Travel insurance is perhaps one of the most unexciting parts of planning a trip, especially if you’re planning multiple stops around the world and there’s accommodation, food and activities to think about. But the benefits of having travel insurance far outweighs the effort, especially if you don’t have hundreds in the bank to replace lost luggage or thousands (even hundreds of thousands!) to pay for emergency medical attention.
But there are many travellers who buy insurance without knowing exactly what their policy provides cover for. In a commissioned survey, the travel insurance company Fast Cover found that 17.2% of travellers didn’t understand the specifics of their policy. Unfortunately no travel insurer will approve a claim simply because you didn’t understand the policy. So let’s tackle what some travellers may not know about travel insurance!
1.“Your medical condition won’t affect your policy much”
Some travellers believe they don’t need to tell their insurer about their pre-existing medical condition while others simply forget to tell them. It’s important to check your chosen travel insurer provides cover for your condition because if they don’t, you won’t be able to make a claim for medical expenses relating to the condition. Some insurers automatically provide cover for a range of conditions, such as Fast Cover which provides cover for 43 conditions including high blood pressure, coeliac disease and diabetes.
Many travellers also forget that pre-existing conditions can affect claims for travel cancellations. If you have to cancel a trip because of a pre-existing medical condition which your insurer doesn’t provide cover for, most likely your claim will be denied. Claims for cancellation due to a relative becoming sick from a pre-existing condition which your insurer doesn’t provide cover for will also most likely be denied.
2.“You don’t need a licence”
Thousands of people rent a motorcycle and ride around Southeast Asia without a license, taking on the potholes, mass congestion and the ‘might equals right’ driving mentality. That doesn’t mean it’s legal or that an insurer will provide cover for it!
Different insurers will have different specifications when it comes to motorcycling. Some will require you to have a valid Australian license for the vehicles you’ll drive overseas as well as a local license or an International Driver’s license. The first step is to find out what you’re travel insurance will provide cover for, then check out your destination’s local laws.
And don’t think your insurer automatically provides cover for driving a scooter under 50cc. You might be driving slowly, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a license.
Put simply, travel insurers won’t provide cover for when you act illegally or irresponsibly. If you’re required to wear a helmet by law when motorcycling (such as in Cambodia, Thailand and Bali) and have an accident while you’re not wearing one, or you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your policy won’t provide cover for the activity.
3.“Of course I have insurance for natural disasters!”
Timing is key when it comes to being insured for natural disasters. Most insurers provide cover for natural disasters, but not if the disaster is a known event. For example, if a volcano has already erupted and flights have been interrupted it is unlikely an insurer will provide cover for cancellations in a policy the next day. That’s why purchasing insurance soon after you book your holiday is the best idea!
4.“I’m insured when I’m drinking”
Having a drink or two overseas is all part of the fun of travelling, but once you’ve had a few too many and become intoxicated your policy will no longer provide you with cover.
5.“I’m insured for all activities”
Did you know that travel insurance might not automatically provide cover for injuring yourself falling off an elephant (or camel)? If you plan on doing an activity while overseas such as hiking, kayaking, scuba diving or skiing, check with your insurer that they provide cover for the activity.
6.“I can get insurance for any destination”
If your government announces you shouldn’t travel to a destination, then your insurer won’t provide cover for that destination. For example Smartraveller keeps up-to-date government warnings about where it’s not safe to travel. If a place is deemed unsafe due to high risk of terrorist attack, armed conflict, violent social unrest or crime then your insurer will likewise find it too risky to provide cover for travellers going to that destination. Check for government warnings before booking your trip.
7.“Valuables are insured up to the total amount of luggage cover”
Those with particularly expensive equipment might want to check the amount of cover provided for individual valuables. Often policies cap the amount of cover provided for electronics, such as $1000 for phones or $3000 for a laptop.
With these titbits of knowledge you are less likely to find yourself in a situation where you find yourself saying ‘but I really thought I was insured!’ Travel insurance provides cover for various emergency situations. But as a general rule, insurance is for unexpected emergencies, not high risk situations or reckless behaviour.