Looking for the best travel insurance* for Hawaii? Find out what cover you need and receive quotes
You might be gearing up for your escape to palm trees, warm water and pounding waves but it's still crucial you get the right level of cover in place for your trip away. Having long been a popular destination for tourists, many Australian's are being drawn to Hawaii as an alternative destination to Bali, Fiji and other islands they have already ticked off their travel list.
Do I really need travel insurance for Hawaii?
Despite being a developed island with a long history of tourist travellers, Hawaii is not without it's travel risks and travel insurance will offer financial protection for a range of losses including:
- Emergency medical expenses for emergency evacuation and hospital care.
- Lost/stolen luggage and valuables including high-value items.
- Cancellation fees and lost deposits if you are forced to cancel your trip for reasons outside of your control.
- Car rental excess charges if you are involved in an accident and are forced to pay an excess fee (which can be as high as $5,000).
Simply enter your trip details in the enquiry form below to compare travel insurance for Hawaii. If you want some more information about what to look for, carry on reading!
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- If I have a medical emergency, how am I covered in Hawaii?
- What are the specific entry requirements for Hawaii?
- Is my credit card travel insurance sufficient?
- Should I use the cover offered by my travel agent?
- When is the best time to travel to Hawaii?
- What are some tips for travelling in Hawaii?
- Who do I contact in an emergency?
While travel involves an element of risk wherever you go in the world, there are certain risks specific to Hawaii that you need to be aware. These include;
- High cost of healthcare. The United States (USA) is known for high cost of health care. Even a few night in hospital can rack up a large hospital bill, which is why travel insurance is a must.
- Terrorism threats. As part of the USA, Hawaii is subject to the national terror threat assessment, which at present warns of a heightened threat. Visitors to Hawaii should exercise caution in public places.
- Crime. Due to its liberal gun laws, the USA has a higher level of gun-related crime than Australia and Hawaii is no exception. Petty crime such as pickpocketing is also common and tourists are often targeted.
- Water-related risks. As Hawaii has so many water-related activities, water safety is considered a major concern for visitors, especially for inexperienced swimmers, surfers or divers. Visitors are advised to be aware of hazards such as dangerous surf, strong rips, coral reefs and box jellyfish.
- Volcanic activity. Hawaii is famous for its volcanoes, with volcanic activity occurring on a daily basis. Visitors have been killed in the past by lava, steam and toxic gases because they ignored warnings and ventured into restricted areas.
- Climbing risks. Due to the large number of hiking and climbing opportunities, falls are responsible for the most visitor trauma admissions in Hawaiian hospitals. For this reason, visitors should obey all signs relating to dangerous cliffs, trails and lookouts.
I'm a relatively safe person, what's the point in purchasing travel insurance?
While you may be a safe traveller, it doesn't take a situation caused yourself to throw your financial circumstances into jeopardy. For instance if you become ill while in Hawaii and need a few nights in hospital you could face heavy hospital expenses. Similarly if you have to cancel your plans for reasons outside of your control, travel insurance can refund costs such as refundable flights.
Case Study: Honolulu Smash and GrabHaving comprehensive travel insurance can come to your rescue in such circumstances, as Australian tourist Michael found out recently, when his hire car was broken into in a Honolulu car park and all of his valuables and travel documents were stolen.
The losses that Michael faced:
- $3,000 car rental excess
- $1,000 stolen laptop replacement
- $200 new passport and visa replacement costs
How Michael was covered by travel insurance
As Michael had taken out a comprehensive travel insurance policy prior to travelling, he contacted the emergency assistance team who assisted Michael with his claim. After providing his insurer with police reports, the receipt for his laptop and the receipt for the passport and visa replacement, Michael was able to cover his losses as detailed below:
- $3,000 rental car excess paid directly to the car rental company. Michael's policy automatically included cover for any rental excess charge up to $4,000.
- $650 for the cost of his laptop. Michaels insurer subtracted a 30% depreciation from the original value of the laptop as well as a $50 excess that is required by the policy for stolen items.
- $150 for processing fees of new passport and visa. Michaels insurer paid the $200 less a $50 excess.
Travel insurance comes a long away
Although Michael did have to cover $100 in excess charges and the original value of his laptop, without travel insurance, Michael would been left $4,200 out-of-pocket.
Many Australians travelling to Hawaii do so to enjoy the range of adventure activities on offer, including:
- Sea kayaking. The stunning cliffs of Kauai's Na Pali Coast offers some great Sea Kayaking experiences.
- Parasailing. Waikiki beach is a is considered a prime spot for parasailing in the world.
- Powered hang gliding. Powered hang gliding is an exhilarating way to see Oahu's North Shore and release your inner daredevil.
- Shark diving. You can encounter these thrilling creatures up close and personal in Hawaii.
- Surfing. Hawaii is known for one of the worlds more renown surf scenes, and one that every surfer should check out.
Getting cover for these activities
While some insurers such as Travel Insuranz automatically cover activities such as parasailing, others may require you to add the activity as an extra or with an "adventure sports package". You should always check with your policy for any activities you plan on undertaking.
Australians love to surf and surfing in Hawaii is the ultimate destination for many Aussie board riders. Great surf locations around the islands include Waikiki, Peahi (the famous Jaws), Sunset Beach, Diamond Head, Pipeline, Hanalei Bay, Chuns Reef, Sandy Beach, Pounders Beach and Laniakea Beach. While surfing on your travels is great fun, it also carries many risks factors e.g. your surfboard could be damaged whilst in transit, or you could cut yourself on a reef whilst you are in action.
What exactly am I covered for?
The reason for this is because a good surf travel insurance policy will also cover you for:
- Surfboard in transit. Replacement of a stolen or damaged board up to the benefit amount you specify (in transit)
- Surfboard in use. Replacement of a damaged board in use (limited to a few policies)
- Hired surfboards. Costs associated with repairing a hire board
- Medical evacuation. Medical evacuation if you are injured while surfing in a remote area
- Medical expenses. Costs associated with reef cuts, shark attacks and other risks, provided that you were taking due care at the time.
What am I not covered for?
The main risks surf policies will not cover you for are:
- Professional participation. injuries or damage incurred while participating in a professional capacity and injuries or
- Reckless behavior. Damages which are the result of your reckless behaviour (i.e. taking on Jaws in Peahi as an amateur or swimming in known shark-infested waters).
One of the common exclusions in surf travel insurance policies relates to professional surfing. This exclusion applies in most sports-related cover and excludes cover if you receive any sort of wage, salary or financial reward for taking part. Most policies allow participation in amateur surf events, providing you receive no financial incentive for taking part. If you are a pro surfer on the world circuit, you would need to arrange specialised insurance that covers you as a professional sportsperson.
The recent Bali ash cloud
The recent volcano eruption in Bali and subsequent ash cloud that disrupted numerous flights, is a good example of when an insurer will cover you for cancellations or delays due to unforeseen circumstances. The key word here is ‘unforseen’, where claims were only paid out on those Bali cancellation claims for policies bought before the initial eruption. The ash cloud caused disruptions for some time, so after the initial eruption, it was considered a ‘known event’ by insurers.
Check your policy and media warnings about volcanoes
Travel insurance is all about covering unexpected events and if people booked flights to Bali knowing there was a reasonable expectation they would be disrupted by cancellations, then in many cases they were not covered by their travel insurance. This interpretation varied with insurers, but the date when cover was taken largely dictated whether claims were paid or not, something worth keeping in mind if travelling to Hawaii, where volcanic activity is commonplace.
Important risks to aware of
One of the risks particular to Hawaii is its active volcanoes, which have claimed a number of lives in the past. Dangers they pose include:
- Being burnt by molten lava
- Being injured by pumice and cinders during an eruption
- Falling through cold lava beds
- Being scalded by boiling steam
- Being asphyxiated by toxic gases.
Cover is provided for regular hiking injuries
If you hike through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, your travel insurance will usually cover you for any hiking related injuries you might suffer such as a sprained ankle. But if you injure yourself in a volcano-related incident where you have not followed the instructions of your guide or have put yourself at risk in some way, then your travel insurance would be voided and would not cover your medical and hospital expenses.
Here's what you're covered for:
- Car rental excess. Most travel insurance covers rental car excess, whether you are driving in Hawaii or anywhere else. The excess is the amount you must pay the rental car company if you have your rental car stolen or are involved in an accident. Travel insurance covers some or all of this amount, depending on the level of cover you take out.
- Personal injury cover. Travel insurance cover you if you are injured in a rental car accident, as this falls under your overseas medical and hospital cover.
Can I get cover for rental excess over $4,000?
Yes, some insurers will offer cover up to $6,000 in car rental excess insurance.
What's not included?
Travel insurance does not cover
- Third party injuries or property damage
- Repairs to the rental vehicle itself
These liabilities are covered by a separate car insurance policy that the rental car company will require you to take out.
Medical costs in the USA
As Hawaii is a state of the USA, health care is extremely expensive. A 10-minute consultation with a GP can cost anywhere between US$100 and $150 and one night in intensive care in a Hawaiian hospital can cost up to $10,500.
Travel insurance procedures
In the case of an emergency, contact your insurer’s emergency assistance service as soon as possible after the incident. They will assess your situation and depending on the terms of the policy they can provide a guarantee of payment in emergency situations. If the costs are only a few hundred dollars, such as treatment by a GP, your insurer will usually require you to pay upfront and claim when you get back home to Australia.
Beware of pre-existing medical conditions
If you have a pre-existing medical condition that hasn't been approved by your travel insurer then you may not be covered for any medical costs that arise from the condition. If this happens in Hawaii, you may be liable for it's high cost of hospital expenses and treatment.
Australians visiting Hawaii for less than 90 days can enter without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). You must however apply for and be granted an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to leaving Australia (this can be obtained online). All foreign tourists visiting Hawaii, whether under the VWP or not, are required to:
- Passport valid for at least 6 months. Tourists must hold a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry.
- Stay no longer than 90 days. Trip's must be 90 days or less.
- Maintain foreign status. Tourists must maintain their identity as a foreigner during their stay.
- If not under the VWP, hold a valid visa issued by the US Embassy or Consulate.
Will travel insurance cover a visa refusal?
Unfortunately not. Make sure you apply for your visa ahead of booking your trip.
Many high-end rewards or platinum credit cards include complimentary travel insurance as one of their many benefits. So if you book and pay for your Hawaiian getaway using your credit card, you may be able to enjoy the convenience of complimentary travel insurance cover. This can save you the time of shopping around for cover, as it’s included as part of your credit card’s annual fee and you can enjoy cover for a wide range of travel risks.
Credit card travel insurance may not provide sufficient medical cover for the USA
However, you should be aware of the limitations of credit card travel insurance cover before deciding whether it’s right for you. While many standalone travel insurance policies offer unlimited cover for overseas medical expenses, credit card travel insurance usually has a limit on the amount of coverage available for overseas medical expenses. With hospital beds in the United States costing an average of$751.06 a night, combined with expensive medical treatment costs and potentially medical evacuation costs, the cover offered by your credit card may be insufficient.
Other short-comings you should be aware of
- Trip length may be limited (e.g. 90 days).
- No cover for pre-existing conditions
- Lower limits for many benefits
- You may need to pay for all of your holiday bookings with your credit card in order to be covered
- Adventure sports are often not covered
- You may have to pay a high excess in the event of a claim
Should I completely disregard my credit cards cover?
Make sure to compare the cover offered by your credit card’s travel insurance with the benefits of standalone travel insurance before deciding which form offers enough protection for your holiday to Hawaii.
I’ve booked a trip with my travel agent and they’ve offered me travel insurance: should I go with them?
For many people, the idea of shopping around for travel insurance sounds time consuming and the most convenient option is to simply to purchase a policy and your holiday from your travel agent. While this may seem like a handy time-saver, purchasing travel insurance from a travel agent can cost you more than if you were to purchase online.
Travel agents sometimes charge a commission and other fees on top of the price of the policies they sell, so you end up paying much more for cover than you need to.
As far as weather is concerned, Hawaii, being on the edge of the tropics, only has two main seasons; a summer dry season (May to October) and a winter rainy season (November to April).
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Holidaying safely in Hawaii is much like holidaying anywhere else. Common sense is the key. There are risks involved in any form of travel and provided that you listen to warnings, don’t take unnecessary risks and cover yourself with travel insurance, you’re likely to have a fun, safe and uneventful holiday. Some useful precautions to ensure you do include;
- Be aware of traffic conditions. Remember they drive on the other side of the road (and vehicle) to Australia, so be vigilant when walking or driving in traffic.
- Keep your valuables safe in your hotel room or safe and keep essentials with you while you are out and about.
- Don’t leave valuables in an unlocked hire car or where they can be plainly seen.
- Keep an eye on your belongings. Especially while you are on the beach, particularly when swimming.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Divide your money and credit cards, so if you lose one you will still have the other.
- Wear sun protection. Skin cancer is prevalent the world over, so if planning to spend a lot of time on the beach, use sunscreen or protection.
If there’s an emergency while you are holidaying in Hawaii, there are a number of ways to get help:
- Friends and family. If you need money urgently, call friends and family at home.
- Your travel insurer. If it’s a health emergency, call your insurer’s emergency hotline.
- 911 emergency hotline. If it’s related to a crime , call 911.
- Australian Consulate. If it’s a consular matter, call the 24/7 Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 or the Australian Consulate General in Honolulu on +1 808 529 8100.
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Picture: Steven Worster, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped) Picture: Laszlo Ilyes, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)
*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 own personal financial circumstances when comparing travel insurance policies. *Price based on quote for basic policy for a 2 day trip for 18 year old traveller. Please note that prices are subject to change. Price last checked as correct on October 2015.