Buying travel insurance before you head overseas could mean the difference between a great getaway and the holiday from hell, and although it’s possibly the least exciting part of travelling, it’s usually the most important.
Injury and illness are just a part of life, but the risk can often become heightened when you’re in a foreign country that you don’t know – meaning travel insurance will become your best friend in times of need.
With hundreds of policies out there and companies using confusing, unnecessary jargon, purchasing the right insurance can be confusing. But don’t be put off, it’s not that scary.
Put simply, travel insurance covers you for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, personal effects, lost, stolen or damaged baggage as well as a number of other problems that could go wrong when overseas. It’s vital you buy travel insurance and just as important you choose the right one, so here are a few things to consider when shopping through different policies.
Before you book anything, check official government websites for any travel warnings or risks in your chosen destination. Most policies won’t cover you for travelling to high-risk countries as well as severe weather, natural disasters, epidemics, pandemics or acts of terrorism or unrest, so it’s best to make sure you won’t encounter any of these things while overseas.
If you’re heading somewhere high risk you have to find a policy that will specifically include any concerns you might have. Also, consider that most policies will offer higher medical expense options for countries like the United States where medical costs are more expensive than other countries.
Don’t forget to ensure all of your destinations are covered if you’re heading to varying countries. Usually a worldwide policy is the easiest way to get around this as it will also cover stopovers during flights.
Flights, rental cars, cruise ships, bikes and any other form of transportation will need to be considered when choosing the right kind of insurance. It’s a good choice to pick an insurance that will cover you before your holiday even begins on the off-chance you have to cancel any pre-booked flights, tours or accommodation.
Policies most likely won’t cover any sports or adventures that are considered high risk like sky-diving or bungee jumping so perhaps avoid that while you’re overseas. If you plan on doing a lot of drinking then make sure you don’t hurt yourself because almost all policies will be null and void if the insurance company finds out you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
An incredibly important step is to let the insurance company know of any pre-existing medical conditions no matter how big or small. If anything happens overseas and you haven’t officially declared it, you won’t be covered. Triple check the medical section of the policy as well to make sure they will fully cover your health problems as some policies pick and choose as to what they want to cover and what they exclude.
If you’re a constant traveller, look into purchasing a multi-trip policy to save time and money each time you jet off, but if it’s a one-off trip away, just look at standalone policies. For medical emergencies, check the extent of the coverage, for instance if you injure yourself overseas, will you be reimbursed for continued medical treatment when you return home?
If you’re heading overseas with other people have a look at group policies as a lot of the time they’re cheaper than individuals. The same goes for families as some policies will even cover children under a certain age for free.
Make sure you properly cover any valuable items like expensive pieces of technology or jewellery as some companies will require you to pay extra. If you plan on doing any shopping while overseas, also see if your policy has any available upgrades to cover expensive items that have been purchased while abroad. With baggage, make sure you check how much you’re covered for if the airline loses it as it can range anywhere between $500 and $5,000 with different policies.
The cheapest insurance is almost never the best and although it might be tempting to save some money, you could end in more debt than ever if something serious happens while you’re overseas. If you’re looking for something a bit cheaper the best way to go about it is to check if you can get a members discount with your house or car insurance companies, as most of them will also offer policies for travel. Credit cards also usually include travel insurance and can be a great place to get good discounts.
Purchasing online and directly through the insurance company is usually the way to go, however before choosing your provider, check with the Australian Financial Services website to make sure they hold an official licence.
In the end, everything will be fine as long as you read the fine print in the Product Disclaimer Statement. Here you can check exactly what the exclusions are, specifically the medical conditions, the general policy cover and the claims section. Once you fully understand your travel insurance policy, all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy your holiday!