Travel Insurance – buyer beware


As a travel agent and Tourism guide I am often selling travel insurance to my clients. And I am sometimes concerned at how little they know and how much they take for granted about travel insurance cover.

So here are some tips to think about from me:

1.  If you are a frequent traveller then it is much more sensible to get Annual Multi-Trip International Comprehensive travel insurance cover.
BUT!  this does not mean you are covered all year. Most policies will only cover you for A MONTH AWAY OVERSEAS at a time. In other words 38 – perhaps 45  – days consecutively. If you travel for business you can get covered up to 90 days away. So if you are planning a delightful 3 month sabbatical in France with the family YOU WILL NOT BE COVERED IN AN EMERGENCY. Check which insurer offers you the longest cover time whilst you are away.

2.  You will not be covered if you have annual travel insurance and an earthquake or volcano erupts somewhere where you will be travelling next month for instance. That will be seen as a pre-existing condition that you knew about before you departed.

3. You will also not be covered if you choose to go to countries where you are advised by your government: DO NOT TRAVEL. So look on the smart traveler website: to see what countries these are.

4.  If you are over 50 years old premiums jump up. You are considered riskier to insure.

5.  With many insurance companies you will not be covered if a MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY DIES and you must fly home to them and that family member is older than 80 – 84 years old.  If they are younger than this but had a PRE-EXISTING CONDITION from which they died you will also not be covered!
Check which Insurers have no age limit on family member deaths. Many insurers see the death of an elderly parent as a PRE-EXISTING medical condition as the chances of them dying whilst you are away are so high. Hence this rule.

6.  You must declare any pre-exisiting medical conditions before you get cover finalised because if you don’t your insurance is null and void if they find out you had a coronary heart attack 5 years ago and didn’t tell them and then ended up in hospital overseas for the same condition.

7.  If you travel to the USA – you will pay more expensive cover premiums as those Americans don’t have free or cheap medical care as we all know.

8.  Travel Agents are not legally allowed to advise you on what cover to take out – but they can warn you about what to understand about your travel insurance.


9.   Many people think they are automatically covered when they pay for some part of their holidays on a credit card. There are so many different Credit Card Accounts, levels, standards etc you really must do the groundwork to find out if they will in fact cover you. For the few hundred it costs to get Travel Insurance cover separately from credit card cover it might be a wise saving in the long run.

9 b.   Some cards require you to pay for all of your trip through the card, which is easier said than done as many airlines and travel companies discourage credit card payments, while some credit card insurers require only the bulk of your trip or your airfare to be paid through the card.

10.  If you’re travelling with adult children, check the policy to make sure they are covered. Of the eight card issuers surveyed recently five policies will insure dependants only if they under 21 – they are ANZ, Bankwest, Citibank, CBA and HSBC.
Westpac has the highest age limit for dependants – those under 25 years old. Next is NAB.  And then AmEx – those under 22 years old.

Excessive excess?

11.  And now to how the excess – or the first amount you have to pay if you make a claim – is charged. As anyone who has had to make an insurance claim will know, this can be extremely irritating.
You need to know whether the excess applies per claim or per event. It’s the difference between paying it once or many times.
Take a car accident for which you have to make a claim for medical expenses, a claim for a missed flight and a claim for damaged goods and for which your excess is $200. If your excess is per event, it will be a flat $200. But if your excess is per claim, you’ll have to hand over $600.
If this is what your card offers, you’re probably better off buying cover with an excess that applies per event.

Take time to check the wording, particularly on exclusions, and see how the coverage compares to a stand-alone policy.

12.  Some Travel Insurers are now charging clients more for their policy if they take it out more than one month before they actually travel. This is because the further out they take out cover the greater the risk something could happen which might mean they have to cancel their trip and claim cancellation compensation.
NEVERTHELESS I counsel all my clients to take out travel insurance as soon as they have deposited on my tours. That way they are covered if they have to cancel and would lose their tour payments/deposits.

13.   If you take out FAMILY COVER travel insurance – your children will only be covered while they are travelling with you. They (and you) are not covered for their expenses if they travel at a different time from you on different flights. They must physically be with you at all times. If not, then take out cover for them on the dates when they are not physically with you.

14.  You can take out a GROUP or a DUO  policy if several of you – not necessarily family members – are all travelling together. This often can be quite cost-effective.

15.  Check your Insurer to see what age is considered a DEPENDENT child. Some have lower ages than others.

16.  Car Hire:  Please note that Rental Vehicle Excess cover is often not covered with your Travel Insurance so check if you need to make sure you are covered for this and do not want to pay the first 500 – 700 dollars or euros or whatever yourself if you have to make a claim.

17.  To claim anything you MUST PROVIDE PROOF. So for instance, if you are robbed you must go to the police in the place where the crime occurred and get a signed report from them that you were robbed. You will also need to provide proof of original purchase too. Otherwise you cannot just claim you were robbed overseas when you get home.
Keep all receipts and all invoices and proof of any payments made overseas to claim when you get home. Travel Underwriters just will not reimburse you based on a claim that cannot be proven adequately.

Here endeth the lesson………..




One response to “Travel Insurance – buyer beware

  1. Pingback: Dial 112 for Emergency | Travel Tips in France and Further·

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