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 via motorbike on a whim.

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

After all, you don’t want to be paying 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.

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

Common travel insurance exclusions

1. Breaking the law

Your insurer will likely refuse 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 or driving rules.
  • You drove a particular vehicle without a licence or without wearing the appropriate head protection.
  • You trespassed

2. Travelling against government advice

Government bodies may issue advice and guidelines around international travel. For example, the Australian Government may announce a travel ban due to potentially dangerous circumstances or recommend specific vaccinations for certain countries.

While these guidelines aren’t law, they’ve been implemented to keep you safe. As such, if you ignore these guidelines, your insurer may void any claims for incidents that resulted from you going against government 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 (such as ‘do not travel’).
  • 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 getting the right level of cover is important. For example, if you’re going skiing or kayaking, you may need add-on coverage (snow sports or adventure cover) for those activities and situations.

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

Situations where your insurer may reject your claim include:

  • You were injured while participating in winter sports (e.g. snowboarding, skiing) and you don’t have snow sports coverage.
  • You participate in an extreme sport (like skydiving or mountaineering) even though your policy doesn’t cover these (not all policies cover all types of activities).
  • You did not take out adventure cover before participating in a risky activity covered by the policy (e.g. bungee jumping, rafting, scuba diving), and your base cover does not cover these.
  • You decided to go on a cruise without including cover for cruising in your policy .

Remember that even if you have appropriate coverage, your insurer can deny your claim if you engaged in reckless behaviour.

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

Most travel insurance policies will only provide cover for unforeseen events. If there were any government warnings about an situation or there is a natural disaster or severe weather event occurring in a destination you plan to visit, your policy wouldn’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; once mass media covers an event, it’s assumed that you were aware of it when 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 these weather events, 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 for medical expenses and cancellations).
  • There is civil unrest due to local or national elections at or near one of your chosen destinations and you travel near these destinations despite government warnings and suffer a loss.
  • There’s a travel ban on your destination, and you decided to go anyway.

However, if you cancel your trip altogether after extreme weather, natural disasters or a pandemic occurred, some insurers may provide compensation for some of your losses.

Learn more about cover for natural disasters.

a young couple travelling looking at a map

5. Pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure you get a medical check-up well before your trip and take out a policy that allows you to declare pre-existing conditions to your insurer. Disclosing this information and having your insurer agree to cover it, means your insurer is prepared to help you finance urgent medical care for your condition should the worst happen while you’re overseas.

If you hide your pre-existing conditions by neglecting to tell your insurer, your insurer will likely refuse to pay any related claims or reduce the size of any payment made to you, even if you have a policy that covers the medical issue.

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

  • You forget to or intentionally don’t declare your pre-existing condition.
  • You didn’t get the appropriate level of cover for your pre-existing conditions.
  • You travelled against medical advice.

Keep in mind that this includes mental health conditions. Often, travel insurance providers won’t cover hospitalisation or medical assistance for these conditions.

6. Claims arising from carelessness

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

Furthermore, if you don’t report the crimes you’re claiming for 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. Doing this will give you a better chance of finding your items. It will also give insurers access to the relevant medical or police reports when assessing your claim.

Other examples of situations where your insurer may deny your claim include:

  • You left your luggage, personal belongings, credit cards or valuables unattended in a public place and they were stolen.
  • Your luggage was damaged when you collected it at your destination and you didn’t advise your airline of the damage for several days.
  • You changed your mind; for example, you decide to cancel your trip because you don’t want to go anymore or decided to go somewhere else.

a group of travellers enjoying an evening beach walk with sparklers

7. Incidents that arose from engaging in reckless behaviour

If you put yourself in danger, you risk 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 person’s life.

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

  • 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 capacity or without a helmet
  • You ignored the tour guide’s advice while you were partaking in a guided activity
  • You didn’t wear the appropriate and recommended safety gear for an activity.

8. Claims when you’ve already been compensated

You may only be compensated once for any incident. This means that you can only make a single claim per event (even if you have multiple travel insurance policies), and your claim will be rejected if any other company or service has reimbursed you.

Examples where your travel insurance claims won’t be approved due to prior compensation include:

  • You have already made more than one claim on a single incident through the same or separate travel insurance policies.
  • Interruptions to your travel plans that caused cancellations, delays or changes to bookings have already been compensated by your tour operator, airline or relevant company.
  • If your hospital expenses or medical treatment were covered by the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement shared between Australia and eleven other countries.

Woman at airport with trip delays

What else won’t travel insurance cover?

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

  • Your claim is the result of an incident involving war, invasion or revolution.
  • 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).
  • Your hotel or tour operator went broke.

*Force majeure events are those 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, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to get cover for pre-existing medical conditions if you’re already overseas, even if you’re willing to pay an additional price.

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.

backpackers jumping into a lake

How to 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, which will outline exactly what your policy covers with full details about what is and isn’t included. Make sure you read and completely understand all the terms and conditions before choosing to buy travel insurance and depart on your trip.

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

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 policy inclusions, prices and features all in one place!

Use our free travel insurance comparison tool to compare policies from a variety of insurers in Australia. Find out why it pays to compare travel insurance today!

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