Product Product Details Apply
1Cover Already Overseas Travel Insurance

Unlimited overseas medical expenses

$50,000 disruption of journey

Unlimited cancellation fees and lost deposits

$5,000 luggage and personal effects

$5 million personal liability cover

Get quoteMore info
Travel Insurance Direct Single Trip International

Unlimited overseas medical expenses

Unlimited overseas emergency medical assistance

Unlimited cancellation fees and lost deposits

$12,000 luggage and personal effects

Get quoteMore info
Travel Insuranz Deluxe

$10,500 cancellation and lost deposits

$10,000,000 overseas medical expenses

$7,500,000 personal liability

$5,000 luggage and personal effects

Get quoteMore info
Go Insurance Go Plus Single Trip Cover

$10,000,000 alternative travel expenses

$10,000,000 overseas medical expenses

$7,500 luggage and personal effects

$5,000,000 personal liability

Get quoteMore info
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Some final questions you may have

Q. Can I get travel insurance for a visit to Australia or when I return?

A. Cover options may be limited if you plan to return home to Australia. If you’ve been away for more than five years, your resident status may have lapsed or expired, unless you’re an Australian citizen. In this case, you may need to obtain non-resident travel insurance in order to visit or return to Australia. Some insurers specialise in expat travel insurance that can provide cover for your return home.

Q. Can I get cover with an Australian insurer if I’m already overseas and don’t want to return home?

A. Generally, cover is only available to Australians who plan to return to Australia. If you do not plan to return to Australia, look for an expatriate policy or a policy from an insurer in your new country of residence.

Q. Am I better off getting an annual multi trip policy if I'm an expat living overseas?

A. Annual travel insurance can a good option if you are planning on taking multiple trips within a 12-month period. If your residing in another country and planning on taking short trips to neighbouring countries or larger tips throughout the year, it could be cheaper and more affordable to get an annual policy. It's worth noting that the maximum period of cover for individual trips is generally either 30, 60 or 90 days.

Q. What currency will my claim be paid in?

A. In the event of a claim, you will be paid in the currency of the country that has issued the policy.

Q. Can I get cover for my family if they live overseas with me?

A. It will depend on the conditions of your policy. There are a number of Australian insurers that offer complimentary cover for dependent children provided they are travelling with you for the duration of the trip. It's worth speaking with your insurer to find out how they will be covered.

Q. What do I do if I suffer an injury or become ill overseas?

A. In the event of serious illness or injury, it's crucial to firstly receive the appropriate medical attention. Contact your insurer as soon as possible to let them know what has happened so you can find out what evidence will be required for your claim. Your insurer can assist you with organising the payment of your bill and make necessary transport and accommodation arrangements for your return home. It's crucial to make sure your insurer has a 24/7 emergency medical assistance program to assist with your repatriation.

Q. Will my insurer return me to Australia or back to the country I am residing in as an expatriate?

It will depend on the policy you choose. Some insurers will have the option to return you to your country of residence if necessary. This is usually available as an additional option.

Q. Can I extend my policy while I am away?

A. Generally yes. Most insurers will let you extend your policy provided you give do so at least a week before the policy concludes.

Q. Am I covered for working abroad?

A. If you are an expatriate engaged in a full-time position, cover should generally be provided by your employer. If you are looking to undertake casual work while travelling, you may be eligible for cover provided the work isn't labour intensive.

Q. Can I get cover for one-way trips back home to Australia?

A. Yes. It is possible for you to take out a one-way trip policy with an international insurer up to a period of 12 months.

Q. I am an expat from overseas currently living in Australia, can I take out travel insurance?

A. Yes, it is possible for overseas expats currently living in Australia to take out cover. Learn more about travel insurance for non-residents in Australia.

Q. I have to cancel my trip...will I be covered?

A. Most policies will provide cancellation cover for pre-booked flights, accommodation, tours and other expenses if you have to cancel your trip for reasons outside of your control. Find out when you will / wont be covered for trip cancellation.

Need to contact your embassy? Find details for Australian embassies in the map below

William Eve

Will is a personal finance writer for finder.com.au specialising in content on insurance. While he cannot give personal advice to clients, Will enjoys explaining the intricacies of different types of protective cover to help individuals and businesses find affordable cover that won't leave them underinsured.

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