What you Need to Know About Travel Insurance Companies
You’ve been planning your dream holiday for months and it’s finally here. Everything has been booked and paid for, your bags are packed and you’re brimming with excitement. But before you hop on a plane and head out to explore the world, there’s one important question you need to remember to ask yourself, “Do I have travel insurance?”
Even if your holiday is planned down to the finest detail, all it takes is one small problem to throw your plans into disarray. Flights can be delayed and connections missed, luggage can get stolen or misplaced, and medical emergencies can turn dream holidays into nightmares. Not only can it be extremely stressful when something goes wrong on holiday, it can also be incredibly damaging to your hip pocket.
But this is where travel insurance comes to the rescue. This crucial form of cover protects you against an extensive range of risks you’re likely to face on holiday. It includes cover for things like overseas emergency medical assistance, medical and hospital expenses, cancellation fees and lost deposits, luggage and personal items.
It ensures your finances won’t suffer if something goes wrong while you’re travelling, giving you the security and confidence you need to just get out there and see the world.
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Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Travel Insurance Company
It’s important when you’re shopping for any type of insurance cover that you do your research and shop around for a good deal. The travel insurance market is quite competitive and features a host of providers vying for your business. Some are established names in the insurance industry that offer a range of insurance covers, while others specialise in only offering travel insurance.
You’ll obviously want to find an establish and respected company with a trusted reputation. finder.com.au is the perfect place to start comparing insurance providers, with profiles and information on a large number of Australian travel insurance providers. You can also seek out online reviews and forums to find out what other people’s experiences have been like with certain companies, or speak to friends and family to hear their recommendations when it comes to travel insurance.
Customer service and handling of claims
The next question you’ll need to consider is the size of the company you want to go with. Do you prefer the personalised service sometimes available from smaller providers, or do you like the security that comes with knowing your policy is backed by the financial strength of a global organisation? Compare how much companies pay out in claims and their reputation for fast claims processing and dealing with any complaints.
Purchase direct or through a broker?
Finally, you’ll also need to decide whether you want to buy your travel insurance direct or through an insurance broker. Buying direct is designed to take the hassle out of the insurance buying process, as direct insurers offer cover that is simple to understand, plus quick and easy to apply for online.
On the other hand, an insurance broker can offer specialised advice tailored to your insurance needs. Brokers have an in-depth understanding of the insurance market and the strengths and weaknesses of different insurance providers, which means they have the knowledge needed to help you find the right insurer.
Range of products on offer
There are so many insurance companies out there competing for your business that you can find cover for almost any situation. Depending on your budget and how much cover you need, travel insurance providers generally provide the following options:
- Essentials Travel Insurance. This is the low budget option offered by these companies and protects you for just the basics. While this policy will protect you in most situations, it will only financially protect you so much as to the limit stated in the policy document, which is much lower than that of comprehensive policies.
- International Comprehensive Travel Insurance. International comprehensive will normally protect you with unlimited cover for medical expenses, cancellation and repatriation.
- Annual Multi-trip. If you plan on taking multiple trips throughout the year, a lot of travel insurance providers will have an annual multi-trip option available. This type of policy saves frequent flyers time and money in the long run. This option provides cover for an unlimited number of trips within any 12 month period. There are restrictions places on the duration for individual trips, usually between 30 and 90 days.
Customer service is an important consideration when it comes to taking out a travel insurance policy. Make sure you find a company that has a skilled and dedicated team of advisers that will be available to help you 24/7/365. Not only will this save you the frustration of being left on hold but it will give you the peace of mind knowing that if something does go wrong, no matter where in the world you are, you will be able to get in contact with someone for help.
When you take out travel insurance, make sure that you go with a reputable provider as opposed to a fly-by-night operator. Not only do you know that they will be able to provide you with the protection you need but you will also have peace of mind knowing that they aren’t going to go belly up. In the case of financial failure of your travel insurance company, you can rest easy knowing that you are protected by legislation that states that another insurer will continue your policy, provided that your premiums are paid up to date. While it may be an inconvenience, it is better than not having protection. Most policies are underwritten by a major player such as Allianz or AIG, so even if your travel insurance company goes bankrupt, you will still have the underwriter's backing.
Is it possible to add remove features and tailor the cover closer to your needs? Depending on the provider and policy you have chosen to go with, it may be possible to tailor the cover to suit your specific needs. While there are exclusions and limits with every policy, you can obtain additional coverage for certain situations and activities including:
- Luggage Cover. If you are planning on taking an expensive item with you while you travel and it’s replacement cost is higher than the limit listed in your policy document, you can have that item covered by paying an additional premium.
- Rental Car Excess. If you are planning on hiring a car while you’re overseas then this is something you might want to look to add to your policy. Rental car companies will provide you with a basic level of cover but if you have an accident you can be liable to pay thousands in excess. If you take out rental car insurance excess cover, you will be reducing the amount you’ll have to pay out of pocket should something happen.
- Winter Sports. If you are planning on participating in winter sports on your travels, don't assume you will be automatically be covered. A lot of travel insurance providers will not cover injuries that are the result of you participating in winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and skating. If your policy does not cover you for winter sports, you’ll need to take out additional cover.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Policy
The first step you need to take is to consider what your insurance needs are. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Where are you travelling?
- What will you be doing when you get there?
- Who are you travelling with?
- Will you need cover for your family or dependent children?
The next thing to consider is what level of cover you desire. You can choose from a no-frills policy that will offer only essential protection at an affordable price, or choose a comprehensive policy that provides cover against a broad spectrum of risks. You can also purchase cover on a one-trip basis or, if you’re a frequent traveller, look at investing in a multi-trip policy.
Once you know what you want, you can then start comparing policies from a number of insurers. finder.com.au’s comparison tools can give you a very handy overview of the benefits and features offered by a wide range of policies. Looking even further, read the product disclosure statements of a number of competing policies to examine the benefits, limits and exclusions offered. It’s also useful to remember to look at any excess you will have to pay.
Obtain quotes from a number of insurers to get an idea of how much cover will cost. Of course, you shouldn’t automatically assume that the cheapest cover is the right policy for you, as you need to consider a policy’s features as well as its price.
As mentioned above, you can seek expert advice from an insurance broker if you wish. Brokers have access to an extensive variety of policies across the travel insurance sector, plus they have expert knowledge and a wealth of experience matching people up with the right policy. Using a broker is the most effective way to ensure you end up with the right level of cover.Back to top
What If I want to Make a Complaint Against My Travel Insurance Company?
If you would like to make a complaint against your travel insurance provider there are several avenues you can take to make sure you complaint is heard:
- Contact your insurance provider directly. Lodge your complaint with them and see if you can resolve the issue.
- Get in touch with the Financial Ombudsman Service. If you are in any way dissatisfied with the response you get from your insurance provider, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- Contact the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by your insurance provider, you can also contact the ACCC. They protect consumers from being swindled by bait advertising and other underhanded business techniques.
- Contact your relevant state Consumer Authority. Each state has their own governing body that is designed to protect the interests of consumers in their respective states.
Who Regulates Travel Insurance in Australia?
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulates the financial sector, from banks to building societies, and importantly for our purposes, the insurance industry. The APRA regulates life insurance, general insurance and reinsurance companies, under the Commonwealth Insurance Act 1973 and they are responsible for the administration of the Insurance Act. As the governing body, the APRA sets the prudential standards for general insurance industry. They have developed a comprehensive framework of practice guides and prudential standardsBack to top
Top* Ranking Travel Insurance Companies in Australia
Travel insurance cover is an essential expense when you’re booking a holiday either internationally or within Australia. It is specially designed to provide protection against the risks you face while travelling, including everything from trip cancellations and delays to overseas medical emergencies.
However, travellers need to consider a range of factors before they choose a travel insurance policy. These include the reputation of the insurer, where they are travelling to, how many people they are looking to insure and the type and level of cover they want.
finder.com.au is a great place to start your travel insurance shopping adventure, with plenty of resources to help you compare policies. You can buy policies online direct from an insurer, or you might prefer to seek help from an insurance broker to find the right level of cover.Back to top
* The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.