Insurance Advice from www.smarttraveller.gov.au
If you incur medical expenses while overseas and you don’t have travel insurance, you are personally liable for covering these costs. The Government cannot pay for medical expenses overseas. Travel insurance is as essential as your passport, regardless of your travel destination. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
Comprehensive travel insurance covers the policyholder for insurable events that may occur before or during travel, such as trip cancellation/interruption, medical expenses for injury or illness, theft of valuables, baggage damage and more. The cost of travel insurance is based on the type of cover requested, the age of the insured, the destination of travel, length of stay and any pre-existing medical conditions.
• Travel insurance is a contract. Always read the product disclosure statement and ensure that you understand exactly what your policy covers. Travel insurance is not unlimited. It may not cover you for cancellation or change to travel plans. Keep a copy of the product disclosure statement for your records.
• Some policies do not cover cancellation as a result of the Government advising against travel to a particular destination or a change to the travel advice.
• Make sure your insurance policy covers you for the activities you plan to participate in and is valid for the duration of your trip.
• Clarify any specific policy issues directly with the insurer.
• Ensure that medical cover is adequate for possible expenses in the country you are going to visit. In some parts of the world medical costs can be very expensive.
• Ensure you declare any pre-existing medical conditions you may have.
• There are standard general exclusions on most types of travel insurance policies. These can include acts of civil unrest, self-inflicted injury, loss/theft of unattended baggage, loss/theft of cash, and pre-existing medical conditions.
• Some travel insurance policies may be invalid where injuries are sustained as a result of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Standard travel insurance policies may also exclude ‘dangerous’ or ‘extreme’ activity, such as snowboarding or surfing, rock climbing, kite surfing, hunting, bungee jumping and scuba diving. In some cases you can pay an additional premium to cover such activities.
• Generally, cover for luggage and personal belongings is limited and expensive items such as cameras, laptops and/or jewellery may have a per-item limit. In some cases you can pay an additional premium to cover valuables to a pre-determined amount.
While most Australians travel safely overseas, some find themselves in trouble. Each year we handle over 20,000 cases involving Australians in difficulty overseas. This includes over 1,400 hospitalisations, 1,000 deaths and 30 evacuations of Australians to another location for medical purposes. In cases where the victims are not covered by travel insurance, such personal tragedies can be further compounded by a long-term financial burden.
Hospitalisation, medical evacuations, or even the return of the deceased’s remains to Australia, can be very expensive. Daily hospitalisation costs in Southeast Asia regularly exceed $800; return of remains from Europe in excess of $10,000. The cost of medical evacuations from the United States regularly range from $75,000 to $95,000 and sometimes up to $300,000. The Department has handled medical evacuations from Bali in which costs have exceeded $60,000.
Unfortunately, not all of these cases involved travellers covered by travel insurance. Travellers who are not covered by insurance are personally liable for covering incurred medical and associated costs. As a result, families have been forced to sell off assets, including their superannuation or family homes, to afford to bring loved ones back to Australia for treatment. Where Australians cannot obtain travel insurance to cover their personal circumstances, they should consider the potential financial risks very carefully before deciding whether to proceed with planned travel overseas.