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Why skipping travel insurance is a bad idea

As an island nation, the joy of travel is second to none for many Australians.

So, it hardly came as a surprise that as soon as our borders reopened following the COVID lockdowns, many hurried to plan their next overseas adventure.

Over the winter months alone, nearly three million Aussies crossed the Pacific to nurture their wanderlust.

Here’s why you shouldn’t pass on travel insurance in the process.

Checking passports and policies

The world has changed a lot in the past couple of years. And the travel industry has undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit.

To this day, it continues to grapple with the aftermath. For travellers, this has meant exercising more caution before and after dusting off their passports.

Here are some reasons for getting travel insurance.

According to smartraveller.gov.au, one in four Aussie travellers experienced an insurable event on their last overseas trip.

Travel insurance provides additional peace of mind, knowing you and your family are covered for most events.

Travel insurance not only covers medical emergencies, it can also cover your belongings and potential trip delays or cancellations.

Australia has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with some countries, such as New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Finland and Italy, but different countries have different healthcare systems. And there still may be a gap to pay.

In countries such as the US, getting sick or injuring yourself can cost big bucks. Medicare won’t cover you there.

Some countries require you to hold travel insurance before you arrive, such as Cuba, Turkey, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia or the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This usually counts for cruise ships, too.

Read: Travel insurance a must to avoid horror holidays

A layover gone wrong

For John and Marleen, a layover in Munich unexpectedly turned into an extended hospital stay.

Just a few hours earlier the pair were in Africa, boarding the first leg of their long journey back home. By the time they landed at the small airport in the Bavarian capital, it was clear they weren’t going to board a connecting flight anytime soon.

Marleen had started experiencing a stabbing pain in her stomach. At the hospital, it didn’t take long for the doctors to identify the culprit: appendicitis. Marleen needed immediate surgical attention.

“It was a truly terrifying situation,” recalls John.

“Here we were in a foreign country where we didn’t know the language. But we were lucky in happened where it did. And we were lucky we had the right cover. It meant that we didn’t have to worry about hospital costs, accommodation or missing our flight.”

Common types of travel insurance

According to the latest Travel Insurance Global Market Report, the travel insurance industry is booming. The global market value is set to double from US$16.05 billion to US$32.61 billion between 2021 and 2026.

What’s more, in 2021 the Asia-Pacific was the largest region in the travel insurance market. For Australian travellers, that’s good news. It means more choice and offers across the board, increasing your chances of finding a policy that meets your needs.

Read: What you need to know about travel insurance for cruises

Some of the most common types include:

  1. Single-trip travel insurance: these policies cover you for set dates of one trip only.
  2. Annual multi-trip travel insurance: if you’re a frequent traveller, you may benefit from a policy that covers you for multiple trips all year round.
  3. Long-stay travel insurance: if you’re planning to stay overseas for an extended period, namely between three and 18 months, this type of insurance has got your back.
  4. Complementary credit card travel insurance: some credit card providers such as Qantas or American Express offer complementary travel insurance if you pay for your trip with their card. This can be a hassle-free option for frequent travellers, but it pays to read the fine print.
  5. Domestic travel insurance: this type of insurance covers you for travel within Australia. While your medical needs are already covered by Medicare, it can still come in handy to protect yourself from things such as booking cancellations, rental car excess and losing your belongings.

What to look out for when booking your travel insurance

As with all other types of insurance, travel insurance is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Different policies come with different benefits and levels of cover, so it’s worth reading the fine print to see whether:

  • your policy covers every country you’re planning to visit on your trip
  • it excludes any pre-existing health conditions that may affect you
  • it covers everyone in your family joining the trip
  • it covers the activities you’re planning to do on your trip
  • it covers the loss or damage of any high-end valuables such as jewellery or technical equipment.

Read: Can you keep the cost of travel insurance down as you age?

The bottom line

Travel insurance often seems like an unnecessary expense until something unexpected happens.

And if the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that you never know what’s around the corner.

In the end, you may be better off knowing you’re covered than risking it all.

Do you always take out travel insurance? Let us know why or why not in the comments section below.

The information contained on this web page is of general nature only and has been prepared without taking into consideration your objectives, needs and financial situation. You should check with a financial professional before making any decisions. Any opinions expressed within an article are those of the author and do not specifically reflect the views of Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd.

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