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Travel insurance excess charges explained

You can save on travel insurance by agreeing to pay more out of pocket if you have to make a claim.

If you're looking for an easy way to save on your next travel insurance policy, a higher excess usually means a lower premium. Many brands let you choose an excess anywhere between $0 to $200 (this is the "standard" excess for most policies).

How does a travel insurance excess work?

A travel insurance excess is the amount you're agreeing to pay an insurer if you end up claiming on your policy. Let's review your travel insurance options for a week in Bali. The same policy could cost you $60 with a $200 excess, $72 with a $100 excess or $108 with a $0 excess. As you can see, choosing a higher excess can save a quite a bit.

That's the good news. The bad news is that you'd have to pay that amount before you could claim anything. Say you lose your phone that's worth $500 and you have a $200 excess. Once your insurer approves your claim, you'll have to pay the excess amount, which means you'd only get $300 back.

Choosing the higher excess option is slightly riskier if you do end up needing to claim, but if you're just looking to save some coin in the short term, it's not a bad way to go.

Compare policies by their default excess

When calculating your travel insurance quote, finder.com.au uses the travel insurers default excess option, which means you can sort your results from lowest to highest excess option.

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Compare 20+ brands that offer reduced excess charges

Brand Lowest excess option Excess Option 2 Excess Option 3 Excess Option 4 Apply
  • $100
  • $200
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american express
  • $100
  • $200
  • $500
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  • $0
  • $100
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  • $0
  • $100
  • $200
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  • $0
  • $100
  • $250
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CoverMore
  • $0
  • $100
  • $250
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Fast Cover
  • $0
  • $100
  • $200
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insureandgo
  • $0
  • 100
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  • $100
  • $200
  • $400
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Medibank Travel Insurance
  • $0
  • $100
  • $250
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  • $200
  • $500
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  • $0
  • $200
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virgin travel insurance logo
  • $0
  • $150
  • $200
  • $500
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  • $0
  • $100
  • $500
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worldcare travel insurance logo
  • $200
  • $500
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youGo
  • $0
  • $250
Get Quote
  • $100
  • $200
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Types of travel insurance excess

There are usually two types of excess: standard and voluntary excess.

Standard excess

A standard excess is the set amount stipulated by the insurer that you must pay if you make a successful claim.

Voluntary excess

A voluntary excess amount you choose from a range of options and voluntary excesses are normally split into two groups as well: an excess eliminator or a double excess.

  • Double excess. If you want to pay less for your policy, choose the double excess option. This will mean you pay less for the policy up front but will pay more than the standard excess should you need to claim. One of the potential shortfalls of this option is for lower value claims, where the claim amount would end up being comparable to that of the payable excess.
  • Excess eliminator. If you're more risk-averse, choose the excess eliminator (also referred to as the zero (0) excess option), which means you'll pay more for the policy upfront but won't have to pay an excess when filing a claim.

How does the excess impact the cost of travel insurance

Brand Policy Quote with 0 excess Quote with $100 excess Quote with $200 excess Apply
1Cover Logo
  • Medical Only
  • $85.64
  • $55.64
  • $45.64
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  • Last Minute
  • $74.64
  • $61.95
  • $57.08
Get Quote
  • Basics
  • $67.80
  • $52.80
  • $32.90
Get Quote

Quotes are based on 30 years old person going to Bali for 14 days. Information last checked as correct in September 2018 and is subject to change at any time.

Benefits of comparing excesses

When you're comparing policies it's not a bad idea to glance across the comparison section and have a look at the excess options. You can use this as a way to split the decision between two similar policies. That is, if they are both offering the same level of cover for an item, opt for the option with the lower excess. Or if one policy only offers a standard excess and you're more inclined to opt for a double or nil excess option, this can serve as another differentiator.

When is an excess payable?

Every policy is different. Here are some commonly claimed items and whether you will generally be expected to pay an excess when claiming on these items.

Cover Excess payable?
Medical benefit Yes
Lost or stolen luggage Yes
Hospital cash No
Cancellation Yes
Travel delay expenses No
Delayed luggage No
Trip curtailment Yes
Medical evacuation Yes
Passport or travel documents Yes
Loss of income No
Total permanent disability No
Personal liability Yes
Accidental death No

Why are theam I paying for?

Most travel insurance policies cover the three main areas of risk. These are:

  • Hospital and medical cover – this is always the most important, especially when you are travelling to a country with an expensive health care system such as Japan or the USA.
  • Lost or stolen luggage and belongings – this can be a common occurrence, especially when visiting countries with high crime rates and it is one of the most frequent sources of claims on travel insurance policies.
  • Trip delays and cancellations – this is particularly important if you have pre-paid some or all of your holiday travel and accommodation expenses.

Excesses vary within each area of cover and it is comparing these excesses that will help you determine whether a policy offers good value for money in your particular circumstances.

When do you have to pay your excess?

How and when you pay an excess will depend on the policy and the insurer. Some insurers require you to pay the excess upfront before they will pay the claim, while others will simply deduct the amount of the excess and pay out the remainder of the benefit.

Some insurers will even waive the excess altogether, as in some car insurance claims, where you were not at fault and the insurer is able to recover the amount from the other party.

Does multiple claims mean multiple excess charges?

Now you might be asking yourself, if you're claiming on multiple sections of the policy, will you pay multiple excesses? The answer is generally no. Most of the time you're charged one excess for an event even if you are claiming on multiple benefits.

The same goes if you're claiming on a family policy, even if that event impacts multiple travellers such as both parents and children, you'll only pay the excess once.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    kimJuly 31, 2017

    Hotel in Menorca lost 2 adults 2 children’s passports, insurance company are paying for replacement passports etc but have said our excess is £100 per person. The certificate from travel agents only says excess £100, no policy booklet was given as Thomson’s didn’t have any in stock. I believe it has been mis-sold as I was unaware of excess being per person.

    • Default Gravatar
      LiezlAugust 1, 2017

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’m sorry to hear about this mishap. I’m afraid we cannot check this information for you as we do not have the insurance details. You may want to contact the insurance company and ask for the policy booklet so you can ascertain the excess charging.

      It’s a good idea to always check the features and details of the policy, as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and if necessary, reach out to the insurance company before buying an insurance.

      Kind regards,
      Liezl

  2. Default Gravatar
    BarryJune 27, 2016

    I asked Google, “why do we have to pay an excess on our Travel Insurance”. I got this page as an result ( https://www.finder.com.au/travel-insurance-excess ). It explains how an excess works. Any Dip-Stick knows how it works, Derrr. I asked why do we have to pay it. If you insure something. It should replace the total value of what is insured. I accept depreciation. But why do we have to pay an excess. It Google that led me here. Not finder.com.au. So shows you how bright google is. Not very. So why do we have to pay an excess. Seems a SCAM to me. That everyone accepts.

    • finder Customer Care
      RichardJune 28, 2016Staff

      Hi Barry,

      Thanks for your question. When you buy travel insurance with an excess option, you are assuming part of the risk on behalf of the insurer in return for a lower premium. There are travel insurance brands out there that offer zero excess options but this means you are paying more upfront.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

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