Explore Travel Insurance

Asia is the largest continent on earth, full of diverse countries that offer delicious food, beautiful sights and unforgettable experiences. However, it’s not without its risks, which is why we recommend travel insurance for your trip there.

We’ll take you through:

  • Why you should consider travel insurance for Asia
  • What your policy could include
  • What travel insurance doesn’t cover
  • Our top tips for travelling around Asia

Do I need travel insurance to explore Asia?

Imagine you’re exploring an Asian city and you suddenly require medical attention, or a pickpocket steals your bag with your credit cards and passport inside. What do you do? Travel insurance can help you when things like this happen, and potentially save your trip from getting cut short.

Think of travel insurance as a financial safety net; depending on your circumstances, needs and budget, it’s something you purchase but, with any luck, won’t have to use. When you compare with us, you should read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for each policy before you decide to buy to understand exactly what you’re purchasing.

What should my travel insurance policy for Asia include?

Generally, you’ll have the choice between a single trip or an annual multi-trip travel policy. If you’re planning on backpacking across the Asian continent, a single trip policy would likely suit you best. Annual cover would better suit those planning on extensively exploring Asia over multiple trips.

Annual cover will typically cover several trips within a 12-month period, but all annual cover or multi-trip travel insurance policies have a maximum trip length that they will cover. Please note that cover varies between insurance providers and policies and it’s important to check what will be included by reading the PDS.

The extent and level of cover you’re entitled to will depend on whether you purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy or a policy with less inclusions or lower benefits limits. A few common things to consider for your travel insurance policy before your Asian getaway include:

Medical expenses

Getting sick or injured overseas can be disastrous for your health and holiday plans, and it can also hurt your bank balance. Unfortunately, Australia doesn’t have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with any Asian countries, so Medicare won’t foot the bill.

Thankfully, travel insurance with the right medical cover can help lessen the cost of medical treatment, hospital expenses and other medical costs, including medical evacuation or repatriation back to Australia if necessary. It can also provide 24/7 emergency assistance services to help you out if something goes wrong. The level of cover will depend on the insurance policy purchased.

Furthermore, Asia is home to some diseases which you need to protect yourself against:

  • Rabies
  • Insect-borne diseases like malaria and Zika virus
  • Avian influenza or ‘bird flu’.

Avoid close contact with animals and insect-infested bodies of water. You may also want to consider vaccinations; visit your GP at least eight weeks before departure to discuss your options.

Theft or loss of belongings

Petty theft occurs in most cities around the world, and tourists are prime targets for local criminals. That’s where travel insurance can save the day and cover your luggage and personal effects from theft (provided your bags aren’t left unattended). It can also protect your property from damage and loss.

Cancellations and delays

Missing a connecting flight due to a cancellation or delay can leave you with out-of-pocket expenses and throw your itinerary into disarray. Luckily, travel insurance can provide financial protection for cancellations or delays – up to a limit, depending on the level of cover purchased.

If your airline doesn’t reimburse you for your cancelled or delayed flights, travel insurance may. Or if you’ve booked a tour you can’t make because of cancelled or delayed flights, travel insurance can help cover additional travel and accommodation expenses. This cover varies among insurance providers and will depend on your trip policy.

Personal liability

If you are liable for injuring a person, causing their death or damaging their belongings, your legal fees or any damages paid could put a serious dent in your pocket. With travel insurance, however, you can be covered in cases where you are found personally liable; it’s advisable you do not admit liability or promise to make a payment before discussing the situation with your insurer.

Natural disasters

If you’re overseas when a natural disaster occurs in your destination country, your travel insurance may be able to cover you against storms, landslides, earthquakes and more. If you’re going to a country known for its volcanic eruptions, you may want to consider volcano and ash cloud cover.

While endemics and pandemics are often excluded from travel insurance policies, depending on your insurer, you may be able to purchase cover for COVID-19 (coronavirus) related losses.

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What doesn’t travel insurance cover?

Like other types of insurance, travel insurance policies have exclusions, limits and sub-limits. Things your travel cover generally won’t cover include:

  • Accidents or claims caused by drug or alcohol intoxication
  • Acting in a reckless, illegal or dangerous manner
  • Pre-existing medical conditions not covered by your policy (some may be covered)
  • Stolen or lost personal belongings that were left unattended
  • Travelling against government warnings (see Smartraveller for the latest updates)
  • Trip cancellations due to change of mind or incompetence (e.g. forgetting to renew your passport)

Get covered before you depart Australia

Things can go wrong during your trip and even before it. That’s why it’s useful to get international travel insurance as soon as you book your trip or make any deposits. A hotel could shut down, a flight could get cancelled or you could fall ill. Get covered appropriately for your travel plans, and don’t tempt fate.

How do I know if a country is safe or has a travel warning?

The Australian Government’s Smartraveller website contains the latest updates on travel warnings for countries in Asia and all around the world. If Smartraveller has an active ‘Do not travel’ warning in place for any of your destinations, any travel insurance claims made while in that country will be rejected.

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Top travel tips for exploring Asia

1. Follow the local laws and customs

Many Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, are strict on drug offences. Singapore also enforces penalties on things like spitting and littering. You should also take note of the varying legal drinking ages. For example, Cambodia’s legal drinking age is 21, while China’s is 18.

Want to be extra polite? Familiarise yourself with the local customs of each country. For example, in Japan, it’s considered rude to wear shoes inside.

2. Will you be driving in Asia?

If you plan on hiring a vehicle, we recommend adding car hire or motorcycle and scooter cover to your policy. You should also check the local licence requirements. For example, to drive in Indonesia you either need an Indonesian licence or an International Driving Permit (IDP).

3. Do you need extra cover for adventure activities?

Asia is a place bursting with adventures just waiting to be experienced. From taking a kayak tour through Si Phan Don in Laos to trekking through the jungle in Hong Kong, there are endless things to try. However, adventure sports are usually not covered in a typical policy.

Luckily, you can add cover for adventure sports to your standard travel insurance policy.

Many places in Southeast Asia, such as Japan, Korea and China, are known for having thrilling ski resorts. If hitting the slopes is in your itinerary, you’ll need to consider purchasing a winter sports add-on for coverage on all of your snow-related activities.

Check the PDS or policy to better understand these options.

4. Check your passport and visa requirements

Australians can stay in some Asian countries for up to 30 days visa-free, while other countries have different immigration rules. For example, you’ll typically need a visa to travel to China. We recommend visiting Smartraveller or the embassy websites of the countries you’re visiting to check their specific visa requirements.

Also, ensure your passport is valid – with at least six months validity remaining – when entering a country. Otherwise, you may be refused entry.

Specific destination pages for Asia

Are you travelling to one, two or several Asian destinations? Go deeper with our dedicated travel pages.

Adrian Taylor, Executive General Manager

Top tips for travel insurance in Asia from our expert, Adrian Taylor

  • Don’t leave your luggage or belongings unattended in a public place, as any theft claims may not be accepted. All policies have limits, conditions and exclusions; understanding these is key in ensuring you have the cover you need.
  • Get ready to bargain – it’s expected in most countries, and you can get the most out of your spending money by haggling the price down. Be careful when exchanging currency at airports and hotels, as the exchange rates are usually better at banks. You can also save money and add variety by travelling by trains, ferries or buses instead of flying.
  • To maximise the value of your travel insurance, purchase your policy as soon as you make a booking and pay any deposits to ensure you have immediate cancellation cover should you need to cancel your trip.
  • Plan your trip carefully, do your research and, where possible, avoid the crowds and potentially save by avoiding peak tourism periods. Search for discounted flights and lock in the best deals. Ensure you understand the visa, vaccination and COVID-19 requirements for the countries you’re visiting before departure.
  • Consider the travel insurance coverage you need for medical expenses, cancellation fees and luggage. You may need additional cover for cruises, ski holidays and rental vehicle hire excess, so buy a policy that suits your holiday needs.

Get your Asian getaway covered today!

Looking for travel insurance to protect you on your Asian odyssey? Our free online comparison tool can help you compare travel insurance plans from leading Australian brands side-by-side, and look for insurance quotes appropriate for your travel plans.

You can review your level of cover, policy benefits and excess amount to compare policies in just minutes!

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