Insurance expert debunks 8 travel myths ahead of the end-of-school-year festivities
After paying thousands of dollars for an overseas Schoolies trip, many teens may be reluctant to fork out for travel insurance, a hesitation that could leave parents financially and emotionally stretched if the unexpected did occur, such as lost luggage or worse, hospitalisation, says Abigail Koch, spokesperson at comparethemarket.com.au.
“Overseas schoolies trips are increasing in demand, with many Australian teens choosing destinations such as Bali and Thailand as their rite-of-passage getaway. While these are fun destinations, they’re also well-known for their dangers. The worry is that teens are paying out a significant amount of money for these trips but scrimp when it comes to choosing appropriate travel insurance coverage. Even more worrying is that some schoolie-goers may not purchase any type of travel insurance at all,” says Abigail, spokesperson at the insurance comparison website.
Related: Heading somewhere exotic? Check out our travel insurance guide for Bali.
Schoolies travelling within Australia are covered by Medicare and therefore no medical insurance is required. Those heading overseas however will require a policy if they want peace of mind that they’ll be covered if the worst should happen.
Abigail is calling on parents with teens to seriously consider taking out travel insurance, and urges them to base their policy decisions on content, not cost. “A basic travel insurance policy for an 18 year old travelling to Bali for a week will typically cost around $30, and cover most overseas hospital expenses and personal liability. More comprehensive policies, that include compensation for delayed flights, cover for luggage and personal effects, as well as rental vehicles typically start at around the $50 mark.”
To help parents and teens make the right decision on which policy to choose and the right level of cover, Abigail debunks eight of the most common policy holder misconceptions:
- Myth: Travel insurance is automatically included in the holiday package. While many Schoolies holiday providers make it mandatory for travellers to have insurance before participating in their trips, the buck falls on the traveller to organise their policy.
- Myth: Your teen is covered by your family travel policy. While your son or daughter may be listed on your annual multi trip family travel policy, unless they’re travelling with at least one parent, the insurance won’t be valid in the case of an incident. A school-leaver travelling independently will require his or her own personal policy.
- Myth: Alcohol makes no difference to a claim. If an incident occurs because your teen has had one too many, they may not be able to make an insurance claim. “Most insurers understand that people will have a couple of beers on holiday, but if you have an accident because you’ve had too much to drink, then those shots at the bar which seemed like a good idea at the time may end up costing more than you imagined,” says Abigail.
- Myth: Mobile phones will be fully reimbursed. “Even if your policy states that it will reimburse you for up to $600 for a lost or stolen electronic device, you’ll more than likely face deductions for general wear and tear of the device. You also won’t receive pay outs for things like rental charges or free minutes,” says Abigail.
- Myth: Hiring a moped is covered as long as the driver has an appropriate Australian license. This is not the case for all policies. While some insurers may pay out for hospital cover following an accident, this is generally only if you have a licence and the moped’s engine is 50cc or less. “Be sure to read the fine print as your policy may not cover any accident involving mopeds, particularly damage to the vehicle itself or liability as a result of the accident. As most moped hire companies require the rider to sign a waiver, the repair costs will fall on your teen’s shoulders,” says Abigail.
- Myth: Water activities are only exempt when an engine is involved. While activities such as surfing are commonly covered, more extravagant adventures such as open water sailing, jet skis and speedboats may not be. “Make sure you read the product disclosure statement carefully to understand what is and isn’t included in your policy,” says Abigail.
- Myth: Travel insurance will cover all health care costs until the end of treatment. “A travel insurer may only cover the healthcare given in the country listed on the policy. With most overseas hospitals only providing enough care until the patient is fit to fly back to Australia, once the patient lands on home soil, any additional treatment outside of Medicare must be covered by the individual,” says Abigail.
- Myth: Travel insurance is a last-minute task. The policy is valid from the moment you purchase it, therefore if an incident occurs making you unfit to travel, you may be able to claim back your costs. Before booking the big trip, parents should sit down with their teen and review product disclosure statements from a number of insurers to ensure they select the policy most appropriate for them and their destination.