Although not all travellers take out adequate cover, most are at least aware that travel insurance can provide a range of benefits. As cheap travel insurance is now accessible and cover can be tailored to meet the needs and circumstances of the individual, there are very few reasons for travellers not to invest in travel insurance.
Photo: Dainis Matisons
It is increasingly apparent that many people do not know of some of the main areas that are covered by most travel insurance policies. It is possible for travel insurance to include cover for:
- Medical emergencies, injuries, accidents and illnesses with a sudden onset while travelling (pre-existing conditions can often be included in the cover).
- Dangerous or adventure activities. As some travellers like to indulge in pursuits such as rock climbing, sky diving or jet skiing while travelling, this can be an important and worthwhile inclusion.
- Personal liability and legal cover for lawsuits that may arise while travelling.
- Possessions that are lost or stolen. Cover of this nature may also include travel documentation such as passports and tickets as well as items such as cameras and laptops.
- A trip that is cancelled or needs to be shortened. Such circumstances that might fall within this category include: an emergency at home or a natural disaster.
- Financial protection or reimbursement in the event that the travel carrier declares bankruptcy.
- Emergency assistance available twenty four hours.
Some people question whether it is necessary to purchase extensive cover and, understandably, query whether all areas of cover are necessary for them. This is a difficult question to answer and it seems that the answer is generally ‘perhaps’.
The best way of thinking about travel insurance is to compare it to other types of insurance and the reasons why we have it. People commonly invest in insurance cover to protect their homes, cars, life and health and, generally speaking, hope that they will not be faced with circumstances so serious that it needs to be used. But, we have these types of insurance to protect us from hardship, expense and disadvantage should we be faced with undesirable and perhaps tragic circumstances.
Unfortunately, some Australians falsely believe that by having other types of insurances (such as health or life insurance), some or all of their policy will either fully or partially cover them while travelling domestically or internationally. In most cases, cover does not travel with the policy holder over international borders. It is vital to read the fine print and/or discuss the cover with an insurance provider.
Travel insurance can be obtained at an affordable price, but because there are a number of different options and different insurance providers, it is useful for travellers to shop around and carefully compare the travel cover offered by different companies. It is important to be astute and carefully evaluate the different offerings of providers; while one company may appear to be the cheapest, they may not offer cover in areas that are appropriate and relevant to the situation of the traveller. When comparing quotes and prices, be sure to compare like with like so that you avoid shortfalls and potentially, the need to purchase additional cover.
Travellers should also note that even if travel insurance cover is in place, policies generally do not cover drink or drug related incidents and other crimes, even if they take place as ‘play’. Similarly, most insurance ceases to be valid if the insured person is careless – for example, leaving a passport in view or neglecting to lock a rental car.
Travel insurance is incredibly important when you travel abroad but it is essential that you purchase the relevant and right type of cover.