Holidays are a time for enjoyment and relaxation as we escape the monotony of our everyday lives. Unfortunately, our travel plans don’t always cooperate and unforeseen scenarios can strike at any moment during our travels. This is why more than 90% of Australians choose to take out travel insurance before taking their holidays each year.
Unfortunate travel events can happen to anyone, regardless of age or level of health. Travel delays, natural disasters, lost baggage, and sudden illness can all pop up during your travels to spoil the day and hurt you financially if you’re not protected by an appropriate travel insurance policy.
Most of us wouldn’t think of foregoing insurance on our beloved home or car, and financially protecting our often costly holidays should be no different.
While it may be apparent that obtaining travel insurance is a no brainer, finding the best travel insurance to suit your individual needs may not always be that simple. Let us explore what makes a suitable travel insurance policy and what you should look out for when choosing a travel insurance company to go with.
The importance of selecting a reputable travel insurance company
A quality travel insurance policy is only as good as the company backing it. One of the best ways to begin your search for a reputable travel insurance company may be to ask your friends and family who have needed assistance before, so they can give you a firsthand recommendation on what the experience was like.
Well-known insurance companies may cover well over a million people annually, meaning certain brands are sure to surface time and again during your conversations with others.
Good travel insurance companies will not pressure you into a one-size-fits-all policy; rather they will allow you to select a policy that meets your individual needs. Stick with a company that offers a policy with exactly what you need and won’t force you to accept any extras you can live without.
Search reviews and user ratings
It’s important to search online reviews and user ratings. A simple Google search for “travel insurance” will yield a wealth of results and information that will help guide you to make a wise decision. Don’t simply rely on the reviews supplied by a travel insurance company’s website though.
Look at product reviews, Google’s business star ratings, and CHOICE for trustworthy ratings and authentic reviews by real people.
If you come across a negative review, it’s important to understand why the customer gave a negative review, and decide whether that’s something that will influence your own decision making. Don’t necessarily get hung up on individual negative reviews, as most of the time it is very understandable, and that one experience might not be reflective of most customers.
Look at overall ratings and recent reviews to get a clear picture of how well a company operates. You should search reviews not only for positivity when it comes to policies and their value, but also for how well a company processes claims and provides you with emergency assistance during your travels.
You want to look for a travel insurance company that offers numerous points of assistance around the world, to help guide you through your travel accidents and misfortunes nearly anywhere you travel.
Look for award winning companies
Travel insurance companies can be quite persuasive with their words and promises, but only the top providers will be able to back up their claims with notable awards.
CHOICE doesn’t simply hand out their logo to just any company. Companies displaying the CHOICE logo have met high standards and performance requirements. CHOICE is independent and unbiased, with funds received going back into their non-profit operation.
Canstar issues awards for best domestic and international travel insurance. They compare dozens of Australian travel insurers to provide you with a transparent analysis of the best travel insurance options currently available. Canstar’s five star ratings are only reflective of the top 10% of travel insurance companies and products.
Choosing the right policy for you
No single travel insurance policy is right for all travellers; therefore, it takes a bit of research to find the one that is best suited to your needs. The first determining factor of what policy you end up purchasing depends on whether you will be travelling domestically or internationally.
You then have to select whether you need a policy that just covers yourself or one that will cover you and partner or entire family. Whether you are a single student looking to backpack across Europe or are looking to book a cruise, you can be sure that there is a policy specifically designed for your holiday plans.
Where are you travelling and for how long?
Once you decide on a policy type, you must also select one that is best suited for where you plan to travel and one that covers you for the entire duration of your trip. Once you decide on where you are travelling and book tickets, you should purchase your travel insurance as soon as possible.
You will only pay for the travel dates you have selected, so purchasing early won’t cost you any more money. Purchasing as early as possible will allow you to have early protection in case things like an unknown natural disaster strikes or other covered events prevent you from taking your holiday.
Make sure your policy covers all regions or countries you will be travelling to. This is equally as important if taking a cruise holiday as well. Travel insurance policies that provide coverage worldwide will generally cost more than those covering a single region such as Asia or Europe. If you only plan to visit a single country, it may not make sense to purchase a worldwide policy.
Again, it is important to note that you may not be able to get coverage for certain countries, most notably those that have travel warnings. You can search Smart Traveller for the latest travel alerts and travel advice for countries all around the world.
Whether it’s because of civil unrest or a looming natural disaster, you must make sure that your holiday destination will be covered under your chosen policy.
While you may simply want to purchase a single trip policy if you only plan on taking one holiday in a year, it may make sense to look into an annual multi-trip policy if you travel more often. These policies can cover you for several holidays within a year and can be more cost effective than purchasing individual policies each time you travel.
Modes of transportation
Most policies will automatically include coverage for flights, however, you may need to buy specialized insurance if you plan on taking a cruise at some point during your holiday. Even when cruising around Australia, it is important to get cruise travel insurance since you will most likely no longer have Medicare coverage once you leave port.
Having cruise insurance for both domestic and international holidays will also cover you for instances of cruise delays, cabin confinement, medical evacuations by helicopter, and missed excursions due to covered circumstances.
Selecting the appropriate level of cover
When it comes to selecting a travel insurance policy, you will generally have several different coverage levels to choose from. The most affordable policies are generally considered basic policies, while gold or top-level policies will provide you with far more comprehensive coverage.
Medical expenses can prove to be one of the largest possible expenses you can be hit with while travelling overseas.
More comprehensive policies will provide better coverage for things like personal liability, travel delays, lost or delayed luggage, trip interruption, legal expenses, and permanent disability that arise during your travels.
Covering your planned travel activities
Whether you plan on enjoying time on jet skis or flying through the air on zip-lines, you want to make sure all your planned travel activities will be covered. Not all activities may be covered under your policy, so it is up to you to either find out if you can add them for an extra charge or whether to abstain from those riskier activities.
Risky activities that may not be covered under most travel insurance policies include skydiving, shark diving, and cliff diving. Should you be planning a winter getaway, you may need to add winter sports coverage onto your policy if you plan on enjoying some downhill skiing, snowmobiling, or ice skating.
Fully understand your chosen policy
It is vital that you fully understand your travel insurance policy before your travels. Don’t be afraid to ask your insurance company any questions you may have and be sure to read your policy’s product disclosure statement for full policy details.
The small percentage of claims that end up being denied are results of travellers not fully understanding the policy they purchased. It is also extremely important to be honest when purchasing a travel insurance policy and you must be sure to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions. Failure to disclose everything may result in your claim being denied.
Many pre-existing medical conditions may be included on your policy already or may simply require a bit more cost to provide coverage for. Even if you’re condition is not covered, you may still be able to get coverage for other aspects of your travel and injuries or illness that come about due to causes that are unrelated to your pre-existing condition.
Most common travel insurance claims
According to recent statistics, the top travel insurance claim by Australians most often relates to having received overseas medical treatment due to injury or illness. Medical treatment claims accounted for well over half of all travel insurance claims. The next biggest claim relates to cancelled or delayed trips.
This can happen due to a death in the family or when an unforseen natural disaster strikes and stops you from being able to travel to your chosen destination. Rounding up the most common travel insurance claims include things like lost and misplaced luggage, personal liability, legal expenses, and costs for obtaining new passports or other travel documents. Regardless of what type of claim you may have, it is important to keep any official documents or receipts that can be used as evidence to support your claim. Be sure to save all documents and any correspondence you receive from airlines, hotels, police, and overseas hospitals. When a covered event does occur for which you may need to make a claim, it is important to notify your travel insurance company as soon as possible. They can help guide you through the process of submitting a claim and will discuss what evidence or documents you may need.