Travel insurance is a must, even if it's not compulsory.
A certain level of travel insurance coverage is compulsory for visiting some countries, such as Cuba and Turkey, and many popular tour companies, like Contiki and G Adventures, require you to have cover while on tour.
But compulsory or not, mishaps can happen anywhere in the world and whether you’re travelling with the security of a tour or winging it on your own, and travel insurance can help make sure that mishap doesn’t turn into an unexpected expense.
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When is travel insurance compulsory
- To enter certain countries such as Cuba
- For stays over 90 days in Schengen Zones
- For group travel tours including Contiki Tours and G Adventures
Which countries can’t you enter without travel insurance?
Travel insurance is recommended regardless of which country you travel to yet some travellers still take the risk of travelling without it. But some countries strictly mandate travel insurance with medical as an entry requirement.
|Country||Travel insurance requirements|
|Belarus||Minimum medical travel insurance coverage of €10,000 to get visa-free entry.|
|Cuba||All insurance policies must meet minimum medical and repatriation requirements. Documents will be checked at immigration. If these minimum requirements are not met, you must buy insurance from local providers before entering the country.|
|Qatar||Expats and international visitors must have travel insurance with medical cover when visiting or living in Qatar. By the end of 2015, it will be mandatory for employers of expatriates to pay premiums for their employees.|
|Turkey||Turkey requires that all visitors under the age of 65 have unlimited cover for inpatient services and a minimum benefit of TRY2000 (Turkish Lira) for outpatient medical care.|
|United Arab Emirates (UAE)||You need to be able to prove that you have adequate health insurance when applying for your visa, otherwise your application will be rejected. Health care costs in UAE states, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are extremely high. While citizens are covered by the public health care system, you won’t be, which is why you need travel insurance.|
The Schengen Zone and compulsory travel insurance
The Schengen Zone is a region encompassing 26 European countries and states. Bulgaria and Romania are in the process of joining the Schengen Zone.
Travel insurance is required for stays over 90 days
If you want to visit the Schengen Zone for 90 days or more, you need a visa. To receive the visa, Australian travellers must meet the minimum requirements for most member states. These requirements include compulsory travel insurance with the minimum medical cover of €30,000 and cover for repatriation back to Australia.
Is travel insurance compulsory for Thailand?
Thailand has long been a holiday favourite for Aussies heading abroad. However, Thai tourism officials are pushing to make it mandatory that visitors to the country travel insurance in place.
“The news of travel insurance potentially becoming compulsory for visitors to Thailand isn’t that surprising when you consider its popularity and sadly, the number of travel-related insurance claims made,” said Allianz Worldwide Partners John White in 2017.
In 2016, Allianz had over 3,000 travel insurance claims from Thailand, the most common claim being for hospital costs.
Why get travel insurance even when it's not compulsory?
If you're thinking of avoiding travel insurance for a country where it's not required, think again. A night in hospital in a country such as Singapore or the United States of America (USA) could end up costing you almost $900 and $750 a night respectively. Travelling to these countries without travel insurance is like playing with fire.
Top 6 most expensive destinations to have an emergency
|Destination||Hospital stay per night|
|United States of America||$751|
Other medical expenses you must be aware of
If you plan on travelling to any of the destinations on this list, ensure that you protect yourself with a comprehensive travel insurance package. Other medical emergency expenses that you must be aware of include:
- Ambulance fees
- Inpatient and outpatient treatment
- Doctor consultation fees
- Food and incidentals
- Accommodation for travelling companions
While Aussies are getting better at taking out cover, too many of us are travelling abroad each year without cover.
"One in ten (9%) Australians went without insurance on the most recent occasion they travelled overseas," according to data from Smartraveller.
Tours that require travel insurance
|Travel insurance requirements||Details|
|G Adventures||Compulsory||Travel insurance with medical cover is mandatory, and cancellation cover comes highly recommended for all G Adventure tours.|
|Contiki||Compulsory for some tours||While travel insurance is only recommended for some destinations, all travellers to Asia and South America are required to have an insurance policy with medical, personal, baggage and cancellation expenses.|
|Baz Bus||Recommended||South Africa's premier tour operator recommends travellers have medical insurance.|
|Vodkatrain||Compulsory||Comprehensive medical cover and cover for the loss of personal items is mandatory for travellers on all Vodkatrain tours.|
|Busabout||Compulsory for some tours||Travel insurance is recommended for all Busabout tours. Medical insurance and repatriation is required for trips to Asia and Turkey.|
|Stray Asia||Compulsory||Travel insurance is compulsory for Stray Asia tours. Stray Asia strongly recommends that each traveller is covered for medical expenses, personal baggage, cancellation, public liability and personal accident.|
|Bamba Experience||Compulsory||Travel insurance that covers whitewater rafting and sand buggies is mandatory for Bamba tours.|
|Dragoman||Compulsory||Medical travel insurance with repatriation is a requirement to participate in Dragoman tours.|
|Moose Travel Network||Recommended||While insurance isn't mandatory, the Moose Travel Network strongly recommends travellers purchase cancellation insurance.|
|Bundu Bus||Recommended||Travel insurance of unforeseen circumstances is recommended.|
Is travel insurance compulsory for the USA?
No, travel insurance is not a compulsory entry requirement. The high cost of healthcare however, means that travel insurance might as well be compulsory when you're travelling to the United States.
Is travel insurance compulsory for the United Kingdom (UK)?
No, travel insurance is not a compulsory entry requirement. Travel insurance is however, highly recommended for the due to the many common travel mishaps travellers to the UK find themselves in.
Can you buy travel insurance last minute?
If you're at the airport and about to leave, you can compare and purchase policies online and on your mobile too!
What about travel insurance from my credit card?
You should consider the benefits and limitations of credit card travel insurance and assess it with standalone travel insurance to see what fits your circumstances.
Should you use the optional travel insurance offered by your tour company?
If your tour company offers travel insurance make sure you read the policy and assess whether or not the cover is adequate for your travel needs. Compare the policy benefits with standalone policies online for a better understanding of the policies that are out there.