Some people think that you only need travel insurance when you travel abroad - but that's really not true. Travel mishaps can happen anywhere in the world, even when you're travelling in your home country. Domestic travel insurance can protect your pocket when things start to go a bit awry. Policies can range from cover for cancellations only, all the way up to more comprehensive policies that include skiing. We can help find the right policy for your trip.
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As of 18 March 2020, Smartraveller has raised its travel advice to "Do not travel" overseas and is urging Australians abroad to come home as soon as possible. Most travel insurance brands will not cover you if you travel against a government warning. If you already have a policy, please contact your insurer directly for more information. We are currently updating our site to reflect the Australian government’s advice. Some travel insurance policies will be temporarily unavailable.
Good reasons to get domestic travel insurance in Australia
Domestic travel insurance is important down under for a number of reasons. These include:
Protect yourself against cancellations. Cover if you have to cancel anything you've pre-booked due to things outside of your control, such as a sickness or death in the family.
Cover for your luggage/property. Without your clothes and belongings, your trip could go down under fast. Getting cover for luggage and property can help you buy the things you need should your airline loses your luggage or it gets delayed
If you're hiring a car. Adding rental car excess cover onto your policy is generally cheaper than purchasing from the rental company
Cover if you're going on a snow trip. Most brands offer ski insurance policies that will cover your equipment and reimburse you for unused lift passes if something goes wrong. There are similar policies for golfers, too.
Cover if your going on a domestic cruise. Unless there's a Medicare-approved doctor on board your domestic cruise, you're responsible for your treatment costs. If it's serious, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars. Plus, you can get cover for cruise specific benefits such as pre-paid shore excursions and cabin confinement.
Cover for other travel delay hiccups. A delayed flight could lead you to being forced to fork out money for an expensive taxi or paying for late check-in. Travel delay expenses help cover the costs of these things.
There are loads of domestic travel insurance policies to choose from. While most cover similar situations, you will find some differences with price and benefit limits. It's also often the case that certain benefits are automatically included or offered as add-ons.
Here is a list of some of our partners and how their domestic policies compare. The policy cost is based on a hypothetical 14-day trip taken by a 28-year-old traveller between 29 May - 11 June 2019.
Travel delay expenses
Luggage and personal belongings
Resumption of journey
Rental car excess
How to find the best domestic travel insurance
The best domestic travel insurance policy is the one that offers high benefit limits for the situations that matter most to you, and that also cover you for a wider variety of situations.
Here are some ways you can identify which policy is the best one for you:
What are the benefit limits? A benefit limit is the maximum amount of money you can be repaid for any specific area of cover. For many travellers, the most important areas of cover will be trip cancellation and lost luggage. Look for policies with unlimited cancellation cover and enough lost luggage cover to replace all of your luggage and personal belongings if someone stole them or the airline lost them.
Are you going to a wedding or other special event? If a transportation delay will cause you to miss a special event (such as a wedding, funeral or 50th wedding anniversary), the best policy will cover your expenses to make last-minute arrangements to be there on time. Other policies might pay you back for some of the money you spent on the event if you miss it, but they won't do anything to get you there on time.
Do they give you separate benefit limits for separate areas of cover? The best policies will structure it this way, whereas average policies will offer you one benefit limit for multiple areas of cover. For example, the emergency expenses benefit covers you if you suddenly become ill on your trip and you need to come home or spend extra on emergency accommodation. However, some policies bundle this together with trip cancellation cover, meaning you don't actually have as much trip cancellation cover as you originally thought.
Are you renting a car? If you take out car insurance on your rental car, your out-of-pocket expenses (or your excess) can run into the thousands of dollars if you cause an accident. Rental car excess insurance will help you pay for that. Most policies offer this, but the best policy will be the one that offers you cover for the excess amount of the vehicle, no more or less. You can find out your car hire excess before or when you book your rental car.
Does it automatically cover special activities? Many policies will make you pay extra if you want to be covered for riskier activities like skiing, motorcycle riding and cruising. If you will be doing any of these activities, the best policy will cover them automatically or at very little extra cost.
Finding a cheap domestic travel insurance policy shouldn't be difficult. Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your domestic travel insurance premium:
Buy a bare-bones policy. Some insurers offer budget policies that only cover you for the most costly risks, like needing to cancel your trip or cut it short due to an emergency. Obviously, you won't be covered for as much, but if you're looking to save, this is the easiest way to do it.
Increase your excess. You can reduce your premium by agreeing to pay a higher excess on your claims. Just don't increase your excess to a level you'd have a hard time paying.
Bargain shop. Insurers often run special promotions. If you look hard enough, you'll find coupon codes, giveaways and loyalty incentives.
Don't add options you don't need. Some people need extra cover, especially if their trip involves expensive hobbies like skiing. But if your flights and activities didn't cost much, you can go with a more no-frills policy instead.
Shop around. It definitely pays to weigh your options. Once you've determined what you need, comparing policies becomes much easier. Review your options carefully and pay attention to each policy's features, limitations and exclusions.
You might be surprised at how affordable domestic travel insurance can be. For example, the cheapest cost of a week-long domestic trip on Finder for a 35-year-old is around $25 (priced on the 14th June 2019). That's less than $4 a day for inclusions such as cancellations, your luggage and even theft of cash!
Is it worth it for a domestic trip?
Flights in and around Australia can often be quite affordable, so it's tempting to assume it's worth the risk to travel uninsured. To test this out, let's take a look at a case study.
Sarah breaks her leg, luckily she's got domestic travel insurance
Sarah is due to fly from Sydney to Perth for a two-week holiday in southwest WA, but just before she leaves, she breaks her leg and is forced to cancel her trip. Under normal circumstances, she'd be out the $560 she paid for her non-refundable round-trip ticket.
Luckily she had the foresight to purchase a domestic travel insurance policy for less than six bucks a day, and this entitled her to a full refund of the $560 fare. That's a $480 net gain. Not too shabby!
To top it off, Sarah's policy would have also covered a host of other cancellation fees and lost deposits had she also booked those. These include:
Rental car hire
So all of that would be refunded too.
Domestic cruise travel insurance
While you are justified in thinking that Medicare will cover you for any medical services on a domestic cruise, it's not necessarily the case.
Medicare will only cover the cost of your treatment if you're treated by a Medicare-approved doctor. However, cruise lines aren't required to hire Medicare-approved doctors, so taking out medical cover is your safest bet. Medical cover is not usually covered under a domestic policy for most brands, so you might have to purchase an international policy instead. Check out your insurers PDS to find out region will cover your domestic cruise.
Another benefit to domestic cruise travel insurance is that it can cover you for issues that regularly occur while you are on a ship. These include:
Cabin confinement compensation. While medical cover is important, it can't cover you for the time you lose being sick or quarantined. Gastro is common on cruise ships for example, so if you're confined to your cabin, your cruise pack can pay you a daily benefit amount for as long as you're stuck inside.
Missed shore excursion cover. If you've pre-paid for an excursion on shore and you can't make it for reasons outside of your control, this lets you lodge a claim to have the costs reimbursed.
Missed cruise departure assistance. Similarly, if for reasons beyond your control you miss your departure, this can provide you with cover for other accommodation and travel expenses.
Just search for your domestic cruise travel insurance by clicking the button below, enter your trip details, and filter the search by selecting "Cruise Cover" on the sidebar under Specific Cover Types.
While you could just get car rental excess insurance by itself, this will only cover your rental car and the cost is often much higher*. Just check out the case study below to see why domestic travel insurance is worth that little extra.
Greg doesn't get travel insurance for a road trip
Greg and his wife Gwen decided to take a road trip down to Melbourne up Australia's east coast for the long weekend. They rent a luxury vehicle from a rental car company to add some fun to their one-week journey.
A day before they left, Greg considered taking out a domestic travel insurance policy for $47. As well as cover for personal liability, cancellation fees and more, the policy would have provided $6,000 cover for rental vehicle insurance excess. Unfortunately, Greg forgot to purchase cover.
When Greg picked up the rental car, the rental company offered the option of purchasing a car rental excess reduction for $25 a day. The cost was quoted $175 in total, to reduce the excess payable in the case of an accident from $3,000 to $100.
Greg was keen to pinch his pennies and chose not to purchase cover.
So when Greg failed to check his mirror and reversed into a Mini in the carpark of a fast-food restaurant, he knew he'd made a big mistake. Not only did he break a tail light on the rental, Greg also dented the bumper and significantly scratched the paintwork.
Without domestic travel insurance cover in place or even the rental company's excess reduction waiver, he had to pay the standard insurance excess of $3,000.
Cost of damage done to vehicle: $1,900
Insurance excess Greg must pay: $3,000
Cost of domestic travel insurance: $47
Amount Greg could have saved had he taken out cover: $2,953
To search for domestic policies with car rental excess cover included, click the search button below and enter your trip details. Filter your search by selecting "Rental vehicle excess" on the sidebar and compare your options.
If you're a frequent traveller, or travel 3 or more times per year, purchasing annual multi-trip travel insurance can be much more cost-effective than buying a separate policy for each trip you take.
Annual multi-trip domestic travel insurance provides cover for all the holidays you embark upon within Australia across a 12-month period. There's usually a maximum limit on the length of each individual trip, but otherwise these policies provide all the benefits you would expect in an ordinary travel insurance policy.
What's not covered with domestic travel insurance
Because of Australia's public health care system Medicare, domestic travel insurance rarely provides medical cover. As well as this, insurers will provide you a list of circumstances that will void your cover. These are called exclusions. Here are some you may encounter:
You didn't disclose a pre-existing condition. You'll be denied for claims related to pre-existing conditions unless your insurer approved it ahead of time. If you have an ailment, tell the insurer before signing up.
You were careless with your belongings. Don't leave your stuff unattended. If it's stolen, the insurer won't replace it.
A. The answer really depends on what you have planned for your holiday. If you've pre-booked a lot of your holiday expenses – caravan sites, tours, ferry tickets (eg Spirit of Tasmania) etc – cancellation cover can still be useful. Other benefits, such as cover for theft, stolen or damaged personal items and trip disruption costs, could also come in handy, so it's up to you to decide whether you need cover.
At the time of writing, there are no Australian insurers that offer a custom caravan holiday insurance product. Because of this, it's also important to examine the cover provided by your caravan insurance policy. Comprehensive caravan insurance covers loss or damage caused by accidents, fire, storm, theft, malicious damage and more, so it's worth reviewing your cover before hitting the road.
A. Yes. Medicare will cover you regardless of what state you are travelling in.
A. No. Most insurers charge exactly the same no matter where you are travelling in Australia. This is good news for those flying across the country or staying somewhere fancy, because it means you won't be paying any extra even if your trip costs more. Even those travelling to remote locations will pay the same as they would if they were going anywhere else.
If you are going to the ski slopes, you have the option to buy additional ski cover that will cover you for bad weather, gear rental excess and lost/stolen equipment related to skiing. But this extra cost is not based on where you're travelling. It's based on what activities you will be doing.
A. Yes. Most insurers will cover you if over 70 years of age. In some cases you may be required to submit details of your medical history in order to take out cover.
A. In most cases yes. Most insurers will require you to be at least 200km from your place of residence for your domestic policy to apply.
A. Most credit cards don't offer cover for domestic travel, only for international trips. That said, there are some cards that will offer cover for cancelled flights, delays and missed connections under "inconvenience cover". Find out more about how credit card travel insurance compares to standalone cover.
A. You will not be covered by Medicare or Private Health Insurance for any medical related losses while at sea, even if travelling between Australian ports so it's definitely worth taking out an international policy. Learn more of the benefits of cruise travel insurance.
A. There are no Medicare benefits for Norfolk Island so you will need an international policy. As an example, for the provider Covermore, this would fall under region Indonesia, South West Pacific, Norfolk Island and New Zealand.
Gary Hunter is a writer at Finder, specialising in insurance. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and has previously worked for Real Insurance as a content specialist.
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