Travel insurance protects the money you've spent on your trip in case something unexpected happens which might cause you financial burden. It assesses the risks involved with your trip and charges a premium to safeguard the costs associated with your travel plans. You can buy different types of travel insurance from single to multi-trip, basic to comprehensive, ski to cruise, or even a combination of the features. Travellers usually buy travel insurance to cover themselves for overseas medical expenses, cancellations and lost luggage on their trip. Think about the cost of your trip, the activities you'll take part in, the destination and duration, these will help you find the right travel insurance.
While every travel insurance policy is different, here are some of the mishaps that your policy can cover.
If you're sick or injured
If you get food poisoning, have an asthma attack or sprain your ankle and need to seek emergency medical help, you can claim your Overseas Medical Expenses.
If you need to cancel your trip
If you can't make the trip or need to cut it short because you get sick or a family member dies, you can recover non-refundable spends through your Cancellation Fees and Lost Deposits cover.
If your credit cards or travel documents are lost or stolen
Travel Documents cover helps you replace your passport and credit cards if someone steals them out of your bag or the airline loses them after sending your luggage elsewhere.
If your luggage doesn't make it
If the airline decides to send your bags in the opposite direction, the Luggage and Personal Effects cover will pay for replacement supplies until you get them back. It will replace everything if they're gone for good.
Travel insurance - when to buy & how to save
How does travel insurance work?
Travel insurance is a safety net for travellers. It provides cover for the risks we face when we travel and protects us against the losses we can incur if the unexpected happens. Common travel risks include medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost or damaged luggage and personal effects. Depending on the level of insurance you purchase, your policy can cover all of these and more.
Apart from medical emergencies where immediate payment may be required, travel insurance works like most other forms of insurance, where you pay upfront and are reimbursed by your insurer at a later date after lodging a claim. As with other types of insurance, making a claim involves providing documentation as evidence of your loss and following the correct procedures regarding deadlines and disclosure.
How to compare travel insurance policies
With so many travel insurance policies available, we've highlighted the different features between a single trip and annual trip policy, an individual and group policy, and standalone against credit card cover.
The answer to this one is relatively straightforward. If you travel infrequently, as in once a year or less, then single trip cover is all you need. You can take out cover for up to 12 months (up to 18 months with some backpacker insurance policies) and your trip can contain multiple destinations, as long as they form part of a consecutive journey that ends back in Australia.
If you are older or have pre-existing medical conditions, you will also have more luck getting cover under a single-trip policy, as insurers generally don't cover pre-existing conditions under annual multi-trip policies. The maximum age limit is also lower than it is for single-trip policies. Although you can take multiple trips in the course of a year, annual multi-trip policies limit the duration of each trip to a maximum of 90 days.
So if you make a lot of short trips in the course of a year (such as business trips), then an annual multi-trip policy will be more convenient and better value for money than a single-trip policy. Otherwise, there is no discernible difference between a single-trip and annual multi-trip policy.
If you're travelling with up to 12 other people, whether it's family, workmates or friends, a group policy will secure you a much better rate than an individual policy. It's much more convenient in terms of applying for cover or making a claim. If you're travelling as a family, a group policy will also usually cover dependent children for free.
The downside of group policies is that older members of the group or those with pre-existing medical conditions may not qualify for inclusion. If you wish to partake in any extreme sports or activities on your trip, you may need to purchase additional cover.
Also, conditions and exclusions may apply to each member of the group. If one member fails to declare a pre-existing condition or behaves in a manner that voids your cover, everyone in the group will be penalised.
The complimentary travel insurance that comes with your credit card can save you money if you use it in lieu of a standalone travel insurance policy, but it's important to be sure it provides you with adequate cover against all the main risks. Many credit card policies come with conditions and exclusions that can severely limit your level of cover.
When considering credit card insurance, be sure to read the fine print regarding the excesses you will have to pay, the benefit limits, the maximum trip duration and the percentage of your trip you must pay for using your credit card.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you may find that credit card insurance won't cover them at all, so be sure to read the product disclosure statement (PDS) carefully. If you find the few dollars you save isn't worth the risk of being underinsured, consider taking out a standalone policy instead.
On top of that, if you're looking at a few policy benefits side-by-side, it can be hard to spot the difference between Policy A and Policy B. Here are a few things we recommend looking out for when comparing travel insurance policies:
Extensive medical coverage: Hospital fees range greatly from injury to injury and country to country, so look for a policy that has unlimited medical cover.
Cancellation policy: Consider how much you can claim should something get in the way of your dream trip. Look for a policy that covers, at the very least, the trip expenses that you've already paid upfront.
Cover for all your planned activities: If you're into extreme sports (including skiing), make sure your policy covers it. For example, activities like skydiving, bungee jumping and scuba diving are only covered by certain plans and may come with restrictions like how high you can jump from or how deep you can dive.
Lost and/or delayed luggage protection: If your bags don't make the trip, travel insurance may cover you for any interim purchases you need to make (i.e. new clothes, toiletries etc.) or can reimburse you for the valuables in your bag should it not be returned to you at all. If you're one to splash out and your lost bag is jam packed with expensive clothes or accessories, you'll probably want to look for a higher coverage amount.
See how plans change with your age: Each company and policy treats seniors travel insurance differently and may reduce or limit cover or charge different premiums depending on your age.
Consider the excess: With most policies, you'll need to pay the first part of your claim upfront. Depending on the plan, it often ranges from $100-$200. Some travel insurance providers let you reduce the excess for an additional charge – either a flat fee or a percentage of your plan.
Our motto is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford travel insurance.
That said, there's no flat fee for travel insurance. Price depends on a range of factors including where you're going, how long you're travelling for, your age and how comprehensive a plan you'd like among other things.
We've found some sample quotes from some of our most referred partners to three of our most popular destinations, plus some domestic plans, based on the thousands of quotes we've provided to travellers.
*The prices above were all based on a 7-day trip for a 49-year-old traveller, which is the average age of our users. The quote was retrieved on 30-July-2019.
Can I just get cheap travel insurance?
While there's nothing stopping you from just purchasing the cheapest travel insurance plan you can find, which you can do by sorting the search results on our travel insurance quote comparison tool by price, you should keep in mind that the cheap price may also mean cheap quality.
Often, cheap travel insurance policies come with
No cancellation cover
No cover for lost luggage
No rental vehicle excess insurance
No protection from theft of cash or credit cards
That said, there still are affordable travel insurance policies that offer adequate cover. Although we recommend travellers take out comprehensive policies, we know everyone has different priorities when it comes to travel, so we've looked into cheap travel insurance policies to help you find the best one to meet your needs.
What doesn't it cover?
We want to help you find comprehensive travel insurance for your trip, but to really benefit from the cover and to make sure you're not caught in a sticky situation that can leave you out of pocket, it's important to know in what circumstances travel insurance doesn't have your back.
You've had a few drinks. Jumped on a moped after a few drinks and ended up hitting a ditch in downtown Kuta? Yep, you're not covered. Insurers do not pay claims that arise while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You're renting a motorcycle or moped. You're only covered if you have a current Australian motorcycle licence and you wear a helmet. Also, the moped's engine needs to be under the capacity specified by the insurer, which can vary from 50cc to 250cc.
You're hang-gliding or jumping out of a plane. Not all activities will be automatically covered. Each insurer will have a list of high-risk pursuits that are excluded from cover, which are specified in the product disclosure statement (PDS). Find out what these are and if you need to purchase any additional cover.
You're going somewhere the Australian government doesn't recommend. Travel warnings issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading (DFAT) are not to be taken lightly. If you're travelling to a country that's considered dangerous and something goes wrong, your claim will be rejected.
You've waited too long before contacting your insurer or making a claim. Most insurers will require you to notify them of any event leading to a claim within a certain time period. Some even require you to contact them as quickly as 24 hours after the event. Find out what this period is and the maximum period of time following your journey that you can lodge a claim (usually about 30 days).
Why should you compare travel insurance quotes with Finder?
We don't charge you anything to compare policies with us. If you do choose to buy a policy by clicking through to one of our partners, you'll pay no more than going directly to their site.
Trustworthy Finder ratings
Our unique algorithm ranks partners' policies based on how comprehensive they are – and we're not afraid to rank anyone a 1/10. We want to be as honest as we can when it comes to how much cover you'll get on a policy.
Get more than just a quote
We write our content based on what information travellers are looking for, not what the insurance companies want you to know. We're an independent publisher and want to help you find the information you're looking for.
Travel insurance guides for our most popular destinations
As Finder's Group Publisher for Insurance, Zahra Campbell-Avenell leads a team of over 10 insurance experts to deliver on Finder’s mission to help Australians make better decisions. Zahra has a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington DC, with a double major in Anthropology and English. She has worked for companies such as Booking.com and Bank of America, as well as a number of non-profit organisations.
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