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What to look out for when choosing travel insurance


Travelling overseas may be an adventure, but there are 300,000 reasons to buy insurance before getting anywhere near a departure gate.

The Australian government's “Smart Traveller” website has a blunt warning for overseas travellers: “If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel…The Australian Government will not pay your medical bills for you.” The website also states that daily hospitalisation costs in Southeast Asia often exceed $800, while the cost of medical evacuation from the United States can reach up to $300,000. 

“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 assets, including their superannuation or family homes in order to bring loved ones back to Australia,” it warns.


Here's our checklist when it comes to travel insurance:


Shop around

Shopping around for travel insurance can result in significant savings, according to comparison website finder.com.au.

Based on three different traveller profiles of a 21-year-old student, a family of four and an older couple, Finder determined that travellers could pay three times more buying insurance from a travel agent and 2.5 times more from an airline compared to an insurer, for equivalent cover.

For a family of four's 21-day European trip, the average quote from insurers was $162 compared to $496 from a travel agency. The study found that even the highest level of comprehensive cover from an insurer was cheaper than a travel agent's most basic cover.


Check the fine print

As with any insurance policy, it's important to check the fine print as there can be big differences between basic, medium and comprehensive cover.

Although a dull read, the product disclosure statement should be examined to determine what exactly is covered, since some policies may have limits on individual items or don't cover changes to travel plans. Other areas to investigate include the cost of any excess, the proof required to make a claim, how to contact the insurer and any paperwork you need to bring on your trip.


Be truthful

Be honest with the insurer concerning your travel plans and medical history, as any falsehoods could lead to a claim being rejected. ASIC's MoneySmart cites the example of an overseas skiing accident where the victim broke her leg, but was not covered as she had failed to disclose a prior knee reconstruction.

Typical policy exclusions include such areas as extreme sports, pre-existing medical conditions, loss or injury from a disaster and loss of baggage if left unattended.


Key questions

When deciding on a particular policy, AAMI suggests travellers ask four key questions:

• 
Who is covered?

• How long is the cover for?

• Where am I covered?

ʉۢHow about stopovers?


Having a passport and a strong exchange rate may be essential, but going abroad without travel insurance is taking a high-risk gamble with your financial future.



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