Heading away? Discover how to find the best travel insurance for you.
There is no single travel insurance policy that is best for everyone, but there are some key strategies you can use to find the perfect policy for you.
What works for you will vary based on a wide range of factors, including everything from your cover needs to your travel insurance budget, so let’s take a closer look at how to find the best travel insurance for you.
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What do you want to learn about?
- What is the best* travel insurance?
- What should the best* travel insurance cover?
- What other features should I look for?
- Which is the best* travel insurance company?
- What’s not covered by travel insurance?
- Issues with underinsurance
- Should I get single trip or annual trip travel insurance?
- How do I find suitable travel insurance for seniors?
- What should I look for in a policy for backpackers?
- What should I look for if I'm going to the USA?
- What should the best* domestic travel insurance policy cover?
- What if I'm going to Bali?
- What should I look for in international travel insurance?
- How do I find the best* travel insurance for pre-existing conditions?
- I still have some questions
- PDS Glossary: What do each of the features mean?
What is the best* travel insurance?
The best travel insurance is one that covers you for your trip, and that's why there's no single policy that will be the best for everyone. There are so many variables - where you're going, for how long, what you'll be doing when you get there, how old you are...the list goes on. So how do you find the best travel insurance for you? Just follow these simple steps to match a policy to your needs:
- Think about what cover you need. Take some time to consider the holiday you have planned. Where are you going and how safe or risky is that country as a travel destination? How long will your trip be? What activities will you be participating in on your journey? Do you want cover for the essentials only, such as cancellation costs and overseas medical emergencies, or would you prefer a policy that covers a much broader range of events?
- Think about your budget. How much are you willing to spend on travel insurance? Cost should never be the only factor you consider when choosing a policy, but working out your budget will help you choose the level of cover you want. A big mistake travellers make is purchasing a policy purely based on its price tag. Selecting the cheapest option can mean that you’re not covered for essential factors. This could lead to you being more out of pocket if something bad were to happen on your trip.
- Get quotes. To get an idea of how much you’ll need to pay for the travel insurance you want, obtain quotes from multiple insurers. See how they stack up against the competition and work out what you will get for your money.
- Compare policies. Look at the benefits, limits and exclusions of each policy to work out which one offers the right cover. Read the PDS closely to assess each policy and understand what is included and excluded in your policy. This will help you work out which insurer offers the best value for money.
- Buy cover and relax. Once you’ve purchased a policy, cover for cancellation costs begins straight away, leaving you free to relax and head away on holiday with complete confidence.
What should the best* travel insurance cover?
The best travel insurance policies include a broad range of benefits. However, the benefits included will vary depending on whether you choose a budget or a comprehensive travel insurance policy.
Common features of budget travel insurance policies
Budget travel insurance is designed to combine affordable premiums with cover for a few essential travel risks. It provides the following benefits:
- Overseas medical expenses. This includes cover for the cost of emergency ambulance transport, medical treatment, surgical fees and hospital accommodation. Many policies offer unlimited cover for your overseas emergency medical expenses.
- Overseas dental expenses. Limited cover is also provided for emergency dental expenses incurred overseas.
- Hospital cash allowance. You’ll receive an ongoing benefit while hospitalised overseas to help cover any out-of-pocket costs, such as newspapers, TV rental and phone calls.
- Additional accommodation and travel expenses. This benefit covers the additional travel and accommodation expenses incurred by your travelling companion if you suffer a serious illness or injury on your journey and they need to remain with or escort you. It also covers the expenses incurred by a relative to come and stay by your side, or the extra costs involved if you’re forced to cut short your journey.
- Medical evacuation and repatriation. Many of the best policies will also include cover for medical evacuation costs or repatriation back home to Australia when recommended by your doctor.
- Cancellation costs. If you’re forced to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, such as if you’re made redundant or a relative dies unexpectedly, the best travel insurance will cover the cost of any cancellation fees you need to pay and any pre-paid deposits that cannot be refunded.
- Lost, stolen and damaged luggage. If your luggage or personal items are lost, stolen or damaged on your trip, travel insurance pays for the cost of their repair or replacement.
- Personal liability. If, as the result of a negligent act during your journey, you’re responsible for injuring someone else or damaging their property, this benefit covers your legal liability cover.
Common features of comprehensive travel insurance policies
Meanwhile, comprehensive insurance is designed to offer a much higher level of cover. If you choose a high-quality comprehensive policy you can expect cover for all of the above, often to increased benefit limits, as well as the following features:
- Permanent disability. Your policy will pay a lump sum benefit if you become totally and permanently disabled as a result of an accidental injury during your trip.
- Accidental death. Your loved ones will receive a lump sum benefit if you die as a result of an accidental injury during your trip.
- Loss of income. This benefit provides cover if you sustain an injury during your trip and are unable to go back to work when you return to Australia.
- Resumption of journey. If you had to cut your trip short and return to Australia due to a sudden serious injury, sickness, disease or death of a relative or business partner, travel insurance covers the reasonable costs you incur to resume your trip.
- Luggage delay. If an airline temporarily misplaces or misdirects your luggage, you’ll receive a cash benefit to help you buy emergency essentials like toiletries and a change of clothes.
- Travel delay. If your scheduled transport is delayed for six hours or more, you’ll receive cover for the additional accommodation and meal expenses you incur.
- Alternative transport expenses. If unforeseen circumstances outside your control affect your chances of getting to a pre-arranged event (such as a wedding or business conference on time), your policy can cover the additional costs you incur to get there in time.
- Credit cards and money. This benefit covers the theft of cash and credit cards during your trip, including protection if you become a victim of credit card fraud.
- Passports and travel documents. This benefit ensures that you are covered for the repair or replacement of lost or stolen passports and other important travel documents.
- Rental vehicle insurance excess. If your rental car is involved in a collision, maliciously damaged or stolen, your policy provides cover for the rental company insurance excess.
- Domestic pets. If your trip home is delayed by circumstances outside your control, this benefit covers additional boarding kennel and cattery fees.
What other features should I look for in a policy?
It's quite common for people to go with the first policy they see, whether it is because it offers a low premium or because they just can't be bothered to keep looking. There are lots more features to keep an eye out for when comparing policies, including:
- 24/7 emergency assistance. The best travel insurance will be backed by a 24/7 emergency assistance hotline that can be contacted from anywhere in the world. This allows you to access the help you need, such as locating medical assistance, organising medical evacuations and sending messages to family.
- Cover for pre-existing conditions. Each insurer has conditions for the acceptance of pre-existing medical conditions. The PDS should clearly state what is and isn't covered. In the event that your condition is not covered, you may need to contact the insurer to discuss other options.
- Cover for your expensive items. Are you planning on taking valuable items with you, such as a laptop or digital SLR camera? If so, many policies allow you to register high-value items for additional cover. It is crucial that you check if there is a sub-limit for each item. As an example, you may have $10,000 in cover for high-value items but a claim limit of $1,500 per item.
- The excess payable when you claim. Many policies allow you to pay a small fee to remove any excess that is payable in the event of a claim. This fee is usually around $25 and might be worth considering when you apply for cover.
- Cover for your family. Most policies allow you to include your spouse, children or grandchildren on your policy provided they are travelling with you for the duration of the journey.
- Optional extras. Look for any optional covers that can be added to your policy for an extra cost, such as winter sports cover or adventure sports cover. These options allow you to tailor cover to suit your needs.
Which is the best* travel insurance company?
While there is no such thing as the best travel insurance company, there are several factors worth keeping in mind when comparing travel insurers. It really comes down to your own cover requirements and budget, but here are some crucial points to consider when comparing different options:
1. Who is the policy underwritten by? Is it a reputable brand?
- It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of insurance brands and policies available, but there are really only a handful of companies thatactually issue and underwrite the policies. Get cover that's backed by a highly regarded underwriter and claims team to ensure you receive adequate emergency assistance and that your claim is handled swiftly and efficiently. Major underwriters to look for include Allianz, AIG, ACE, Lloyd's of London, Mitsui Sumitomo and QBE.
2. Is reputable emergency assistance available 24/7?
Any insurer you choose should have its own 24/7 emergency assistance team to provide overseas and domestic support when needed. This is an essential feature to ensure that you can always access help no matter where you are in the world.
3. Is the customer service reputable?
Can you contact the insurer at any time of day and speak with an actual person? Is there an online chat service available? Make sure the insurer you choose is always easy to contact and deal with.
4. Is there a range of policies on offer?
Of course, you’ll also need to check the range of policies the insurer offers. Is there a policy that suits your budget and your cover requirements? Can it be tailored to suit your specific holiday, such as with optional winter sports cover or cover for high-value items? A little research can go a long way to help you find the best insurer. Look for brands offering a range of policies that offer additional protection and are not just the same policy with a fancy name to draw in more customers. Most leading brands are now offering policies geared towards specific types of travel, such as cruises, winter sports or business travel.
5. Are they flexible to work with?
If you're not 100% sure about how your travel plans will unfold, it's worth looking for a provider that lets you make adjustments to your policy before and after the policy commences. This could include adding additional family members to your policy, upgrading your cover with additional options or extending your policy while overseas.
6. What have other travellers' experiences been like?
What an insurer’s marketing department tells you can sometimes be very different to the service the company ends up providing, so try to find out what sort of experiences other customers have had with the insurer. Read online reviews and ask family and friends for their recommendations. Keep an open mind when reading online user reviews; one disgruntled customer might not really reflect the true quality of the provider.
What’s not covered by travel insurance?
To find the best travel insurance you not only need to look at what’s covered by a policy, but also what’s not covered. Some common travel insurance exclusions are:
- No cover if you intentionally or recklessly put yourself in danger
- No cover if your claim is for consequential loss of any kind, for example loss of enjoyment
- No cover if your claim arises because you engage in manual labour on your journey (note that some policies will cover working holidays)
- No cover if your claim arises because you breach a government prohibition or regulation
- No cover if you fail to get the correct visa
- No cover if you fail to obtain a passport in time to travel
- No cover if you drive a vehicle without a current Australian licence or a licence valid for the country you are driving in
- No cover if your claim arises due to any errors or omissions in your booking arrangements
- No cover if your claim arises due to an act of war
- No cover if your claim arises due to a pre-existing condition that is excluded from cover
- No cover if you travel to a country for which the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued a ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory
- No cover if you travel against medical advice
- No cover if your claim arises due to mental illness
- No cover if your claim arises because you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- No cover if you participate in any professional sport, dive to depths greater than a certain limit (for example 10 metres), or participate in any adventure activity excluded from cover
Check out our guide to travel insurance exclusions for more information on when you won’t be covered.
Issues with underinsurance
If you’ve already maxed out your credit card paying for a round-the-world holiday, you might be hesitant to fork out a large sum to pay for travel insurance. However, don’t be tempted to skimp on cover in order to lower the cost of your premium.
Underinsurance is a real risk and it can have serious financial consequences. To illustrate just how dangerous underinsurance can be, let’s look at a couple of case studies.
Pam's ski holiday disaster
Pam is planning a two-month trip across Europe taking in a host of world-renowned attractions. When choosing travel insurance for her trip, Pam is keen to find cheap cover so she can save some extra spending money. She chooses a basic policy and decides not to add any optional extras to tailor cover to her needs.
Then, while on a day trip in the Swiss Alps, Pam decides to try her hand at a morning’s skiing. But when Pam overestimates her snow skills and crashes into a tree at high speed, she’s seriously injured and has to be evacuated to the nearest hospital by helicopter. She is then hospitalised for a week as she receives treatment and recovers from her injuries.
All up, Pam’s evacuation and treatment costs almost $30,000. Unfortunately, Pam didn’t add the insurer’s optional snow sports package to her travel cover when purchasing a policy, so any claims resulting from her time on the slopes aren’t covered by her policy. This means Pam needs to pay those medical bills out of her own pocket.
Paul's camera catastrophe
Paul is a keen amateur photographer who can’t wait to capture some beautiful sunsets on his Hawaiian holiday. He packs his $9,000 digital SLR camera for the trip and upon seeing that his travel insurer provides $12,000 cover for luggage and personal items, he assumes he has adequate cover in place. The insurer offers the option to increase cover for high-value items but Paul doesn’t want to pay any more for his premium.
However, what Paul doesn’t realise is that the insurer imposes a per-item sublimit of $1,500. So when his hotel room is broken into and his camera is stolen, Paul is dismayed to find that he only has $1,500 of cover to replace a $9,000 camera.
Should I get single trip or annual trip travel insurance?
Another factor to consider when choosing travel insurance is whether or not you need single-trip or multi-trip travel insurance. As its name suggests, a single-trip policy covers you for just one trip, providing the cover you need for your journey from start to finish.
However, if you’re a frequent traveller who takes two or more trips a year, you may benefit from an annual multi-trip policy. This type of policy provides cover for all the trips you take across a 12-month period, and it can work out to be a whole lot cheaper than if you purchase a separate policy for each individual trip.
It’s worth getting a quote to see whether multi-trip cover offers better value for money.
|Single trip||Annual multi-trip|
What should I look for in a seniors policy?
Just because you’re 65 or over doesn’t mean you can’t travel the world and have a whale of a time doing it. It also doesn’t mean you can’t find travel insurance cover. Keep the following tips in mind to help you find the best travel insurance for seniors:
- Age limits. Insurers will only provide cover for travellers up to a certain age. While a few set this limit at 65 years, others increase it to 70, 75, 80 or even higher. Contact the insurer for details on the maximum age at which you can take out cover.
- Age loadings. If you’re 60 years of age or older, be aware that many insurers will want you to pay a premium loading in order to purchase cover. This is simply due to the fact that older travellers face an increased risk of injury and illness.
- Pre-existing conditions. It’s common for many pre-existing conditions to be excluded from cover. Even some conditions that may normally be covered, such as asthma, may not be included in cover for travellers above a certain age.
- Specialist insurers. A number of insurers specialise in cover for senior travellers, so remember to include their policies when comparing your options.
- Shop around. The most important thing to remember is to compare a wide range of policies before choosing just one. This will help you find the best value for money.
What about backpackers travel insurance?
Planning a carefree backpacking adventure? Make sure good-quality travel insurance is the first item you put in your backpack. Here are a few tips to help you find the best travel insurance for backpackers:
- Cover for long periods. It can be pretty hard to put a time limit on a backpacking holiday, so you’ll need to find a policy that can cover long trips. While many insurers offer policies to cover trips of a maximum duration of one year, others allow you to extend cover for a period of up to 18 months.
- Cover for multiple destinations. Many backpackers head out with little more than a rough idea of where they’d like to go, while others only have an initial destination and no concrete plans after that. This is why it’s important to find a policy that covers a variety of destinations around the world without requiring you to provide a specific itinerary when you apply for cover.
- Cover for working overseas. If you need some extra money to fund your travels, you’ll most likely need to find some sort of work overseas. With this in mind, look for a policy that provides cover for working holidays.
- Cover for adventure activities. Do you like spicing up your holidays with a little extra adventure? If so, keep in mind that many insurers exclude high-risk activities from cover, so you might need to purchase optional adventure sports cover when you buy a policy.
- Protecting your valuables. Whether it’s a camera, a laptop or even your camping gear, it’s essential that you protect all those valuable items in your backpack. Keep an eye out for low limits and sublimits that may provide insufficient cover for your high-value items, and check with your insurer to see whether it will cover the theft of your items when staying in shared accommodation.
Best* travel insurance for USA
Heading to the good ol’ US of A? Keep the following tips in mind when searching for the best travel insurance cover for the USA:
- Unlimited medical cover. It’s been pretty well publicised just how much medical treatment in the US costs if you don’t have health insurance, so make sure you look for a policy that provides unlimited cover for your overseas medical expenses. If you don’t have cover and you suffer a serious illness or injury on your American adventure, the financial consequences could be disastrous.
- Travel disruption. Tornadoes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and more – the US has its fair share of extreme weather events each year and they can play havoc with your travel plans. With this in mind, it’s worth looking for a policy that covers travel disruptions such as cancelled flights and closed accommodation.
- Crime. Crime is a risk at any major tourist hotspot around the world, so if you’re seeing the sights in LA or New York City then it pays to keep your wits about you. It also pays to have a policy that provides ample cover for the theft of your belongings.
- Additional cover options. Planning a golfing or skiing holiday in the US, or thinking of indulging in a few adventure activities? If so, you may want to add optional cover for these activities.
- Rental vehicle cover. There are few more iconic holiday experiences than a road trip across the USA, but make sure your travel insurance policy provides cover for the rental company’s insurance excess if your car is crashed, stolen or damaged.
How do I find suitable cover when travelling within Australia?
Planning a holiday right here at home? If so, you’ll need to compare a range of domestic travel insurance policies to find the one that’s right for you.
- Cancellation cover. Unforeseen circumstances, such as your home being severely damaged in a natural disaster or a relative unexpectedly passing away, can force you to cancel your holiday. Look for a policy that can cover your expensive cancellation fees and non-refundable deposits should this happen.
- Rental vehicle cover. If you’re hiring a rental car on your journey, travel insurance to cover the rental company’s excess following an accident, malicious damage or theft is hugely beneficial. Your policy can also cover the cost of returning the vehicle to the nearest rental depot if you’re medically unfit to do so.
- Lost, stolen and damaged luggage. Insurance protection for your luggage and personal items is just as important in Australia as it is anywhere else in the world. Just remember to read the PDS closely for details of cover limits and any sub-limits that apply to individual items.
- Cheap doesn’t mean best. Just because a domestic travel insurance policy is cheap doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. Compare the features and exclusions of a range of policies to find ideal cover.
I'm going to Bali - what should I look for in my policy?
Bali has long been a favourite holiday spot with Australian travellers, so here’s what you need to know about finding travel insurance for your Balinese getaway:
- Overseas medical expenses. It’s essential to find a policy that provides a high level of cover for your overseas medical expenses. In parts of Indonesia the standard of medical care is well below Australian standards, and the best course of action if you’re ill or injured on your holiday may be medical repatriation to Australia. This can be extremely expensive, so make sure it’s covered by your insurer.
- Cancellation cover. This is a crucial type of protection no matter where you’re travelling, so make sure it’s included on your Bali travel insurance policy. It guarantees that you won’t end up out of pocket if circumstances outside your control force you to call off your trip.
- Motorcycle cover. If you plan on getting around on two wheels in Bali, make sure you have a valid licence. In addition, make sure your travel insurer will cover you for any claims arising from motorcycle or scooter use.
- Water sports cover. Bali is the perfect place to indulge in some relaxing (and some not-so-relaxing) water sports. Make sure any water-based activities you plan on enjoying are covered by your policy.
- Be wary of exclusions. Make sure you’re aware of when your policy will not provide cover. For example, did you know you won’t be covered if your claim arises because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or that some insurers won’t provide cover if you ride a motorcycle above a certain power limit?
How do I find the best* international travel insurance?
What is the best international travel insurance policy? Once again, there’s no way to answer this question in a way that’s accurate for all travellers. The simple fact is that the best travel insurance for an international holiday can vary depending on where you’re going, what you’re doing on your trip, how long you’ll be gone for, the level of cover you want, how much you’re willing to pay for insurance and a whole lot more.
With this in mind, the only way to find the best international travel insurance is to decide what type and level of cover you want, and thencompare a range of policies that provide all the necessary benefits. Check the features, cover limits and exclusions across a range of policies and then compare quotes to find the best deal.
What if I have a pre-existing condition?
Having protection against illness or injury is one of the most important reasons for taking out travel insurance. If you have apre-existing medical condition, you have to inform your insurer of this fact when applying for cover.
Many travel insurers will automatically cover you for some pre-existing medical conditions without imposing a loading. These conditions commonly include asthma, diabetes, uncomplicated pregnancy (up to 23 weeks) and more. Other insurers will impose an extra charge on your premium before they'll agree to cover you.
If your condition isn’t on an insurer’s list of automatically covered pre-existing conditions, contact the insurer to ask if it’s possible to obtain cover. One of three things will then happen:
- You obtain cover after undergoing medical screening and paying an additional premium
- The insurer agrees to cover you but any claims resulting from your pre-existing condition will be refused
- The insurer refuses to cover you altogether
Be upfront and honest with your insurer, answer all questions truthfully, and compare a range of policies to have the best chance of finding the cover you need.
I still have some questions
Travel cover is crucial for ensuring that in the event you suffer a loss overseas, you minimise your financial expenses. This section provides an overview of some key considerations to make when looking for a policy.
PDS Glossary: What do each of the features mean?
When poring over your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), it's important to know what each of the features means, and how they will cover you. Read up on the most common features and extras, so you can find a policy that fits the bill.
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