Travel Insurance, Do I Need It?
Adventure travel is always a risky adventure. No matter how careful you are, expect the unexpected. I wish I had known this before my off the beaten track motorbike adventures.
A year motor biking the back roads of Southeast Asia was an incredible experience. Sure, there were near misses along the way but you’d put it behind yourself and just be a bit more careful.
Eventually there was the accident that stopped the trip. On a muddy road in northern Thailand the bike lost its way, slamming into the ground. The landing was awkward and the force strong enough to completely dislocate my right shoulder.
Later I was getting x-rays check-ups, a heavy dose of morphine and having my shoulder being put back in place.
Without travel insurance the hospital expenses built up quickly to just over $1000. I was lucky to have enough cash on hand to cover this.
I’m going overseas. Do I really need travel insurance?
To give us the down-low on travel insurance, guest blogger Laura Crowden from iSelect explains what you need to know about travel insurance and how to choose the right policy.
When it comes to planning an overseas trip away, taking out travel insurance has got to be about the most boring thing on your holiday to-do list. But while it is definitely tedious, it’s also one of the most important things to make sure you get sorted before you jet off.
I found out why travel insurance is essential when I was pickpocketed just after landing in Russia at the very start of a six month trip around Europe. Unfortunately it wasn’t just my wallet I lost but my passport as well. And trust me, there is nothing fun about being stuck behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ without a passport.
My comprehensive policy covered all the costs associated with hiring an interpreter to help me replace my passport and various visas, as well as covering new flights and cancellations costs. Without the thousands of dollars I got back from my insurance, I would have had to cut my epic backpacking trip short.
Fortunately, losing a passport doesn’t happen to everyone. But for even the most organised and experienced traveller, at some point lost luggage or a cancelled flight will throw their travel plans into disarray.
Why is travel insurance so important?
It may be a cliché but it’s true: ‘If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel’. Despite this, one in five Australians admit to never taking out travel insurance.
Basically travel insurance provides cover for a variety of travel related mishaps, such as expenses arising from a medical emergency, lost or stolen luggage and valuables, and trip or flight delays and cancellations.
If you don’t have travel insurance and something goes wrong overseas, then you’ll be forced to rely on family and friends back home to bail you out or find yourself significantly in debt. Remember, Medicare doesn’t cover you when you are travelling overseas and in the case of a serious medical issue, the bills can easily run into thousands of dollars.
A friend of mine found out how invaluable travel insurance can be on a trip to Bali. After smashing his ankle at 3am in the morning, he ended up in emergency, had to extend his stay to recover in hospital and then rent an apartment to recuperate before he could fly home.
His travel insurer arranged a business class flight home so he could keep his ankle elevated on the flight back to Oz, which allowed him to head home sooner rather than having to wait another three weeks in Bali for the swelling to reduce. Travel insurance took care of around $22,000 worth of expenses – not bad for a $49 policy that he only took out because his girlfriend insisted!
Don’t leave it to the last minute!
Around a third of Aussies delay taking out travel insurance, with almost one in 10 only taking it out only in the days immediately before they leave.
Although it’s better late than never, you should take out a policy as soon as you start forking out significantly for your trip. That way if something happens between then and when you are due to leave which will stop you from going, you’ll be covered for any cancellations costs.
The good news is that travel insurance is relatively cheap and may actually cost you less than that fancy backpack you have your eye on. 95% of Aussies told us that travel insurance gives them peace of mind when travelling. Chances are you won’t need to make a claim but if something does unfortunately go wrong, you’ll be glad you did pay that little bit extra to know you’re covered.
Top 5 tips for choosing the right travel insurance policy
- Get unlimited overseas hospital cover – look for a policy that provides unlimited overseas hospital cover in case you need an extended hospital stay, and includes emergency evacuation in case you need to be airlifted to the nearest hospital or flown back home for treatment.
- Always declare pre-existing medical conditions – Be honest on your application. Not declaring pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy) could void your policy and leave you significantly out-of-pocket.
- Consider paying more to insure valuables – Carefully check how much the policy pays out for loss of cash, luggage, jewellery or electronics such as laptops, cameras and phones. It can be worth paying a little extra for higher cover to fully insure your valuables.
- Multi-trip policies – if you are travelling more than once a year, a multi-trip (annual) policy may work out cheaper than buying separate policies for each trip.
- Cover any risky sport – if you are going to be doing any high-risk activities such as sky-diving, jet skiing, riding a scooter or quadbike, make sure you’re covered for these specific activities to ensure you don’t have to foot the bill if something goes wrong.
About the Author
When Laura Crowden isn’t travelling overseas, she’s busy working (to save up for her next trip!) as Corporate Affairs Manager for iSelect. Her travel essentials: her eye mask, at least five actual books and travel insurance.
What travel disasters have you run into, and where has travel insurance saved you a huge bill?