Get overseas travel insurance with unlimited medical, cancellation and luggage cover
Travel insurance is a must. Disaster can strike at any time, and if you’re not properly prepared unexpected events can completely ruin your holiday. Don't let you next trip overseas get interrupted because of unforeseen events. Protect yourself with an international travel insurance policy. Travel insurance minimises the chances of you having to deal with expenses relating to cancellation, medical, personal liability and a whole lot more.
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Overseas travel insurance typically includes cover for the following:
- Are my medical expenses covered? If require medical assistance overseas, your international travel insurance policy covers costs for situations such as emergency dental treatment, ambulance transport and hospital expenses. If you need repatriation to Australia, this is also sometimes covered.
- Am I covered for additional accommodation and travel expenses? If a medical adviser certifies that you are unfit to travel due to illness or injury, your international travel insurance generally covers any additional resulting accommodation and travel expenses.
- Can I get a hospital cash allowance? Some overseas travel insurance policies include a hospital cash allowance to help you cover out-of-pocket expenses if you or your travelling partner is hospitalised overseas.
- What if I have a family emergency? Cover kicks in if, during your journey, your travelling companion or a relative of either one of you dies unexpectedly, becomes disabled or falls seriously ill.
- What happens if I have to change my trip? If an unexpected event such as illness or job loss forces you to cancel your trip while travelling or before you’ve even left home, overseas travel insurance can reimburse you for the non-refundable trip expenses you would otherwise be unable to recoup.
- Can I get cover for my luggage and travel documents? Should your luggage or personal effects be lost, stolen or damaged during your travels, your policy covers the cost of repairing or replacing the items concerned.
- What happens if my bags get delayed? Airlines seem to misplace luggage on a regular basis, so if the arrival of your luggage is delayed you might be eligible for a cash allowance to help you purchase essential emergency items such as clothing and toiletries.
- Am I covered for lost money and credit cards? If you lose your wallet or money is stolen from you, your policy will help replace your cash. Cover is also available to help replace lost or stolen credit cards and to prevent you becoming a victim of fraud.
- Can I get rental vehicle insurance excess cover? If you’re liable to pay a rental vehicle insurance excess as a result of damage to or theft of a rental vehicle, your policy will cover this excess.
- What if I'm delayed? If pre-booked transport on your journey is delayed due to circumstances outside your control, overseas travel insurance policies will pay a benefit to cover any additional accommodation expenses that may arise as a result.
- Can I resume me journey? In the event that you are forced to return to Australia due to the sudden serious injury, sickness or death of a relative or business partner, your insurance plan will cover the airfare to transport you back overseas so you can resume your journey.
- Is there cover for alternative transport? If circumstances beyond your control mean your journey is delayed and you would be unable to arrive in time to attend an event such as a wedding, funeral or sporting event, your insurance will cover alternative transport arrangements to get you there on time.
- What happens if I can't work? If you suffer an injury while travelling that prevents you from returning to work in Australia, your policy will provide a monthly benefit payment to help cover your loss of income.
- Is disability covered? If you suffer an injury on your trip and become permanently disabled, your insurance cover will offer a benefit payout.
- What happens if I die?. Should tragedy strike and result in your death, a benefit will be paid to your estate to help your family look after their finances while they deal with their loss.
- Am I covered for personal liability? If you are judged to be legally liable to pay compensation in respect to damage caused to someone else’s property or the injury or death of someone else, your insurance will cover the cost.
- What if I crash my rental car? Most policies will cover the excess charges from the rental company. Charges can be as much as $5000
Everybody is different, which is why it's important to know if you have any special requirements. Before buying an international travel insurance policy you may want to consider:
- Do I need increased cover for expensive items? Many policies only pay a limited amount for items of luggage or personal effects that are lost or stolen. If you’re willing to pay an extra premium, you can increase the amount of cover provided for high-value items, for example expensive digital cameras or laptop computers. It's important to note that insurers will apply a limit to what will be paid per item and a maximum limit for all items claimed for.
- Is there an excess eliminator? Some policies let you adjust or even remove the excess when you arrange your insurance policy. Of course, the smaller the excess, the larger the premiums you will have to pay. The charge to remove the excess is usually about $15
- Does my policy cover pre-existing conditions? Different providers treat insuring pre-existing medical conditions differently (see section below), but it may be possible to include additional cover for some pre-existing medical conditions, for example anxiety or dementia. A medical assessment may be required to apply for such cover.
- Can I increase my rental car cover option? You may wish to increase your policy’s car rental excess cover to help cover the cost of expensive car rental company excesses.
- Am I covered if I ride a motorcycle? If you’re planning on travelling overseas via motorcycle or moped, you can arrange for your policy to include cover for this. This will obviously increase your premium, while limits such as the power of the bike and the necessity to wear a helmet do apply.
- Are winter sports covered? Some policies will offer extra cover at an additional cost for winter sports and other activities that are seen to carry an increased risk. If you’re an adventure junkie or simply like to stay active, this may be a necessary extra for you.
How am I covered for Medical Expenses on overseas trips?
One of the most important areas of cover for overseas travel insurance is cover for emergency medical expenses and emergency evacuation. Most insurers will provide cover for;
- Emergency overseas medical assistance: This will usually include 24 Hour Emergency Medical Assistance, Ambulance Charges, Medical Evacuations, Messages to Relatives
- Emergency hospital expenses: Provides cover for overseas medical treatment if you are injured or become sick overseas. This could include Medical, Hospital, Surgical and Nursing costs
- Overseas dental cover: Provides cover for emergency dental treatment to relieve sudden and acute pain
- Hospital cash allowance: Provides cover for additional hospital expenses up to a maximum amount if you are hospitalised for longer than 48 hours
What do I do if I suffer a medical emergency overseas?
- Get the necessary treatment. Your first priority is to find a suitable medical facility to be properly looked after
- Contact your insurer and find out what will be required for your claim to be processed i.e. documents from medical staff, receipts for medication, ambulance drivers etc.
- Most insurers will have a 24 hours claims line that can be used in the event you need to make a claim
- Keep necessary documentation that will be needed in the event of a claim
- If you need to return home to seek treatment, your insurer is able to organise flights home if you are unable to do so
Am I provided cover overseas by my health insurance under the reciprocal health care agreement?
While Medicare does not provide cover for medical treatment received overseas, there are a number of countries that have signed a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with the Australian Government that will provide treatment at a subsidised rate. Countries that are currently part of the agreement include: Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway, New Zealand, Slovenia, Sweden, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom and The Republic of Ireland
Does it replace the need for travel insurance with Medical Cover?
No. Benefits vary significantly from country to country and there is likely to be limitations on the actual treatment you receive and for how long you will receive treatment. It is highly unlikely that you will be covered for all medical events.
It is still extremely important to take out travel insurance to provide cover for emergency medical evacuation and treatment while overseas.
One common question people have when looking for international travel insurance is whether or not they can get cover for pregnancy. You can. Depending on the provider, you can get cover for up to 32 weeks pregnant.
What is normally covered?
- unexpected complications
- if you are travelling while inside the limit for pregnancy cover by insurer (e.g. 26 weeks)
- pregnancy that is not a multiple pregnancy.
What isn't generally covered?
- if travelling past the week limit set by insurer (e.g. 26 weeks)
- your travel overseas was for a fertility treatment
- if you experienced any complications prior to the trip
- you are travelling against the advice of a doctor.
Can seniors get international travel insurance?
It is possible for seniors to get international travel insurance but there is likely to be a premium loading for travellers over the age of 60. While entry conditions may vary between providers, most insurers will apply the following terms for older travellers looking to apply;
|Age||Able to take out cover?|
|Under 60||Able to purchase any policy pending pre-existing medical conditions|
|60 years of age and above||Able to purchase any policy though will usually have to pay an additional premium|
|Under 75 years of age||Able to purchase policy with reduced cover and benefits|
|Under 80 years of age||Able to purchase policy with reduced cover and benefits|
|80 years of age and older||Will usually be required to submit evidence of their medical history before cover is granted|
The following events are generally not covered on international travel insurance policies:
- Drugs/alcohol related claims. People tend to have more accidents when they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but don’t expect to be covered if your claim is based on an event caused by your intoxication. Keep this in mind wherever you may be travelling overseas.
- Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles have a well-earned reputation as dangerous vehicles, and when you throw in the conditions many travellers end up riding in while overseas—such as without helmets, wearing inappropriate clothing and through heavy traffic congestion—it’s no great surprise most policies won’t cover you in the event of a motorcycle accident.
- Loss of luggage/personal belongings due to negligence. While theft of your personal items is covered, you won’t receive a benefit if your luggage or personal belongings are lost or stolen due to your negligence. For example, if you leave your bag sitting under a chair while you duck off to the toilet, only to discover someone has stolen it while you were gone, don’t expect sympathy from your insurance provider.
- Adventure activities not listed on policy. Adventure junkies beware: many activities like skydiving and parasailing will not be included on overseas travel insurance policies. Some policies will let you add cover for certain activities, but be aware that if an activity is not specifically listed and you partake in it, you won’t be covered.
- Pregnancy after certain times. These policies will not cover you for childbirth overseas, nor will pregnant women be covered if they travel after 26 weeks. Remember this when making your travel plans.
- Losses in dangerous countries. The Australian government issues advice about regions that are and are not safe to visit. If you ignore this advice and head to one of the countries the government does not recommend visiting, you won’t be covered if anything happens to you.
- Sexually-transmitted diseases. Overseas travel insurance policies will not cover you if you contract a sexually-transmitted disease while overseas.
Is it possible to get travel insurance to cover international work?
Generally, cover for losses experienced while working overseas is generally excluded. That said, there are a number of policies designed for backpacker travellers that will provide some cover in the event that you suffer an injury while working casually overseas.
Some tips for those looking to live and work overseas;
- Read your PDS to find out exactly what your travel insurance will cover
- If planning to work overseas, check with your employer if you will be covered for losses experienced at work
- It could be worth taking out cover with a local insurance company in the country you are planning on working in
- If you are planning on working overseas as an Expatriate, you should consider taking out Expatriate Health Insurance to ensure that you and your family have adequate cover in place. This type of cover is designed to provide cover to expatriates anywhere in the world. In most cases, you will need to suspend your existing health insurance
Though coverage can vary between providers, most insurance companies will provide cover for the following countries and regions:
- Worldwide: North, Central and South America (including Hawaii and the Caribbean), Canada, Africa, Middle East, Japan, Greenland, Iceland, Arctic Circle, Antarctica, Sub-Antarctic Islands
- Europe: Including Russia and the United Kingdom
- Asia: Excluding Japan and Bali
- Pacific: American Samoa, Ashmore & Cartier Islands, Bali, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Heard Island & McDonald Island, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis & Futuna Islands
- Australia: Most insurers also offer domestic policies for travel within Australia. This includes Norfolk island.
However, it’s important to remember that some policies will not cover you if you visit a destination the Australian government has advised against travelling to. Make sure to keep abreast of government alerts so you don’t get caught out. The Department of Foreign Affairs is the best resource for checking what countries are currently advised to not travel to.Back to top
How much does international travel insurance cost?
The amount you pay for international travel insurance will depend on a number of factors including;
- Where you are travelling to - Countries that have been shown to have an increased likelihood of claims incurring will be more expensive to take out cover for
- Duration of your trip - Obviously the longer you plan to travel for the more expensive your cover will be
- The policy you choose - A comprehensive policy with greater range of cover features will cost more than a basic policy
- Additional cover options - The inclusion of additional cover for winter sports, specific valuables will result in an increase in premium price
- Pre-existing medical conditions - Some pre-existing conditions will result in a premium loading
- Your age - Premiums generally increase with age
- Shop around. The first thing to remember is not to go straight to a travel agent or airline for your international travel insurance. Agents and airlines add huge commissions on top of the cost of your policy, so they end up charging you much more than you need to pay.
- Compare whats available. Don’t just buy the first policy you come across. Compare multiple policies from a range of providers before signing on the dotted line. How much does each policy cover? Which policy has the most suitable cover for the type of trip you are planning? A little time spent doing research now can save you a lot of trouble when disaster strikes.
- Determine an adequate level of cover. Will a basic level of cover be enough for the trip you’re planning? Or are you planning a complex journey to multiple destinations that may require more detailed and more expensive insurance cover?
- Single-trip or multi-trip policy. Take a second to consider the number of trips you take each year. If you’re a frequent traveller, you might be better off investing in an annual multi-trip policy to provide insurance cover for several trips for year. However, if the holiday you’re planning is more of a one-off thing, look at a policy to cover just this one journey.
- Consider joint policies. If you’re travelling with a spouse, family member or other companion, you can save a significant amount of money by purchasing a joint policy as opposed to buying separate cover.
- Look for discounts. If you find a great discount, take advantage of it. Some insurers offer discounts to regular customers, while certain employers also have group deals with insurance companies.
- Get cover straight away. Take out insurance cover as soon as you make a booking so cancellation cover can apply. If an unexpected event forces you to cancel your trip, insurance can help you recoup your non-refundable expenses.
If you have a credit card or high end debit card, you may already have travel insurance for international trips. However, make sure you understand the cover provided and how it works prior to your departure. To work out if you're getting the best international travel insurance from your credit card you may want to ask yourself:
- Does my card cover unlimited overseas medical? Some credit card travel insurance policies limit cover for overseas medical to $500,000
- Do I need comprehensive cover? Travel insurance provided by credit cards is generally quite basic
- Do I need to pay for my flights to activate my cards cover? Activating your credit card travel insurance sometimes requires you to pay for all or part of your trip using the card. This is important. If this is the case and you don't plan on using that card then you may want to choose an international travel insurance policy from a dedicated provider
- How long am I travelling for? Most credit card travel insurance policies won't cover long-term trip. It could be worth considering a "backpacker" policy if you are planning on travelling for more than 12 months
- Is my pre-existing condition covered? One of the gaps in most credit card travel insurance policies is the pre-existing condition cover. Because these are broad form policies there isn't any wiggle room with medical issues. So, if you have a medical condition, a stand alone international travel insurance policy is probably a better option
Some important traps to watch out for
- If the purpose of your trip is for business, you may not be covered by all international policies
- The excess can be much higher on credit card cover with some cards applying up to $500
- You will have to have paid for all or at least a portion of your trip on your card for cover to be activated
- Level of cover provided is usually reduced to what is offered on standalone policies
- Maximum period of travel is usually limited to around 90 days
- Some cards will have restrictions on age limits for older travellers
When you're going overseas, you may want to consider the following questions.
- Do I need to read the PDS? Yes, travel insurance policy documents are far from thrilling reading, but examining the PDS of each product closely is the only way to fully discover the ins and outs of each policy.
- How much medical cover do I need? How much is included in the medical cover offered by each different provider? This is one area where you definitely don’t want to get caught short.
- Am I going to be playing any sports? Can you add optional cover for sports and adventure activities to your insurance? If you’re likely to be participating in experiences like these while travelling, you may want to take out cover.
- Are there any policy exclusions? Pay particularly close attention to the exclusions section of each PDS. Exclusions differ between insurance policies so don’t simply assume every policy is the same. Make sure you know what is covered and what isn’t.
- Can I get emergency assistance? It’s essential that your travel insurance gives you access to a respected emergency assistance provider. The last thing you want to happen is to be stranded when you find yourself in an emergency situation overseas.
- How big is the excess? Compare the excess you will have to pay when making a claim on each competing policy.
- How much are the premiums? This is an obvious consideration, but don’t forget to factor in excess costs as well when comparing premiums.
- Have I done my homework? Use comparison sites like finder.com.au to weigh up the pros and cons of different policies, and search for online reviews from other insurance customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who is Eligible to Apply for International Travel Insurance?
A. Travel insurance brands will usually require applicants to;
- Be residents of Australia
- Journey commences and ends in Australia
- Within the age restrictions applied by the insurance provider
- Non-permanent residents of Australia with Medicare, Private Health Cover or Overseas Student Travel Insurance
Q. If I’m taking out a group policy, do I need to be related to the policy owner?
A. No. Individuals listed on a group policy do not have to be related. Group policies are designed to provide cover for friends, colleagues, school groups and families
Q. How do I figure out what region the country I am travelling to falls under?
A. The PDS will list all countries covered under different region groups. These may vary between insurers so it is worth getting a clear idea of where you are covered. If it is still not clear what region you should choose, it could be worth speaking with your insurer directly
Q. When can I purchase international cover?
A. Cover can generally be purchased up to 12 months prior to the commencement of your trip. It can be worth taking out cover earlier to make sure you are covered for trip cancellation
Q. What if I am already overseas?
A. Some policies will let you take out cover if you are already travelling overseas. It’s worth noting that a waiting period of seven days will usually apply
Q. Can I cancel my policy? Will I be reimbursed?
A. Yes. Most policies offer a cooling-off period after purchase has been made where you are able to cancel your policy if it is not what you are after. A full refund will be provided if the policy is cancelled within the necessary time-frame (usually about 14 days)
Q. Can I make adjustments to my policy?
A. Yes. You can make adjustments to your policy by contacting your insurer within the cooling-off period.
Q. What is a dependent?
A. Most insurers will recognise a dependent as a child or grandchild that is under 21 years of age and not engaged in full-time employment. They will need to be travelling with the policyholder for the duration of the trip in order for cover to apply
Q. Can I extend my policy if I am overseas and want to keep travelling?
A. Yes. Most insurers will allow you to extend your policy if you request to extend your cover within a certain period of time before the policy finishes. Upon contacting your insurer to extend your policy, you will be provided with a quote for extending your cover.
Q. What happens if I suffer a medical emergency while overseas?
A. You will be transferred to the closely medical facility for treatment or if necessary, be brought back to Australia to undergo any necessary treatment. All expenses for medical evacuation will need to be approved by the insurer.
Q. What happens if I need to return home following a medical emergency and I am travelling with a dependent child?
A. Cover for transport home is also provided to dependent children if they are left unsupervised following a medical loss.
Q. Am I covered for stopovers on international trips?
A. Yes. Most insurers will provide cover for up to 48 hours in a geographical region outside of the region you are covered for if you have a stopover on your travels.
Q. How many international trips can I make if I have an annual multi-trip policy?
A. You are covered for an unlimited number of trips in any 12 month period. The maximum duration of time that can be travelled for each trip is generally;
- 30 days per trip
- 45 days per trip
- 60 days per trip
- 90 days per trip
Q. I am planning on taking a domestic cruise, what cover should I get?
A. You will need to select an international policy because you will not be covered for medical losses between Australian ports by Medicare or Private Health Insurance
Q. I have family visiting from overseas, is it possible to take out cover for them for their trip to Australia?
A. Yes. There are a number of insurers in Australia that provide cover for non-resident visitors to Australia
Q. Can I get international cover with a pre-existing condition?
It is possible to take out international travel insurance if you have pre-existing medical conditions, but not all pre-existing medical conditions will be covered under your policy. The definition of pre-existing medical conditions includes a range of medical and dental conditions of which you are aware, which have been investigated and/or treated by a health professional, or any condition for which you have had surgery or for which you take prescribed medicine.
The list of conditions excluded from many policies includes things like cancer, chronic or recurring pain, HIV infection and cardiovascular disease. If you end up in a medical emergency as a result of your uncovered pre-existing medical condition, you will have to cover your overseas medical expenses—which can be very expensive in some countries.
But some pre-existing conditions are automatically covered by many international travel insurance policies. These include acne, some allergies, asthma in people under 60 years of age, diabetes (terms and conditions apply), epilepsy and migraines.
If your condition is not automatically covered by the insurer, you have to provide further evidence around the nature of your condition and any current treatment you are undertaking. In some cases the insurer will exclude the condition from cover or apply a premium loading. It's always worth contacting your insurer to discuss your condition prior to purchasing cover.
Depending on your provider, it may also be possible to purchase cover for other pre-existing medical conditions, so read the PDS and speak to an insurance advisor to determine how each policy applies to you.