Annual travel insurance (also known as multi-trip travel insurance, annual multi-trip travel insurance, or frequent traveller insurance) can help you save time and money by covering you for unlimited trips within 12 months.
If you’re a self-confessed jetsetter, leisure traveller or someone who just loves to travel on a whim, annual travel insurance can provide you peace of mind for multiple trips each year.
Why is annual travel insurance beneficial?
Annual travel insurance can offer automatic coverage for any number of trips (international or domestic, depending on the policy) all year round. That means you could choose to travel once, or take a trip every month and be covered under the same policy for those trips.
Such policies can be more convenient (and cost-effective) than a single trip travel insurance if you travel a lot throughout the year, as you don’t organise, a new policy each time you hop on a plane. This allows you to fast-forward to the exciting part of your trip!
How does annual travel insurance work?
There are two types of annual travel insurance, these include:
- Domestic policies. These policies only offer coverage for travel within Australia. For insurance to take effect, you may need to travel a minimum distance from your home (for example, 50 or 250 kilometres, depending on the policy). Domestic policies usually cover delay and cancellation costs, lost or damaged belongings, rental car excess and more, but exclude emergency medical and hospital expenses.
- International policies. These policies can provide cover for either worldwide travel or to countries in certain regions. Most international policies provide comprehensive coverage and can include unlimited cover for emergency medical expenses.
As travel insurance policies vary from insurer to insurer remember to always read your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to know exactly how and what you’re covered for.
Most annual travel insurance policies stipulate a maximum duration for each trip. These time limits can range from 20 to 90 days. This means that between trips, you need to return home to maintain coverage. For example, if your policy has a maximum trip duration of 90 days and you had organised a four-month trip, you would need to return home before those 90 days elapsed for the policy to cover any losses incurred during your four-month trip.
It’s also important to note that you can’t purchase annual travel insurance while overseas; you must be in Australia when your Certificate of Insurance is issued.
What’s the difference between annual travel insurance and a single trip policy?
While annual travel insurance and single trip policies are very similar in coverage, there are some differences worth noting. As mentioned, annual travel insurance covers you for multiple trips in one year. By contrast, a single trip policy only covers one trip. You can also visit multiple destinations on a single trip policy, but your cover will end when you return to Australia.
Another key difference is that annual travel insurance typically covers multiple trips in one year of up to 90-days duration. Single trip policies, on the other hand, cover just one trip that could be as short as two days, or as long as 12 months or more.
Do I need annual travel insurance?
If you’re a frequent traveller or at least travel more than once a year, annual travel insurance can be more cost-effective than single trip policies. That’s because you could pay lower premiums in total on an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy than you would if you took out separate policies for all your trips.
One of the biggest advantages of annual travel insurance is that it provides consistent coverage for your travels all year round. You get the same financial protection for every trip you take as long as you return within your policy’s prescribed time limit.
What should an annual travel insurance policy include?
Annual travel insurance generally offers the same levels of protection as single policies, including cover for:
- overseas medical and hospital expenses
- trip cancellation, amendment and delay costs
- lost, damaged or stolen luggage and personal belongings
- theft of cash
- additional expenses
- rental car excess
- legal liability
- permanent disability and loss of income
- accidental death
- 24-7 emergency assistance.
As with any insurance policy, it’s important you carefully check your PDS for any inclusions or exclusions, and carefully compare annual travel insurance policies to find suitable cover.
Annual travel insurance: Exclusions and what to watch out for
Just like single trip policies, annual travel insurance comes with general exclusions and doesn’t typically cover:
- pre-existing medical conditions (although some providers may cover certain conditions or include cover as an optional extra)
- travelling against government advice or warning (these are listed on Smartraveller)
- negligence leading to loss of personal property and valuables
- extreme or dangerous activities
- drug or alcohol-related claims
- loss or injuries from unlawful activities
- loss or injuries from unapproved pre-existing conditions
- acts of war, terrorism or civil unrest.
Furthermore, you might find that there are some exclusions that apply to people over certain ages (e.g. 65). That doesn’t mean you can’t get cover if you’re over these ages, though, but there may be limited benefits or inclusions. Read more about travel insurance for over-50s and seniors.
Depending on your level of cover, annual travel insurance may not cover certain activities like winter sports including skiing, snowmobiling and snowboarding. These activities are considered high-risk and can only be covered by paying an extra premium. Even so, you may still be subject to certain conditions. For more information, please read about adventure travel insurance.
Similarly, if you’re cruising, you may require cruise insurance to cover specific scenarios, such as being confined to a cabin or requiring a medical evacuation from the ship to the nearest hospital.
Four top tips for annual travel
1. Check your passport and visa requirements
Before you book your next travels, check your passport’s expiry date and make sure it’s in good condition. Standard wear and tear should not affect your passport’s usability, but you could be barred from travelling overseas or entering a country if it’s faulty or seriously damaged.1
You may also want to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from your departure date. Many countries don’t allow travellers in with passports that have less than six months’ validity beyond their planned stay.2
2. Pick a suitable credit card for your trip
It’s all too easy to rely on your credit card for your everyday expenses as you travel or as a backup in case of emergency – until you realise international transactions fees are eroding your travel funds.
You can incur these pesky fees anytime you buy something overseas or withdraw foreign currency, and they can add up quickly. Consider this: the average international transaction fee for purchases in America is three per cent. That means you could pay three dollars in fees for every $100 you spend or $30 for every $1,000.3
As such, it’s worth shopping around for a credit or travel card that offers low or no international transaction fees. Lastly, don’t forget to notify your bank that you’re heading overseas so your card doesn’t get blocked when overseas transactions are detected.
3. Check for travel updates and advice from the Australian government
You may be a seasoned traveller and have annual travel insurance that covers you for a range of unexpected scenarios, but you can always benefit from extra protection.
It’s a good idea to regularly check Smartraveller’s travel advice for your destination/s in the time leading up to your departure. That way, you won’t be caught unaware if the international situation suddenly changes. You can also subscribe to Smartraveller’s free email service to receive travel advice, alerts and the latest updates on your destination(s).
Some travel insurance providers also refuse to cover journeys to countries with a ‘reconsider your need to travel’ or ‘do not travel’ warning from Smartraveller. As well as checking the travel advice for your destination, you should also check which warnings will exclude you from cover in your policy’s PDS.
4. Sign up to a Frequent Flyer program
Frequent Flyer programs are loyalty programs offered by most airlines which reward travellers for using a particular airline. They offer points or Frequent Flyer miles anytime you travel, which can be redeemed for discounted flights and other rewards.
So, if you travel regularly or plan to travel more in the future, a Frequent Flyer card could reward you with seat upgrades, priority check-in and boarding, access to VIP lounges and maybe even a free flight!
Compare annual travel insurance
Looking for annual travel insurance that will protect you all year round? Our free comparison tool can help you compare a range of policy options based on your preferred level of cover, policy benefits and excess amount in just minutes!