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Travel insurance without medical cover
Only want cover for cancellations and lost luggage? Non-medical travel insurance plans are a great way to cover just the basics you want.
Trying to find travel insurance without medical can be like looking for a needle in a haystack because, let's face it, medical cover is a must for most travellers. But you're not most travellers. People look for travel insurance without medical for many reasons including domestic travel, international travel where you are visiting a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia or (most often) because it's cheap. So, if you're after travel insurance without medical keep reading and find out what to look for in a policy and, most importantly, who offers these policies.
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What does cancellation only cover?
The following is a brief summary of what Cancellation Only insurance will cover and what is not usually covered:
- Missed flights – these are covered if you are delayed because of an accident enroute, but not if the delay was due to your negligence or missed connections.
- Cancelled flights and resultant missed accommodation – these are covered if due to severe weather or airline strikes, but not if caused by the airline, in which case you must seek compensation from them.
- Extreme events – natural disasters, hijacking, riots and civil unrest that affect travel arrangements are covered, but only after policy cover has commenced.
- Severe sickness or injury – this is covered if a medical practitioner deems you unfit to travel, but not if it relates to a pre-existing medical condition or you fail to cancel your pre-booked trip promptly.
- Death of a close relative – this is covered if you need to cancel or curtail your trip, but is subject to age limitations and pre-existing medical conditions.
- Theft of passports, travel documents or credit cards – this is covered providing you obtain a police report within 24 hours and the theft did not occur while you were intoxicated.
- Loss of Frequent Flyer points – this is covered by some insurers if you used the points to help pay for your trip, which was then cancelled.
- Disruption of journey – this is covered if your trip is delayed by more than six hours and pays a benefit amount every 24 hours towards emergency meals and accommodation.
- Alternative transport expenses – these are covered if your flight is cancelled on your way to a sporting match, wedding, funeral or other pre-booked event.
What should I look at in a policy?
The type of travel insurance you choose will depend on the type of travel you’re undertaking. As mentioned previously, if you are only travelling within Australia, you won’t need medical and hospital cover as you are already covered by Medicare or private health insurance.
Other considerations might include whether it is a single trip or one of several (in which case multi-trip cover would be more beneficial), whether you are travelling alone or with family, whether you plan to partake in any risky activities or sports while away, whether you are taking expensive luggage or personal effects with you and so on.
Whichever type of travel insurance you opt for, make sure you read the fine print first, as every policy contains different limits to benefit amounts and exclusions where cover is not offered. You should also buy your policy as soon after you have booked your trip as possible, so that you are covered for cancellations that could occur prior to your departure.
Won’t the airline pay for it?
Travel insurance is like any form of insurance; the insurer will only pay when costs are not redeemable from any other source. So, there are instances where you won’t be covered by travel insurance and must seek compensation from the carrier instead. But compensation varies with each carrier and is usually at their discretion.
- Delay or cancellation – if due to things such as mechanical problems or timetable changes, your carrier will usually put you on the next available service, reroute you through another carrier or give you a refund or credit for future travel.
- Compensation – payments for accommodation, transport, meals and phone calls incurred due to carrier delays and cancellations are purely at the discretion of the carrier.
- Fares and reservations – these usually have strict conditions and are often non-refundable, particularly if they are discounted.
- Overbooking – if a carrier overbooks a service and you are affected, you may be entitled to compensation. There is an agreed industry rate in Australia, but rates vary in other countries with international carriers.
- Baggage – if a carrier loses or damages your baggage, they will usually compensate you, but only if you report it promptly (within 3 days for cabin luggage and 21 days for checked bags).
- Seating – carriers are not obliged to guarantee seating and may reseat you, even in a lower class than you booked. Any compensation for this is at the carrier’s discretion.
- Death or personal injury – the liability of domestic carriers for the death or personal injury of a passenger is limited to $500,000 and overseas, compensation is governed by international conventions.
As can be seen, the extent of a carrier’s liability depends on the circumstances and any compensation is largely at their discretion, so foregoing travel insurance in the hope of being reimbursed by your carrier for any mishaps would probably not be the wisest move.
Won’t the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement cover me?
Relying on your carrier for insurance is not a great idea and neither is assuming that because you are travelling to a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) with Australia that you don’t need travel insurance with medical and hospital cover.
And that’s because, while RHCA countries will provide Australian travellers with subsidised health care similar to Medicare, they each offer different levels of cover and some medical costs are not covered at all, including:
- Ambulance cover
- Dental care
- Elective surgery
- Medical evacuation to Australia
- Para-medical services
- Treatment and accommodation in a private hospital
- Treatment and accommodation as a private patient in a public hospital
- Non-urgent treatment
Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with 11 countries, so if you are travelling to one of them, be sure to have travel insurance that includes adequate medical and hospital cover.
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As this guide shows, there are few instances where you can forego travel insurance and rely on other sources of compensation if something goes wrong. Whether it’s Cancellation & Luggage Insurance in Australia or Medical & Hospital cover when overseas, travel insurance is something none of us can afford to leave home without. Compare the providers offering travel insurance with no medical using the table above or, if you've changed your mind and think you'll need travel insurance with medical cover, use the comparison tool below.
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