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Travel insurance and heatwaves. What you can (and can’t) claim for


Travellers escaping the Aussie winter risk having their plans hit by extreme heat.

Hundreds of millions of people from the US to Europe and Asia are dealing with severe heatwaves.

In the US, more than 110 million – about a third of the country – are under excessive heat warnings.

Lots of Aussie travellers are in these parts of the world. A look at your social media will confirm it. The stats do, too.

ABS figures show Australian residents made 830,750 trips overseas in May, nearly twice as many (420,110) as the same time last year.

Insurance provider World Nomads told Finder that 15% of its policyholders were heading to the US between June and November.

Can travel insurance help during a heatwave?

Yes. If you get sick from heat exhaustion or heatstroke, your insurance can generally meet the cost of your medical treatment.

This typically includes emergency medical assistance and any hospital expenses.

Many comprehensive policies have overseas medical cover as an 'unlimited' benefit.

However, if an existing medical condition flares up while you're away, you may not be able to claim.

You'd need to have covered the ailment as a pre-existing condition when taking out your policy.

What else does my insurance cover?

"The heatwave will have more effects than just medical," said insurance broker Don Shields.

Travel expenses and accommodation are among the costs which could also be claimable.

Shields explained: "A traveller may also need cover for missed connections. If you're travelling by train, the train speed might be reduced due to track buckling. Or, the service could be cancelled."

"This may incur extra costs for accommodation, meals or if you need to book alternate travel to catch up with other legs of the trip."

You could also claim if you can't reach your hotel for another reason. For example, if access has been cut off by a bushfire.

Book your insurance ASAP

Before you travel, check if Smartraveller has issued any updates or alerts about your destination.

It's best to take out insurance as soon as you confirm your trip dates. It means your pre-trip cancellation cover will be valid for longer.

This can be a huge help if you're forced to change your plans for an unforeseen reason covered by your provider.

One example would be an unexpected illness or death of a close relative.

It can also cover natural disasters, as long as they aren't considered a "known event".

We haven't seen prolonged hot weather as being a claimable event under trip cancellation coverage, but you could always check with your insurer ahead of time.

Policies can differ a lot

A decent policy will include a range of benefits outside of those mentioned above. This includes cover for personal possessions and lost or stolen baggage.

A recent Finder survey found 8% of respondents had lost personal items while abroad in the past 12 months.

Finder research has also found a difference of $906 between the cheapest and most expensive comprehensive policies.

Make sure you consider a range of options when you're looking for cover.

Find a competitive deal on your travel insurance and get peace of mind ahead of your next trip.

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