If you’ve booked your flights or accommodation, it’s time to start looking at travel insurance. The earlier you buy Schoolies travel insurance the better.
Why? One of the major components of most travel insurance policies is cancellation cover. Cancellation cover protects you from losses that are the result of you not being able to travel due to an unforeseen event. Those events could include:
Death or illness in the family
You’re injured in a motor vehicle accident
Heading to Bali for Schoolies? Read this first
Have you booked Schoolies in Bali? You need to think about travel insurance.
Because you're travelling outside of Australia you won't be covered by Medicare, so you or your family will need to pay the cost of any medical bills you might incur while there.
The Australian Government advises travelers to Indonesia to exercise caution, and in particular watch out for theft. Travel insurance covers you as well as your belongings.
Between 2010 and 2013, almost half of all potential rabies cases in Australians were the result of tourists being bitten by monkeys in Bali. Travel risks are very real, but so is the protection offered by travel insurance.
Will you be driving around on a moped? It's more dangerous than driving in Australia and travel insurance is one of the most suitable ways to get cover.
Why you should consider travel insurance for Schoolies
If you have to be evacuated or flown home following injury or illness. This provision provides a benefit for travel expenses for your evacuation or repatriation after a medical professional has advised your insurer that you are no longer fit for travel.
If you have to cancel your trip. This covers you in situations where you have to cancel your trip due to events outside of your control. This can include situations such as the death of a family member, natural disasters or a member of your travelling party being required to sit supplementary examinations.
If you have an accident or get sick while overseas. Your policy will cover you for overseas medical expenses up to your policy's benefit limit.
Accidental death. This benefit provides your estate with the funds needed to cover returning your body home should the worst happen.
If your luggage or valuable are lost or stolen. You will be covered for accidental loss, damage or theft of your luggage or personal items up to the limits of the policy.
If you get in some legal trouble. This covers your legal liability for compensation or damages if you are found to have acted in a negligent way and that negligence caused injury or damage to a third party.
Travel insurance exclusions Schoolies should know about
A travel insurance policy won't cover you for everything … it's crucial you know when you won't be able to fall back on your insurance.
Riding a moped without a licence. Most people wouldn’t drive a car if they didn’t have a licence but for some reason when on holidays, many travellers will jump (unlicensed) onto a motorbike or moped without a second thought. The use of any motor vehicle without a valid licence is prohibited.
You broke the law. If you’re making a claim and it’s found that you were breaking any laws at the time, your claim will be rejected.
Leaving your bags unattended. This is a big travel insurance no-no. If your bags are left in a public place unattended and they are stolen, you will not be able to make a claim. This can sometimes also extend to leaving your luggage in your public hostel.
Your claim is for a pre-existing condition. If you have any pre-existing conditions, you should let your Schoolies travel insurance provider know. Otherwise, you run the risk of having any claims rejected.
Ignoring travel warnings. This is especially important if you’re heading to Indonesia (Bali) and Thailand for Schoolies. If at the time you’re booking your travel there is a Do Not Travel warning, you will not be covered. The same goes for warnings related to natural events such as volcanic ash clouds.
You didn’t read the product disclosure statement (PDS). Before you buy any financial product, you need to read through the PDS. Doing so will make sure you know exactly what is covered by your Schoolies travel insurance policy.
Consequential loss. Is your face scrunched up because you don’t know what consequential loss means? You’re not alone. It’s a legalese way of saying that the insurer won’t cover you for claims relating to loss of enjoyment.
Will my travel insurance cover … Schoolies FAQs
Question: Does Schoolies travel insurance cover me for having my stomach pumped?
Answer: No. Travel insurance does not cover medical costs incurred while in Australia, so Gold Coast schoolies visitors won't have options for this. Additionally, if you end up in hospital overseas needing your stomach pumped, you won’t be covered because most travel insurance policies exclude cover for events that are the direct result of alcohol.
Question: Does travel insurance cover me if I am having a stopover in a country not listed on my policy?
Answer: While policies differ on the duration of the stopover, many policy will provide you with cover for stopovers of up to two nights.
Question: Am I covered for damage to my hotel room?
Answer: It depends. If you invited people into your hotel room and things got out of hand, you may find that your travel insurer will deny your claim for personal liability as they may say that it was not an unforeseen event.
Question: Will I be covered if I’m under the influence?
Answer: Similar to getting your stomach pumped, you won’t be covered if you’re either in Australia or the claim is the result of Alcohol.
Question: Am I able to ride a motorcycle or moped?
Answer: It depends. If you hold a valid licence and were obeying the road rules, you will be covered. If you are either riding a bike unlicensed or on the back of a bike with an unlicensed driver, you won’t be covered.
Question: Is there cover if I contact a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Answer: No. Travel insurance does not cover you for the treatment of STIs.
Question: What happens if my luggage is stolen from my share room?
Answer: It will depend on your policy. Many travel insurance policies do not provide cover if your luggage is not secured and is in a public area, for example in a hostel.
Real world Schoolies claims
Fast Cover CEO Dean Van Es said, “Travellers going overseas to celebrate the end of high school should be aware that travel insurance is important, but if you get sick or injure yourself while intoxicated or commit any illegal activity, your travel insurance is unlikely to provide cover for any medical costs.” The case studies below are examples of claims handled by Fast Cover from Schoolies travellers.
Jodie – Las Vegas, United States
Claim: $20,000 AUD^
Jodie was partying with friends in a Las Vegas casino when she blacked out and had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance. When she woke up the hospital demanded upfront payment. Jodie insisted that her drink had been spiked and submitted an insurance claim to cover the medical bill, however, her claim was declined as tests revealed no drugs in her system and a blood alcohol level over five times the legal limit.
Sarah – Kuta Beach, Indonesia
Claim: $7,870 AUD^
Sarah submitted a claim after her bag containing jewellery, cash and iPhone was stolen. She hid her bag under a beach towel to go for a swim but by the time she returned it was gone. Sarah reported the theft but was advised by her travel insurer she would not be covered as she had left her belongings unsupervised in a public place.
Harry – Phuket, Thailand
Claim: $5,222 AUD^
Aussie high school graduate Harry had his claim for medical expenses declined after crashing his hired motorcycle in Thailand. He was rushed to a local hospital and treated for a head wound and other minor injuries. When Harry later called his travel insurer to assist with the medical bills, he found he wasn’t eligible for a claim as he had not been wearing a helmet and was also riding illegally. He had to pay the hospital bill himself when it would have covered if he had simply obtained an international licence and been wearing a helmet.
Names changed to protect travellers identity. ^Claims figures are based on AGA travel insurance claims data for Australian travellers to the specified regions between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015. Source: Allianz Global Travel Assistant.
Tips from Fast Cover
Fast Cover also had these tips for Schoolies travellers:
Travel insurance policies generally exclude cover if intoxication is a factor (e.g. alcohol poisoning, drug overdose, injuries sustained while intoxicated).
Travel insurance does not provide cover if you are participating in an illegal activity (e.g. underage drinking, trespassing, riding a motorcycle/moped without the appropriate licence).
Travellers should also be aware they can't claim for lost or stolen luggage left behind in a hotel, vehicle, or left unattended in a public place.
Travellers must also report any theft and obtain a police report within 24 hours to be eligible to claim.
Travellers should keep a copy of receipts or take photos of valuable items as proof of ownership for claims.
Regardless of whether you are eligible for a claim or not, travel insurance will still provide emergency assistance.
The emergency assistance team can coordinate with doctors or hospital staff, organise for a traveller to be moved to another hospital or flown home, and arrange for a translator if needed.
Risks you can face at schoolies
Schoolies can be one of the best times of your life but there are many risks.
Violence. According to schoolies.org.au, you are roughly 10 times more likely to get hit with a coward punch while attending Schoolies on the Gold Coast than at any other destination.
Drugs. It's easy to get swept up in the moment but doing drugs while at Schoolies is a huge risk, not only because you stand the chance of winding up with a criminal record, but because you could also do serious damage to health.
Criminal records. In 2014 there were 131 schoolies arrested on a total of 152 charges during Gold Coast Schoolies week. In 2015, this figured plummeted to 37 schoolies arrests on 48 charges over the Gold Coast week.
Stolen personal items. If you’re planning on having a party back at your apartment, make sure your items are secure. Your travel insurance won’t cover you in situations where you didn’t take all the necessary precautions to ensure your property’s safety.
Accommodation. Make sure you’re aware of any of all the rules and regulations your accommodation has in place. This can include anything from no glass bottles in hotels rooms to no guests after hours.
Stay safe on your balcony. Every year there are new pictures of Schoolies climbing out over their balconies, and new pictures of the resulting accidents. Keep your arms and legs inside the banister at all times.
Drink spiking. Drink spiking is a real concern at Schoolies. Keep an eye on both your drinks and your mates.
Swimming. About a third of all drowning deaths are because the swimmer was drunk or under the influence of other drugs. Stay out of the water if you've been out on the town.
Alcohol fines. While these won’t land you a criminal record, they are an expense best avoided. Many Schoolies are only 17 years old at the time, so it's open season for fines and tickets.
The dangers of driving to schoolies
According to NRMA claims data, young drivers are five times more likely to write their car off in a collision than any other group. They have more crashes, and more severe crashes. This means that if you’re driving to Schoolies there is distinctly increased risk of you being involved in a serious road incident, largely because there are simply so many young and inexperienced drivers on the road at once.
Don’t drink and drive. Police are out in force during this period with roadside testing for both drugs and alcohol. Not only are you risking your life and the lives of others on the road, you run the risk of having a serious blemish on your permanent record.
Stop, revive, survive. If you’re making the drive up the coast, make sure you have planned out your breaks. Driver fatigue is almost as dangerous as drink driving.
Keep your hands off your phone. Drivers aged between 18-24 are more likely than many other groups to use their mobile while driving.
Where is Schoolies?
There are many popular Schoolies destinations both here and abroad. The most iconic Schoolies destination is Surfers on the Gold Coast but that is only one of many exciting destinations available to this year’s leavers.
Popular domestic Schoolies destinations
Nestled in Queensland’s Whitsundays, Airlie Beach is fast becoming one of the more popular Schoolies destinations.
The centre of town offers partygoers the perfect place to recover during the day at the Airlie Beach lagoon, while the main streets offer an array of restaurants, pubs and other entertainment.
Forty minutes south of the spiritual home of Schoolies is Byron Bay.
Bryon has long been the sanctuary for bohemians and sun-seekers, which is why it’s probably the most popular Schoolies destination after Surfers Paradise. Take a stroll down Johnson Street and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to bars, clubs and all kinds of entertainment.
For those looking for something a little less hectic, Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast offers revellers a good time at a less frantic pace. Take in the sites such as the Australia Zoo or Aussie World. Catch some rays on the beach or, for the more daring, go skydiving.
Only a hop-skip-and-a-jump north from Caloundra is Coolum, which has a similar vibe to Caloundra and is conveniently located next to the Maroochydore airport. There’s plenty to do and see while in Coolum, with restaurants, cafes and bars all right near the beach.
Surfers Paradise is the number one Schoolies destination and leavers Mecca. Each year roughly 30,000 Schoolies flood into Surfers Paradise and take over the streets. From the epic beach parties to the legendary Jupiters Casino, there is something for anyone looking to have a big night. During the day, you can kick back at one of the dozens of pubs and cafes, head to one of the many beaches to sleep off the night before or go shopping at Pacific Fair.
Located in Victoria on the Great Ocean Road, Lorne plays host to those not wanting to brave the hustle and bustle of Schoolies on the Gold Coast. Enjoy the idyllic seaside experience but with the added bonus of dedicated Schoolies events and activities.
Yet another Whitsundays destination, Magnetic Island offers an affordable Schoolies experience set in an amazing location. Situated on an island of mostly National Park and right near the Great Barrier Reef, Magnetic Island provides a Schoolies experience unlike any other.
Noosa, located about 20 minutes north of Coolum on the Sunshine Coast, provides a laid back Schoolies week. Head to Hastings Street for all of the bars, restaurant and shops or take in the sun and stunning vistas available at Noosa heads.
Just like Lorne, Torquay is part of a growing Schoolies down South movement, offering the seaside Schoolies experience but at a bit of a slower pace.
Domestic travel risks
Alcohol fuelled violence. Going to Schoolies means that you’re going to be out with a lot of people on the drink. Play it safe.
The surf. Australia is known for its beaches but play it safe and swim between the flags.
Wanting to get your Schoolies on overseas? Bali is the premier party destination. Kuta has official Schoolies crew, along with all of the other things you’d expect from a Bali getaway: sun, surf and a whole lot of bars.
Bali travel risks
Natural disaster. Be aware of volcanic disturbances and other events that could impact your travel.
Terrorism. Terrorism an ongoing concern in the region. Be sure to check advisories prior to travel.
Don’t drink the water. The water in Bali is notorious for giving people the dreaded Bali Belly. Stick to the bottled kind.
Get your vaccinations. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date prior to travel.
The benefits of heading to Fiji for Schoolies is that the events are generally only available for Schoolies. This means no toolies or families, just people wanting to party. Many of these events are set on islands that have been hired specifically for Schoolies parties.
Fiji travel risks
Theft. Just like with most popular overseas travel destination, theft is a big concern.
Mosquitos. Fiji is a high risk area for mosquito borne illnesses such as Dengue
Season. Be careful travelling to Fiji between November and April as it is cyclone season.
Similar to the Fijian Schoolies experience, Vanuatu can provide you with a toolie free holiday experience. Most events are on islands that are reserved purely for Schoolies travellers.
Vanuatu travel risks
Theft. Theft, trespassing and unlawful entry are an increasing problem.
Natural disaster. Vanuatu has active volcanoes so check government warnings prior to travel.
Advice for parents whose children are off to Schoolies
Are your kids off to Schoolies? If so, here are some simple tips to put your mind at ease:
Make sure their vaccinations are up to date. This is especially important if your kids are off overseas to high risk countries such as Indonesia or Thailand for Schoolies.
Don’t skimp on travel insurance. Make sure you send them off with a policy that provides them with the cover they need. Be sure to enlighten them to the alcohol exclusions before they go.
Check the Schoolies travel insurance policy for them. You know that you’re kids aren’t going to review the PDS, so it’s best to make sure it covers what they need.
Tell them to leave their gadgets at home. Try and talk your children out of taking items such as laptops or iPads to Schoolies. Not only do they run the risk of having them stolen or damaged, most Schoolies travel insurance will apply depreciation when assessing the claim.
Check the conditions of free cover. If your son or daughter is planning on using the complimentary insurance offered by their credit card provider, make sure they satisfy the cover conditions. Most policies require a percentage of the trip be paid for using the card to activate the policy.
Buy them a first aid kit. They may not like it but it is something that can come in real handy. Throw in some Alka-Seltzer and condoms for good measure.
Create a Schoolies checklist
Where you are staying?
Have you booked your accommodation?
Who are you travelling with?
Have you got your Schoolies wristband?
Are any of the members of your group under 18?
How are you getting to and from your accommodation?
Do you have travel insurance?
Are you allowed alcohol in your room?
Are you allowed glass bottles in your room?
Are the restrictions on who can be in your room?
Are there any conditions relating to rowdiness?
Have you registered your overseas travel with DFAT?
Are you old enough to drink?
Do you have an “emergency plan”?
Going on a cruise for Schoolies
Going on a cruise? Make sure your travel insurance covers you for cruise travel. While some policies cover cruise travel as standard, some insurers require you take out additional cover.
Even if you're only travelling in Australian waters, you may be require to take out an international policy as these policies provide cover for medical and repatriation.
Red Frogs Australia aim to provide a positive presence within their party culture as they assist leavers in getting home safely, cooking them food, cleaning up and handing out red frogs for that late night sugar rush.
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Richard Laycock is Finder's insurance editor, and has spent the last five years wrangling insurance product disclosure statements. His musings about insurance have appeared on Money Mag, Yahoo Finance, and Travel Weekly. When he’s not helping people make sense of insurance fine print, he is testing the quality of cocktails in his newfound 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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