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Ask a travel insurance expert: What cover do I need for my Christmas trip?

Bali Christmas trip (1)

I'm going to Bali over the Christmas holidays. What travel insurance should I get? Will it cover me if my airline delays or cancels my flight?

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To answer both of your questions, you should get comprehensive travel insurance because it can cover flight delays and cancellation expenses.

A bare-bones travel insurance policy will cover you for medical expenses and maybe lost luggage but that's about it.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy covers much more. For example, in your situation, it can pay to get you on an alternative flight if your airline cancels and can't find you a suitable alternative.

It can also cover some of your accommodation costs if your trip is disrupted.

On-time arrivals figures are still significantly lower than average, 69.3% compared to 81.8% according to the Department of Transport. It's an inclusion that could be worth it.

How to find a policy with cancellation cover

Our travel insurance quote engine can help narrow your options. It lets you select the level of cover you want.

It also gives you an overview of what each policy includes and the dollar limit on how much you can claim.

What types of cancellation are covered?

There's one more important consideration – the cancellations your travel insurance will actually cover.

Insurers typically only cover you for certain reasons. You can usually find these reasons outlined in the provider's product disclosure statement (PDS).

For example, Fast Cover outlines a handful of ways it can cover cancellations and trip disruptions.

This includes if your flight is cancelled or delayed because "of a strike, riot, hijack, civil protest, severe weather or natural disaster".

If your flight was cancelled or delayed for another reason though, you might not be covered.

Similarly, both Tick and InsureandGo can cover cancelling your trip before you set off but only if it falls under 1 of the 9 reasons it lists in its PDS.

Some of these very specific reasons include:

  • Your unforeseeable death, injury or illness.
  • Going to court to be a witness on a jury.
  • You become pregnant after you've bought the policy (but you will be more than 30 weeks pregnant, or 20 weeks if you are expecting more than 1 baby) at the start of or during your trip.

What to look for in the product disclosure statement

Lots of travel insurers are like this. That's why, as much as it's no fun, you should always read the PDS before you buy to see what's listed.

A good rule of thumb when you're looking – the longer the list, the more situations it's likely to cover.

If you're confused by product disclosure statements, you're not alone. Luckily, a few are clearer than others.

For instance, CoverMore's and Southern Cross Travel Insurance's PDS do not contain a long list of situations it will cover.

Instead, with SCTI, it states, "We cover you if you need to cancel or change your travel arrangements before your journey because of an unexpected event." It also contains some helpful examples.

If you're looking for peace of mind, this is maybe a better option. It's likely to cover you for most unexpected events, not just a few reasons that are listed in a PDS.

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