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High-risk travel insurance

Getting travel insurance for your next adventure doesn't have to be risky business.

Whether you're looking to skydive over glaciers or venture off the beaten track, going out of your comfort zone doesn't mean going out of the travel insurance coverage zone.

See which travel insurance brands will cover your high-risk holiday, whether it's the adventure, destination or your current condition.

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What makes me a high risk to an insurer?

You could be an adventure sports enthusiast, plan to visit politically unstable destinations or have pre-existing medical conditions for these reasons and more you pose an increased claims risk to the insurer.

As a general rule, many high-risk activities, destinations and medical conditions are excluded from travel insurance cover. However, depending on your individual circumstances, it can be possible to find an insurer who can offer the travel insurance protection you need.

What sort of high-risk insurance are you looking for?

Finder survey: What type of holiday will Australians of different ages take in the next 12 months?

Response75+ yrs65-74 yrs55-64 yrs45-54 yrs35-44 yrs25-34 yrs18-24 yrs
Domestic53.49%57.76%57.89%62.8%65.75%63.11%52.86%
International46.51%48.45%39.77%47.34%44.88%48.06%58.57%
Cruise30.23%23.6%12.28%10.63%12.6%12.14%20%
None6.98%15.53%14.62%11.11%7.87%10.19%4.29%
Adventure trip4.65%4.97%7.6%7.25%7.87%6.31%14.29%
Ski1.24%1.17%1.45%5.12%4.85%12.86%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1112 Australians, December 2023

Can I get travel insurance for high-risk activities overseas?

The treatment of high-risk adventure sports and activities varies between travel insurers. Insurers will generally fall into three categories:

one

No cover for adventure sports

two

Some cover for listed adventure activities as standard

three

Cover for adventures sports can be purchased for an additional premium

There are some brands specialising in adventure sports travel insurance policies and others that can cover you if you’re competing in specific a professional sporting activities, so it pays to shop around and compare the available options.

If you do find cover for your chosen adventure activity, pay attention to the conditions listed in the policy - you may be covered only some of the time you're doing that activity. Conditions can include:

  • Hiking and trekking. Some policies include an altitude limit.
  • Skydiving. Cover will typically only be offered if you perform a tandem jump with a licensed instructor.
  • Scuba diving. Most policies have a limit on how deep you can dive before they won't cover you anymore.

Conditions vary between insurers and depending on the activity you want to participate in, so read the fine print of your product disclosure statement (PDS) for full details of the cover available and check out our guides below.

What high-risk activities are generally covered by travel insurance as a standard?

Activities that are usually covered in most policies include:

What activities are sometimes covered?

The following conditions can also usually be covered if you take out adventure sports cover, but conditions and limitations apply:

High-risk activities not generally covered by travel insurance at all

Finally, there are some high-risk activities that you’re very unlikely to find cover for, including:

  • BASE jumping
  • Motorsports
  • Running with the bulls
  • Mountaineering
  • Professional sports

Can I get travel insurance for high-risk countries?

Some of the most interesting and exciting travel destinations come with a heightened level of risk. This can be due to the threat of terrorism, ongoing political instability, or even a recent natural disaster.

A common exclusion on every travel insurance policy is you will not be covered if you visit a country where a travel warning has been issued. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises Australian travellers whether or not it is safe to travel to various countries. Check the Smartraveller website for up-to-date advisories.

Another common exclusion whether it’s reasonable to expect that you knew a destination was unsafe for travel due to reports in the mass media. It’s important to check with your insurer to find out if they will cover you if you are planning on visiting somewhere that is known to be hazardous.

Travel insurance and high-risk medical conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it can be difficult to find an insurer willing to cover any claims that arise from that condition. There are some pre-existing conditions that most insurers will automatically cover, including asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, blindness and deafness.

However, there are some high-risk conditions that are automatically excluded from cover by travel insurers.

  • Any form of cancer
  • Any condition which requires spinal or brain surgery
  • Heart or cardiovascular disease of any kind
  • Any chronic or recurring pain requiring ongoing medication or treatment, for example back pain
  • Mental conditions including dementia, depression, anxiety, stress and other related disorders
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Any condition for which you are awaiting diagnosis
  • Any condition which has caused you to be hospitalised in the last two years
  • HIV infection
  • Organ transplant, either if scheduled for the future or if you have already undergone the procedure
  • Any condition for which surgery is planned or scheduled for the future

Read your travel insurance product disclosure statement (PDS) for a full list of excluded high-risk conditions.

If you have one of these conditions it doesn’t mean you can’t take out travel insurance, but it does mean that any claims that arise because of your condition will not be covered.

Other important travel insurance exclusions

Although general exclusions vary between insurers, your claim will usually not be paid if:

  • It arises because you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • You leave your luggage or personal belongings unattended in a public place and they are stolen
  • You fail to take all reasonable steps to prevent and minimise loss
  • Your claim arises because you were breaking the law or behaving recklessly
  • Your claim is caused by a government authority withholding, confiscating, detaining or destroying anything
  • Your claim is for childbirth overseas, or if you travel any later than 26 weeks into your pregnancy
  • It is for a sexually transmitted disease
  • Your claim arises because you were riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet or without holding a valid licence in the country you are in
  • Your claim is for suicide or attempted suicide
  • Your claim is caused by an act of war, rebellion or insurrection
  • Your claim arises due to error or omissions in your booking or travel arrangements
  • You fail to obtain the appropriate visa for the country you are visiting
  • You fail to follow the road rules in the country you are in
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Written by

Richard Laycock

Richard Laycock is Finder’s insights editor after spending the last five years writing and editing articles about insurance. His musings can be found across the web including on MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism and has a Tier 1 Certification in General Advice for Life Insurance. See full profile

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    MariaJanuary 31, 2018

    My daughter is going to visit a country where a travel warning has been issued – Kashmir, Gulmarg skiing off piste. Do you know if there is any insurance that will cover her for this trip, a total of 19 days. Medical security and travel assist.

      AvatarFinder
      RobynFebruary 1, 2018Finder

      Hello Maria,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      I understand your daughter’s situation in finding a travel insurance. Please know that a common exclusion on every travel insurance policy is you will not be covered if you visit a country where a travel warning has been issued.
      You may go ahead and check this page https://www.finder.com.au/travel-insurance/international-travel-insurance/travel-insurance-travel-warnings and compare your options in looking for a travel insurance for countries with travel warnings.

      Hope this helps. Should you have further questions or clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

      Best Regards,
      Robyn

    Default Gravatar
    SharronAugust 11, 2017

    I’m looking for someone to provide travel insurance for a trip to the USA for 8 weeks. I have been knocked back by 4-5 companies as I have pre existing medical – in particular two unplanned surgeries in less than 2 years….Is there anyone who will insure me for this pre existing condition.

      Default Gravatar
      LiezlAugust 11, 2017

      Hi Sharron,

      Thanks for reaching out. While we are unable to recommend a specific provider that will provide cover for your condition, you might find our page on travel insurance with pre-existing medical condition helpful.

      Additionally, InsureandGo do not automatically exclude any conditions and claim to assess all conditions on a case-by-case basis.

      Also, CoverMore may be able to cover you for an additional premium, subject to the outcome of a short medical assessment.

      Please note that terms and conditions vary extensively among providers. It’s crucial that you declare any medical conditions that are not automatically covered at the time of application.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Liezl

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