Explore Travel Insurance

Have you ever risked leaving your luggage unattended at the airport while you ducked to the bathroom? Or, perhaps you decided to explore your destination from a motorbike on a whim.

While travel insurance provides an essential financial safety net during your travels, it may not cover you in every situation – like the scenarios above. As such, it’s vital you understand what travel insurance doesn’t cover before embarking on your next big adventure.

After all, you don’t want to be forking out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for something you thought would be covered by your policy.

Let’s look at what travel insurance doesn’t cover.

Exclusions can vary, depending on your insurer and the type of policy you have (e.g., one-way, long-term, domestic or multi-trip travel insurance). However, some exclusions are universal across all insurers. The exclusions will be detailed in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of your policy.

Seven common travel insurance exclusions

1. Breaking the law

Your insurer will likely void your claim if it arises from you breaking the law or infringing any rules and regulations at your destination.

Some examples of breaking the law may include:

  • you ignored local road/driving rules;
  • you drove a certain vehicle without a license or without wearing the appropriate head protection; and
  • you trespassed.

2. Travelling against government advice

Government bodies may provide advice and guidelines around travel. For example, your government may announce a travel ban due to risky circumstances or recommend specific vaccinations for certain countries.

While these guidelines aren’t law, they’ve been put in place to keep you safe. As such, if you ignore these guidelines, your insurer may void any claims for incidents that have resulted from you going against advice.

Examples of situations where your insurer may void your claim include:

  • you knowingly travelled against government advice to a country with an active travel warning;
  • you fell sick because you didn’t get vaccinated before leaving Australia (Smartraveller highlights which vaccinations you should get before travelling);

father and children hiking on holiday

3. Activities commonly not covered by standard policies

Snow and adventure activities can pose an increased risk for injury, which is why it’s important to get the right level of cover. For example, if you’re going skiing or kayaking, you may need to get add-on coverage (snow sports or adventure cover) for those activities and situations.

These add-ons will help ensure that you’re financially protected (to your policy’s limits) from unforeseen accidents related to these activities.

Situations where your insurer may void your claim include:

  • you were injured while participating in winter sports (e.g. snowboarding, skiing), and you don’t have snow sports coverage;
  • you decided to go skydiving even though adventure cover add-on doesn’t cover this activity (not all policies cover all types of activities); and
  • you decided to go on a cruise without cruise cover.

Note that even if you have appropriate coverage, you can void your claim by engaging in reckless behaviour.

4. Travelling despite known events (e.g. natural disasters and pandemics)

Most travel insurance policies will only provide cover for events that were unforeseen. If there were any government warnings about an event, or a natural disaster has already taken place, your policy won’t cover you.

Furthermore, your policy won’t cover you if a reasonable person in your circumstances would have been aware of an event at the time you purchased your policy. Note that once mass media covers an event, it’s assumed that you were aware of the event at the time you purchased your policy.

Examples of situations where your insurer may void your claims include:

  • you decided to travel despite government warnings on Smartraveller about an erupting volcano, and lost your tour deposits due to heavy ashfall;
  • there were severe storms or flooding disrupting flights, but you decided to take the risk and travel. Your connecting flights were cancelled due to the storms or flooding, and you consequently missed your accommodation bookings.
  • in cases of a pandemic, you travelled after the disease became a ‘known event’ (if you travelled before it became a ‘known event’ there’s a good chance that some insurers may cover you for any financial losses regarding medical expenses and cancellations).
  • there’s a travel ban on your destination and you decided to go anyway.

If you cancel your trip due to extreme weather, natural disasters or a pandemic, some insurers may provide compensation for some of your losses.

Learn more about cover for natural disaster.

a young couple travelling looking at a map

5. Pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, heed this advice: get a medical check-up well before your trip, and make sure your insurer knows about your condition. Disclosing this information may help you finance urgent medical care should the worst happen while you’re overseas.

If you hide your pre-existing conditions or neglect to tell your insurer, your insurer will likely refuse to pay any related claims.

Examples of situations where your insurer may void your claim include:

  • you forget to declare, or you hide, your pre-existing condition from your insurer; and
  • you didn’t get the appropriate level of cover for your pre-existing conditions.

6. Claims arising from carelessness

Your insurer may void your claim if you lose your luggage and passport because you left it unattended. Most insurers don’t cover circumstances that are preventable through common sense and reasonable safety measures.

Furthermore, if you don’t report crimes related to your claim within a reasonable timeframe, your insurer may not process your claim. For example, if a pickpocket steals your wallet and you don’t alert the authorities within 24 hours of finding out, your insurer may not cover your loss.

Insurers may reject your claim in these scenarios because reporting your stolen belongings to authorities is a common and logical step when someone suffers a genuine loss. Having done this, you’ll get a better chance of finding your items. It will also give insurers access to the appropriate reports when they assess your claim.

Other examples of situations where your insurer may void your claim includes:

  • you left your luggage or personal belongings unattended in a public place;
  • you failed to report a theft within a certain timeframe to the relevant parties (police, your airline or your hotel) and your insurer (usually within 24 hours);
  • you changed your mind – as in, you decide to cancel your trip because you don’t want to go any more or decided to go somewhere else, etc.

7. Incidents that arose from engaging in reckless behaviour

If you put yourself in danger, you run the risk of not being able to claim on your insurance. As such, your insurer won’t cover you for reckless behaviour like parkour, or injuries you suffered while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

One exception to this (depending on the insurer) is if you’re trying to save a human life.

Examples of situations where your insurer may void your claim includes:

  • you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident;
  • you participated in reckless or high-risk behaviour;
  • you deliberately went off-trail during a hike or activity;
  • you went scuba diving without a license;
  • you rode a motorbike or scooter that went over a certain cc capacity;
  • you ignored the tour guide’s dvice while you were partaking in a guided activity; and
  • you didn’t wear the appropriate and recommended safety gear for an activity.

a group of travellers enjoying an evening beach walk with sparklers

What else won’t travel insurance cover?

You’ll have to consult with your insurer to find out about any policy-specific exclusions. However, other general exclusions may include circumstances where:

  • you were compensated elsewhere for cancellations, delays or changes to bookings (i.e. by the tour operator, airline, etc.);
  • your claim is the result of an incident involving war, invasion, revolution, etc.;
  • a terrorist attack delayed your plans (travel insurance usually won’t provide compensation as this is considered a force majeure* event – you may still be able to claim for any unexpected medical expenses, however); and
  • your hotel/tour operator went broke.

Force majeure events are events that arise from extraordinary and unforeseeable circumstances that are beyond anyone’s control. These events typically free contracted parties from any liability or obligation as it is difficult for anyone to fulfil their responsibilities under these circumstances.

What does travel insurance not cover if you’re already overseas?

If you’ve already left the country before getting travel insurance, there may be a few additional scenarios that your insurer may not cover. For example, depending on your condition, you may be able to get cover for pre-existing medical conditions at an additional price. However, if you’ve already embarked on your holiday, this may be difficult if not impossible.

Furthermore, if you purchase a policy while you’re already overseas, your insurer may only commence coverage 48 to 72 hours after you pay for the policy. Find out more about getting travel insurance while you’re already overseas.

How do you find out what your insurer doesn’t cover?

Travel insurance is an essential tool for protecting your finances while you’re overseas. After all, no one wants to fork out thousands of dollars for an injury or lose their deposits on activities due to unforeseen circumstances.

To find out more about what your insurer doesn’t cover, check your policy’s PDS. You can find policy-specific information, including details about what is and isn’t included. Make sure you read and completely understand all the terms and conditions before purchasing the policy and travelling.

If you feel that your insurer has unfairly dismissed your claim, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

backpackers jumping into a lake

Find great-value cover for your next trip

When it comes to finding cover for your next trip, it’s important you understand what is and isn’t covered by insurers. We make it easy to compare cover inclusions, prices and features all in the one place!

Use our free travel insurance comparison tool to compare policies from a variety of insurers in Australia. What’s more, purchasing a policy through our tool costs the same as going direct.

Find out why it pays to compare travel insurance today!


1 Insurance council. (2020). Common exclusions. Accessed 6 July 2020.
2 Smartraveller. Travel Insurance. Accessed 6 July 2020.

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