There was a saying in our office – “if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel”.
We had a slow but steady stream of passengers who contacted us for various reasons – from having items stolen from their bag to more serious matters as having had an accident overseas and needing special assistance to both change their ticket and get home comfortably. Unfortunately they didn’t have insurance and thought it was up to other people & organisations to absorb the costs involved. Sorry – it doesn’t work that way and although airlines and travel agents can assist to some extent within reason, it’s ultimately up to the passenger (or their family in some cases) to cover the cost. This may range from a few hundred dollars to many tens or hundreds of thousands in the case of an accident or illness.
There are so many different policies offered by different companies at various prices these days that you’ve got many options and it’s really an expense that should be factored into your travel budget.
Insurance can be purchased from a variety of places
– directly from your travel agent (maybe not always the least expensive option)
– online through the travel insurance company itself
– online through your normal insurance company – many companies who provide your home, contents and car insurance now also offer travel insurance.
– through your motoring association e.g. AA, NRMA, RACQ, AAA – many of these associations will offer you a discount if you are a member with them.
– your health insurance fund
– the Post Office – I must admit this was one I wasn’t aware of but Australia Post, UK Post, NZ Post are just three of the countries whose postal service offers this facility.
What types of things does insurance cover? All policies are a little different but most cover the following types of issues:
– medical expenses in case of illness or accident and evacuation if necessary with access to 24/7 emergency assistance . Remember that medical bills in some overseas countries can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for serious events. You’ll need to check with your insurer regarding pre-existing conditions before purchase. Some conditions may be automatically covered whereas others will need further consideration.
– accidental death
– flight cancellations
– lost or delayed luggage
– personal liability
– rental vehicle excess
There are a couple of other little tips I’d like to add.
1, When paying for your travel by credit card, many card providers will provide free insurance (with a minimum spend) but you need to check the small print as to what is covered. My 85 year old Dad paid for his recent travel to Europe with his Visa. The bank his card was provided through gave him free full comprehensive cover – even with his advanced age. I didn’t believe him at first and had to check but he was correct. The same Visa card through a different bank provided full cover but not for anyone over 80 years of age. Some cards may only cover the cardholder but not a spouse or dependent children travelling with you. It is up to the consumer to check these conditions as you really want to have it right in case of a claim.
2. If you are trying to reduce the amount of the premium, some policies will allow you to adjust the excess payable in case of a claim.
So my advice is that travel insurance is a necessity for overseas travel – not a luxury. Do you really want that worry while you’re enjoying yourself on your trip away? Factor it into your budget and keep your mind at ease while you enjoy your trip.