Travel Insurance FAQs

Answers when you need them

Have a question about travel cover for your next domestic or international holiday? Relax; Sergei is on the case!

Travel Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

Applying

Can I get travel insurance when pregnant?

Yes, you can get travel insurance when pregnant – to cover medical expenses for issues related to a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy while travelling. That said, most travel insurers will have restrictions or exclusions in their policies, and will only cover pregnancy up to a certain number of weeks; commonly

  • 24 or 26 weeks with a multiple child pregnancy, or
  • 32 weeks with a single child pregnancy.

Some insurers may require a note from your doctor to confirm you are safe enough to travel in order to be covered. However, there are some common reasons that you may not be able to get travel insurance while pregnant.

For example, you generally won’t be covered if:

  • It’s an assisted reproductive pregnancy (IVF)
  • You need to claim expenses for the actual childbirth or health care of the newborn while you’re travelling. However, some insurers may cover emergency childbirth in your policy (if the baby comes early, up to the maximum weeks listed)
  • There are complications with the pregnancy at the time of booking your trip or purchasing travel insurance
  • You have pregnancy complications after the maximum number of weeks permitted in your policy
  • Your doctor has advised you not to travel
  • You’re planning to travel after the maximum weeks of pregnancy stated on your policy (usually beyond the third trimester)
  • You’ve had a pre-existing condition or previous pregnancy complications

Once you have travel insurance, you may be covered for trip cancellations and other expenses due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, although any issues must be confirmed by a qualified medical practitioner. It’s highly recommended you check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or call up your insurer to determine your travel insurance cover when pregnant. Find out more about how pregnancy affects your travel insurance.

When is it too late to buy travel insurance?

It is too late to buy travel insurance once you’ve already been injured, suffered a loss or mishap, after the plane is cancelled, or after a natural disaster has already struck.

For example, if you book your holiday to Bali and a volcano erupts or is about to erupt, you can get travel insurance at this time but you may only get luggage cover, and you won’t be covered for changing flights, accommodation or any disruption - as it’s too late.

With a majority of insurers, it may be too late to buy travel insurance once you depart Australia, although some may allow you to take out cover when you’re overseas – albeit with a potential time-excess and more exclusions.

It’s always best to book your travel insurance well in advance so you will be covered for cancellations and delays as well as other things that may affect your trip, and check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand your cover and any exclusions.

What should I look for when buying travel insurance?

You should look for travel insurance that offers a breadth of cover suitable to your circumstances while keeping an eye out for policy limits and exclusions that may affect you.

Some other features you should look for:

  • Medical cover. Claiming on medical expenses and accommodation is the main reason people buy travel insurance, as falling ill or sustaining an injury overseas without appropriate cover can be expensive.
  • Cancellation & delay cover. In case you can’t travel or your trip or flights are disrupted, which can also include cover for changing flights or temporary accommodation if needed.
  • Luggage and personal effects cover. If your luggage is damaged by baggage handlers, or if your luggage or personal items are stolen, you’ll need a suitable level of cover for the worth of your personal items (policy limits may apply here).
  • Suitable cover for your destination. Getting suitable cover depends on your needs and where you’re going. For example, if you’re heading to the snow, make sure your policy covers you for skiing and snowboarding. Or, if you’re departing on a cruise, take out cruise travel insurance
  • Terms and conditions. Always ensure you read your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement thoroughly so you understand exactly what you’re covered for, and are aware of any exclusions.

Buying travel insurance through a reputable company is important when looking for cover. The good news? You can compare travel insurance from a range of trustworthy providers with us.

How long does it take to get travel insurance?

It only takes around five minutes to complete a travel insurance quote through comparethemarket.com.au. You can usually get travel insurance instantaneously and be ready to go, provided there are no special requirements like pre-existing conditions that may need to be approved by the insurer. You could even get travel insurance on your way to the airport, although it’s better to get it earlier so you may be covered for cancellations and delays.

Although it doesn’t take long to acquire travel insurance, make sure you take the time to understand your level of coverage by reading your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). Your PDS will list all exclusions, how much your claim excess is and how much you are covered for (if there are any dollar limits for claims). It is important to make sure the product you choose provides the cover you need for your personal circumstances.

Can I have two travel insurance policies?

Yes, you can have two separate travel insurance policies, although if something were to happen you can’t claim twice for the same incident on two different policies. This means you won’t be in a better position than if you had one suitable level of cover.

It’s worth noting that if you already have travel insurance through your credit card, this cover may be limited. However, if you do take out another policy at the same time to have a broader level of cover, and make a claim through this separate travel insurer, they may divide the costs of the claim between them and your credit card travel insurance.

Rather than pay for two policies, why not compare travel insurance policies from a range of providers to find one comprehensive policy that gives you all the cover you need?

Can I buy travel insurance from another country?

Most travel insurance providers require travellers to purchase insurance prior to leaving Australia. You can get travel insurance when you are already overseas, but not all providers will offer it, or there may be exclusions.

When looking to buy travel insurance from another country, you’ll want to find cover that’s listed as “already overseas” or “already abroad”. Most of these travel insurance policies will have a time excess or exclusion period, particularly for medical related losses. For example, there may be a 72-hour exclusion period where you won’t be covered if you have an accident within 72 hours after you’ve taken out the cover, or you may also need to pay a higher excess if you’ve taken out travel insurance from another country.

Remember, the next time you’re planning a trip to another country, you may be able to find travel insurance when you are abroad, but it’s best to compare travel insurance well in advance of landing in your destination. This way, you can be covered for cancellations and delays before you leave, and much more while you’re overseas.

Basics

Travel insurance only covers me when I’m on holidays, right?

No, your travel insurance doesn’t just cover you when you’re on holidays. Depending on your policy, you can be covered for cancellation of your trip before your trip starts; however this will only be covered due to unforeseen circumstances outside of your control (e.g. falling ill, getting a medical certificate and not being able to go), and it won’t cover your flight being cancelled, missing your flight, or changing your mind.

Your travel insurance then starts to cover other benefits from the time you leave your home to go on your trip, until you return home from your holiday. For example, if you’re catching a cab to the airport for your flight and the taxi crashes, you should be covered for any injuries, damage to your items, and to cancel and re-book another flight (if cancellation is included in your policy; usually found in comprehensive cover).

Read your Product Disclose Statement (PDS) to understand what you’re covered for and exactly when your travel insurance cover begins. Even if you’re on your way to the airport to embark on your trip, it’s not too late to compare travel insurance and find a policy to cover you on your holiday.

Is travel insurance worth it for domestic flights?

Yes, travel insurance can be worthwhile for domestic flights. Even though domestic flights aren’t as long, and trips around the country don’t seem as risky, domestic travel insurance can still be an affordable precaution to have.

Depending on your policy, domestic travel insurance can cover or reimburse you if:

  • Your luggage is lost or damaged in transit.
  • Your luggage / personal items (like a phone or wallet) are damaged, lost, or stolen in the city or town you’re travelling to.
  • Your flight is cancelled or delayed (beyond your control), which can affect your accommodation and any pre-booked events; flow-on costs can add up!
  • You’ve had an accident in your hire car and need to pay an excess on your rental vehicle insurance (comprehensive travel insurance can cover the hire car excess amount).
  • You’re sick or have an accident and need emergency medical transport (i.e. ambulance) in another state where you may not be covered.

Learn more about domestic travel insurance for peace of mind on your next trip within Australia.

Should I get travel insurance for a cruise?

Yes, you should consider taking out travel insurance for a cruise, because a lot can go wrong before your departure and during your time at sea. Depending on what your travel insurance policy includes, you could be covered or reimbursed for some of the costs if:

  • You can’t go on the cruise and need to cancel or have to pull out of any planned on-cruise activities due to sickness or injury.
  • You get sick on board and need medical attention.
  • Your luggage gets stolen onboard or you accidentally drop something like your bag, phone or wallet into the ocean.
  • You get injured on board (e.g. slip by the pool and hurt your foot).
  • You hurt yourself during an activity like jet-skiing or snorkelling.
  • You have to evacuate the ship for some reason.

However, you might not be covered for injuries or dropping something overboard if you’re under the influence of alcohol. Generally, you also won’t be covered for not enjoying your cruise due to bad weather or rainy days, certain pre-existing conditions or adventure activities, cruise company insolvency (going bankrupt), or cruise cancellation where your cruise carrier organises reimbursement or re-books you for another trip.

It’s also important to remember that even if you’re going on a domestic cruise in Australian waters (say a cruise from Sydney to Norfolk Island), you may need an international travel insurance policy. This is because most foreign cruising boats don’t accept Medicare, as there may be an international doctor on board that isn’t covered by Medicare, and therefore won’t be covered by domestic travel insurance.

Learn more about cruise travel insurance for your next sea adventure.

Why is travel insurance important?

Travel insurance is important for the peace of mind that while you’re on holiday or travelling, you’re covered for financial loss if something unfortunate happens.

Depending on what type of policy you take out, it can cover you for:

  1. Emergency medical assistance and expenses. This can save you from financial ruin, especially if you have an injury or health scare in a country like the USA, where overnight hospital costs are particularly expensive.
  2. Cancellation fees and additional expenses. If your flights are cancelled (e.g. due to bad weather), it can cause a flow-on effect on your planned accommodation, transport, and any other events you have booked in advance.
  3. Personal liability. If you accidentally cause the injury or death of another person on your trip, or accidentally damage or destroy someone else’s personal property (or public property), your travel insurance can take care of some of the costs.
  4. Loss, theft, or damage of luggage/baggage. It’s bad enough having your luggage stolen or damaged on holiday, let alone having to replace those items without having any cover. Travel insurance makes sure this process is as painless as possible by covering some of the costs.

Comprehensive travel insurance can also cover you for a range of other things that might occur on your trip. Find out more about why you need travel insurance.

 

What is comprehensive travel insurance?

A comprehensive travel insurance policy is generally a policy that covers a broad range of events but will have reasonable limits to cover certain losses. You may find that comprehensive policies have roughly the same excess and amount of cover for overseas emergency medical assistance and hospital expenses as a mid-range or basic policy.

However, the main difference is that a comprehensive policy will cover cancellation fees (e.g. lost deposits and cancellation fees for travel arrangements and plans), and will also have a higher amount of cover for:

  • additional expenses (e.g. emergency accommodation when you’re stranded somewhere);
  • personal liability (covers costs if, due to your negligence, you cause damage or destroy another property that isn’t owned or controlled by you, a family member or someone in your travel party, or are liable for causing injury to someone else who isn’t family or part of your travelling party, e.g. if you accidentally hit someone with a hire car and injure them it should cover your liability for their medical costs);
  • luggage/baggage and personal effects (replacement or repair costs if they’re mishandled, damaged, lost, or stolen – may not be covered if it’s happened while your luggage was unattended).

Comprehensive travel insurance policies may also include limited cover for:

Accidental deathAlternative transport expensesCutting your trip short
Delayed luggage at the airportDental expenses (if there’s an accident)Hijack
Hospital cash allowanceLoss of incomePermanent disability
Pet careRental vehicle excess coverResumption of journey
Theft of cashTravel delay expensesTravel documents, credit cards and traveller's cheques

While not all comprehensive policies will cover those mentioned above, these policies typically provide a broader level of cover. Check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to see what benefits are covered in your policy, or compare comprehensive travel insurance for peace of mind on your next trip.

What is a travel insurance excess?

An excess is the amount of money you will have to contribute towards any loss that results in a claim on your travel insurance policy. Your excess is normally deducted from the settlement amount. For example, say you lose your luggage which is worth $500 and your excess is $100; if the claim is accepted, your insurer will reimburse you the balance of $400 (or up to the limit of your policy’s benefit) after you’ve contributed the $100 excess from your payout.

Even if you get seriously injured on holiday and accumulate expensive hospital bills, you will only need to contribute your excess as specified on your travel insurance policy. However, if you lose something that’s worth only $50, and your policy excess is $100, the claim won’t be paid as your loss is less than the policy excess.

You can elect to have a higher travel insurance excess to lower your premium, however, this means you will contribute more to any loss when you want to make a claim.

Refer to your travel insurance policy disclosure statement (PDS) or certificate of insurance issued by the insurer to determine how much your excess is. Learn more about travel insurance excess and make sure you keep in mind the excess amount when comparing travel insurance for your next holiday

Is it illegal to travel without travel insurance?

No, it generally isn’t illegal to travel without travel insurance, unless you’re travelling to particular countries (sometimes for over a particular number of days) or travelling as part of a group tour (e.g. Contiki Tours) where it may be a requirement.

Currently, you will need a valid travel insurance policy to enter:

  • Antarctica. Due to extreme conditions, cruise packages to Antarctica include compulsory travel cover for medical evacuation and weather cancellation.
  • Cuba. Travel insurance must cover medical costs.
  • Schengen countries (central Europe). Although Australian and New Zealand travellers are granted an automatic 90-day visa upon entry to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen zone, travel insurance is still a requirement.
  • Turkey. If you’re applying for a Turkish visa, you will be required to have valid medical insurance (included under standard travel insurance policy) during your stay.
  • UAE (United Arab Emirates). Travellers from Australia and New Zealand will be granted a 30-day visa upon arrival to countries like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. However, it’s still required to have travel insurance which covers health and medical costs.

When visiting these countries, it’s important to keep your travel insurance documents handy, especially at airport customs.

If you’re going on a group tour, some tour providers may have a compulsory requirement to get travel insurance, while others will recommend having travel insurance with medical, luggage and cancellation cover. Cruise companies may also require you to purchase international travel insurance for cruising (even if you’re travelling domestically) as there may be a doctor from abroad on board who won’t be covered by Medicare.

While not illegal or compulsory, it’s highly recommended you compare travel insurance for certain countries where it’s common to experience a scam, mishap, theft, physical accident, or high hospital costs; for example, it’s a good idea to get travel insurance for the United States of America where healthcare and hospital costs are some of the highest in the world. Also, Thai tourism officials are trying to make travel insurance for Thailand compulsory for travellers, as claims are commonly made for food poisoning, cuts to skin (from the beach), scooter accidents and more.

Does my credit card cover travel insurance?

Some credit cards will include basic travel insurance cover as a complimentary extra, but not all do. Although, if your credit card does include travel insurance, the cover might be limited and not as comprehensive as getting a separate travel insurance policy. Also, some financial institutions and providers may require you to use your credit card to pay for part or all of your trip or flights in order to activate your travel insurance cover, and might only cover you for a trip (or part of the trip) that you paid for on your credit card.

You may find there are common exclusions and restrictions to your credit card travel insurance policy. For example, it may restrict cancellation cover, exclude death cover, or not insure trips for longer than a particular duration. It’s important you check your credit card’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to make sure you’re covered for everything you need to be (e.g. baggage loss or theft, medical expenses, cancelled flights). If you aren’t, compare travel insurance policies on Compare the Market.

Does family travel insurance cover individuals?

Yes, family travel insurance does include cover for individuals. Just because it’s a family travel insurance policy, that doesn’t mean you are only covered for claims relating to the whole family! Family travel insurance policies work similarly to singles policies, but will usually have higher claim limits to cover more travellers.

For example, if one member of the family gets sick or injured, has something stolen, or loses their bag while travelling, they will be covered under the family policy. Although, it is important to check the terms and conditions of cover and any exclusions that may apply, which can be found in your Policy Disclosure Statement (PDS).

Also, if your kids are under 21 and don’t work full time, your insurer will probably cover them under your policy at no extra cost (some insurers extend this to dependents up to 25 years of age). Most travel insurance policies cover families of three kids (under 21 or 25) travelling with two adults at no extra cost. However, if anyone in the travel party travels alone for part of the journey they’ll need their own policy.

Learn more about family travel insurance or compare travel insurance for your next family holiday.

Managing your policy

When does travel insurance start?

If your travel insurance policy covers cancellations, it will start to cover cancellation from the day you purchase the policy. Some policies cover cancellation of your trip before it starts, but this will only be covered in unforeseen circumstances outside of your control (e.g. falling ill); however it won’t cover your flight being cancelled, missing your flight, or changing your mind.

Your travel insurance usually starts to cover other benefits from the time you leave your home to begin your trip. For example, if you’re catching a cab to the airport for your flight and the taxi crashes, you are generally covered for any injuries, damage to your items, and to cancel and re-book another flight.

During the cooling off period (normally 14 days after purchasing travel insurance), you can cancel your policy for a full refund unless your trip has already commenced. If you cancel your policy after the cooling off period ends, you may not be eligible for a refund or may only receive a partial refund.

Check your Product Disclose Statement (PDS) for further details on what you’re covered for and exactly when your travel insurance kicks in. Even if you’re on your way to the airport, it’s still not too late to compare travel insurance and find a policy that covers you.

Can I cancel travel insurance?

Yes, you can cancel your travel insurance at any time; however, depending on when you cancel, you may not be reimbursed. There is normally a 14 day cooling off period after the day you purchased your travel insurance, where you can cancel and get a full refund, as long as your trip or policy hasn’t begun.

It’s difficult to get full reimbursement after that cooling off period or after your trip has already commenced. This is because your travel insurance covers cancellation risks from the day you purchase your policy. So if you’re three weeks into your cover but haven’t yet departed on your trip, your insurer has still provided cover for cancellation for those three weeks. After three weeks of being covered, you will be outside of the standard 14 day cooling off period to get a refund. However, depending on your insurer and the reason you’ve cancelled your travel insurance (i.e. cancelled trip because of sickness), you may still get a partial reimbursement if you cancel after the 14 days.

Refer to your policy disclosure statement (PDS) for information regarding cancellation. If you do want to cancel your travel insurance, contact your insurer as soon as possible.

How do I claim travel insurance?

If you want to claim on your travel insurance, the first thing you should do is submit a report to the proper authorities (i.e. local police for theft) when the incident occurs. To validate your travel insurance claim, you may need to provide medical receipts, or a report from the airport, police, or proper authorities.

The next thing you should do is contact your insurer. It is recommended you get in touch as soon as possible (i.e. while you’re still on holiday) and tell them about the incident, as they can guide you on what you’ll need for your claim and direct you to medical facilities or local embassies if needed. Your policy documents or your Policy Disclosure Statement (PDS) should have a contact number, hours of operation, and details on how to make a claim. It’s important that you’re prepared on your trip by knowing how to contact your insurer and what times you can contact them (by keeping this contact number on hand, either stored on your phone or written down and kept safe with your travel documents).

Lastly, you’ll need to submit your claim which can either be done while you’re on your trip or when you get back home. This will involve compiling any relevant reports or documentation which you should be able to submit by post, fax, email, or online (depending on your insurer). Keep in mind, you will need to pay an excess when making a travel insurance claim (the amount will differ per policy). For example, if your $350 pair of sunglasses is stolen on your trip and your excess is $100, you will have to contribute the $100 excess from your settlement payout, after which your insurer will reimburse you the balance of $250 for the glasses. The same goes for medical expenses and whatever else is covered on your policy.

Your claim shouldn’t take long to process, but that will depend on how complicated it is, and what is stipulated on your PDS. After you’ve submitted your claim, your insurer should contact you periodically to keep you updated on its progress. Learn more about how to claim on your travel insurance.

Pre-existing conditions

Which is the best travel insurance to buy for pre-existing medical conditions?

Depending on your condition, it’s best to conduct your own research by reading the Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) from a wide range of insurers.

Some policies may cover all or a limited number of pre-existing conditions, which are generally based on the condition being stable and not needing medical attention or hospital treatment in the last one or two years with no planned treatment or surgery in the future.

If you have an extreme pre-existing medical condition (like a history of heart problems, stroke, diabetes etc.), you may be subjected to higher travel insurance premiums, additional terms and conditions, and a medical assessment, where your insurer needs to approve your cover for overseas emergency medical and hospital services relating to your condition. Expenses related to some pre-existing conditions - like terminal illness, cancer, requiring oxygen, chronic lung disease, and heart failure - are not covered by most travel insurers.

Read more about travel insurance for pre-existing conditions, including the types of medical conditions that generally are covered or aren’t covered.

Can I get travel insurance with terminal cancer?

Yes, you can still get travel insurance if you have terminal cancer, which will cover your luggage or trip disruption that results in additional expenses, however, cover for medical expenses and cancellation may be limited. If your cover is limited and no medical cover is provided, claims for medical assistance that are directly connected to your terminal cancer might not be covered.

Most insurers usually won’t cover medical expenses for chronic conditions, some terminal illnesses, chronic lung disease, and certain types of cancer, but you can still get cover for other common losses.

As always, it is best to refer to your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for more information. Read more about travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions.

Can I get travel insurance with a heart condition?

Yes, you can get travel insurance if you have a heart condition. However, travel insurance that covers pre-existing conditions, like a heart condition, may attract more expensive premiums (as it’s more of a risk) and there may be specific limits, restrictions or other terms and conditions. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may need to go through a special medical assessment process for cover to be confirmed.

If your insurer accepts your condition, your policy should cover the expenses of overseas emergency medical and hospital services that may be a result of your pre-existing condition (your Product Disclosure Statement will show the extent you’re covered for), on top of whatever else your policy covers (i.e. cancellations, luggage etc.). However, you may still have limited or conditional travel cover for adventure activities like skydiving and snorkelling.

A heart condition may be considered a travel insurance exclusion if your insurer doesn’t know about it. For example, if you neglect to tell them about the condition or try to hide it, you won’t be able to claim on medical expenses if you fall ill and they find out about your medical history.

Find out more about how pre-existing medical conditions affect travel insurance.

What's covered?

Travel insurance only covers me when I’m on holidays, right?

No, your travel insurance doesn’t just cover you when you’re on holidays. Depending on your policy, you can be covered for cancellation of your trip before your trip starts; however this will only be covered due to unforeseen circumstances outside of your control (e.g. falling ill, getting a medical certificate and not being able to go), and it won’t cover your flight being cancelled, missing your flight, or changing your mind.

Your travel insurance then starts to cover other benefits from the time you leave your home to go on your trip, until you return home from your holiday. For example, if you’re catching a cab to the airport for your flight and the taxi crashes, you should be covered for any injuries, damage to your items, and to cancel and re-book another flight (if cancellation is included in your policy; usually found in comprehensive cover).

Read your Product Disclose Statement (PDS) to understand what you’re covered for and exactly when your travel insurance cover begins. Even if you’re on your way to the airport to embark on your trip, it’s not too late to compare travel insurance and find a policy to cover you on your holiday.

Does travel insurance cover scuba diving?

Yes, depending on your policy, you can be covered for scuba diving on your holiday.

While not common, some travel insurance policies (usually comprehensive policies) may cover expenses related to scuba diving as standard (e.g. if you get injured and need medical attention). However, other insurers may have an optional extra to add on the adventure sports package to your cover, which will increase your premium but will cover you for sports like scuba diving, water skiing, snorkelling, jet-skiing and more.

Like most travel insurance policies, there may be restrictions or exclusions that could stop you from claiming. For example, most cover for scuba diving will be restricted to depths no greater than 30 metres. Also, there may be an exclusion that you can’t go scuba diving without a proper license; insurers will demand that the diving policyholder holds an open water diving license that is recognised in Australia, or they are diving with an instructor who is licensed in order to be covered.

Also, you may not be covered for scuba diving or any other adventure sports if you have a pre-existing condition; it’s best to check this with your insurer.

If you’re planning on having an active holiday, make sure you compare adventure travel insurance policies, and check your product disclosure statement (PDS) to make sure you’re covered for any claims regarding scuba diving.

Does travel insurance cover rental car damage?

Travel insurance can cover the excess that you’ll have to pay to the car hire company for any damage that happens while the rental car is in your possession.

This feature is usually only found under comprehensive travel insurance policies (some include it as standard, others have it as optional cover for a higher premium). However, there may still be limits on the amount you’re covered for car hire excess (e.g. only covered up to $3,000 or $5,000), which will be stated in your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

Your rental car excess may not be covered by your insurer if you’ve done any of the following:

  • breached any car rental agreement;
  • driven in prohibited areas and/or at prohibited
  • driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • refuelled your hire car with the wrong fuel type (e.g. diesel in a petrol car); or
  • disobeyed the road rules, or any other laws.

Also, if you want to claim on your travel insurance to cover the excess for rental car damage, you will be required to pay the rental car company excess first, after which you can submit a claim to your insurer before it’s assessed and you’re reimbursed.

Read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to make sure your travel insurance covers you for the excess for car rental damage, and to know how much you are covered for if your rental car is damaged or you’re in a collision. If you’re planning on hiring a rental car on your next trip, learn more about car hire excess cover.

Does travel insurance cover missed connecting flights?

Some travel insurance policies may cover missed connecting flights if it’s due to a specific event found on the policy (e.g. a natural disaster). This feature is usually only found in comprehensive policies, which can have limited cover for travel delay expenses, resumption of the journey, delayed luggage allowance, as well as cover for cancellation and amendment fees.

If your policy does cover you for missing a connecting flight, it may also cover the flow-on effects, such as covering the costs of a new flight, necessary temporary accommodation, or sometimes even the cost of missing an event that you were travelling for (like a concert).

You are not covered, however, just because you turned up late to the airport and missed the flight.

If the airline puts you on another flight or organises accommodation while waiting for another flight, your insurer may not pay out any claims to you – as the costs are already being reimbursed to you by the airline company.

Does travel insurance cover medical expenses?

Yes, travel insurance does cover medical expenses if you fall ill or are injured on your trip. Comprehensive travel insurance policies will usually include unlimited cover for overseas emergency medical assistance (to see a doctor) and overseas hospital expenses, as well as (possibly) a limited cash allowance for each day you’re in a hospital to cover expenses. Basic travel insurance policies will also cover medical expenses (up to a substantial limit), but may not offer a cash allowance.

This is crucial cover while you travel, but you should be mindful of a few things:

  • Exclusions. Travel insurance policies may list exclusions that prevent you from claiming. For example, treatment for self-harm and attempted suicide may not be covered, it won’t cover a private hospital room, or any non-immediate, non-medically necessary treatments.
  • Pre-existing conditions. If you had poor health at the time of travelling, conditions arising from this may be precluded from any claims you make. If you disclaim your health status to your insurer before you get covered, they may still cover you.
  • Domestic cover. While travel insurance policies cover your medical expenses while overseas, it won’t if you’re travelling within Australia, as this is covered by Medicare.

Overseas medical expenses can be costly without travel insurance (especially hospital accommodation in certain countries like the USA), which is why it’s best to read your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement to make sure you’re covered for the unexpected. If you aren't covered for medical expenses, compare travel insurance policies with Compare the Market.

Does travel insurance cover death abroad?

Yes, travel insurance can cover death abroad, but this will depend on the policy and manner of death. As long as the claim is covered, a comprehensive policy will cover the costs to bring the deceased back home, as well as (potentially) flying a family member over to bring the deceased home. If the death is accidental, any associated costs (up to a certain limit) can be covered by a comprehensive travel insurance policy.

Travel insurance may not cover death abroad if the insured person has terminal cancer or a pre-existing condition and dies from an ‘anticipated event’. Also, travel insurance will usually have exclusions for alcohol or drug-related deaths.

No matter how safe your trip might be, you never know what could happen, which is why it’s important to get travel insurance that covers you in most scenarios.

Does travel insurance cover car hire excess?

Yes, travel insurance policies can cover rental vehicle excess (i.e. the amount owed to the rental company if your vehicle is damaged or stolen). This feature is usually only found as standard in comprehensive policies; however, some insurers might only offer it as an extra (at an additional cost).

Some policies will specify a limited amount that you’re covered for (e.g. $2,000, $6,000). If the excess exceeds this limit, you’ll have to pay the rest yourself. Not only that, you’ll have to pay the rental car company excess up front, and then submit a claim to your travel insurer.

Furthermore, some insurers will not cover your excess if you’re in breach of your rental agreement, for example:

  • you disobeyed the law or the road rules;
  • you drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • you used the incorrect fuel type in the rental car; or
  • you drove in prohibited areas or at prohibited times.

Check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to make sure you’re covered for car hire excess and to see how much you’re covered for. Learn more about car hire excess cover if you’re planning on renting out a set of wheels for your next trip.

Does travel insurance cover cancellation?

Yes, if you take out travel insurance around the time of booking your trip (or well before you take off), it may cover cancellation and travel delays (both major and minor).

However, this will largely depend on the type of policy you have. For example, basic travel insurance policies usually won’t cover cancellation and amendment fees or travel delays. On the other hand, comprehensive travel insurance policies will usually cover cancellation costs if your flight (or cruise) is cancelled or if you are no longer able to travel (due to unforeseen circumstances) and need to cancel.

Comprehensive policies may also cover you for ‘cutting your trip short’ and cancellation; for example, if you need to return home because an immediate or close family member (under a certain age) is sick or has passed away unexpectedly. Comprehensive policies may also have limited cover for flow-on expenses of cancellation or delay, such as alternative transport expenses, delayed luggage allowance, resumption of the journey, and travel delay expenses.

Check your Product Disclosure Statement to make sure there are no exclusions for cancellations and to identify the limits of your cover if your flight or trip gets unexpectedly cancelled.

N.B. If your trip is cancelled due to a natural disaster, your policy will need to list ‘natural disasters’ as an inclusion to be covered for any cancellation or delay expenses.

Are natural disasters covered by travel insurance?

Yes, you may be covered for expenses that you might incur as a result of unforeseen natural disasters or bad weather, as long as you have purchased your travel insurance policy before the event occurred and it covers natural disasters. For example, if you experience a flood, earthquake, thunderstorm, hurricane, tornado, typhoon, landslide, tsunami or volcanic eruption while you’re travelling, you may be covered for medical expenses (if you get injured) or cancellations and delays that are a result of this natural disaster.

However, you generally won’t be covered (or will have limited cover for luggage and medical expenses, but no cover for flights and accommodation) if you get travel insurance after the natural disaster has already begun. Also, your travel insurance may not cover you if you travel to a region or country with an active travel warning (see smartraveller.gov.au); if the event has already started, insurers might place an embargo (restriction where they won’t offer new policies) for that region or country until the event or natural disaster is over.

If it’s general knowledge that there are usually issues because of a natural disaster (known event) in the region or country you’re travelling to, then you won’t be able to claim on your insurance for natural disaster events. You shouldn’t have any problems making a claim if an unexpected natural disaster occurs after you’ve arrived at your destination, though.

Check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to make sure natural disasters aren’t an exclusion on your policy. Above all else, make sure you compare travel insurance and find a policy that covers natural disasters before you go.

What is multi-trip travel insurance?

Multi-trip travel insurance will cover you for every trip you make within a 12-month period. Depending on your policy, it can cover you for cancellations, overseas medical costs, theft, loss or damage of luggage or possessions, personal liability, and more. Just be mindful, however, that cover may be limited for some of the above benefits.

If you’re regularly travelling within Australia, you can purchase a domestic multi-trip policy, although your cover will be subject to you being a minimum distance from your home, and it won’t cover medical or hospital expenses already covered by Medicare.

If you’re doing multiple overseas trips throughout the year, you can buy an international policy. However if you’re travelling to specific countries, you’ll need to make sure you’re covered for those regions in your policy. If your regular trips are work-related, it might be worth checking out business travel insurance instead.

Multi-trip travel policies will be subject to the same exclusions you might find in regular travel insurance. This may include conditional cover (or no cover at all) for travellers with pre-existing health conditions or for snow or extreme sports (like skiing) or cruises. It could also include limited cover for travellers over a certain age (usually 65). Multi-trip policies will also have a maximum length that you’re covered for per trip (usually 20-90 days), which means your policy won’t cover you for any losses incurred while travelling if your trip exceeds the maximum trip length listed in your product disclosure statement (PDS) or on your certificate of insurance.

You’ll need to be in Australia when your Certificate of Insurance is issued, so these policies can’t be bought from overseas (i.e. after you’ve departed for your trip). If you want to be covered for multiple trips throughout the year, compare travel insurance policies with Compare the Market.

What does annual travel insurance cover?

Annual travel insurance (also known as multi-trip insurance) covers all the trips you make in a single year, with the same benefits that you might find in a single trip policy. This should include the following benefits (potentially with limited cover):

  • cancellation and delay costs;
  • emergency travel and accommodation;
  • theft, loss or damage of luggage or personal belongings;
  • overseas medical and dental costs; and
  • liability cover.

It’s important to be mindful of the policy you buy, as you may need to get cover for certain regions. For example, you might regularly travel to Asia to visit family, so you might just buy a policy which covers you for that region. However, then this policy won’t cover you if you decide to go to Europe for a holiday. Also, annual travel insurance policies generally have a maximum trip length that you’re covered for, which is usually 20-90 days. This means your policy won’t cover you for losses incurred during your trip if the length of your trip exceeds the maximum trip length listed in your product disclosure statement (PDS) or on your certificate of insurance.

Most people will purchase annual travel insurance for their international excursions. While you can take out this type of cover for trips within Australia, it will be subject to you being a minimum distance from your home and it won’t cover medical or hospital services covered by Medicare.

Annual travel insurance can’t be bought after you’ve departed on your trip, as you’ll need to be in Australia when your Certificate of Insurance is issued. Find out more about annual travel insurance or compare travel insurance policies to cover you for multiple trips throughout the year.

What does travel insurance not cover?

If you want to find out what your travel insurance does not cover, it’s best to read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or contact your insurer. However, there are some common travel insurance exclusions which are usually not covered or will invalidate any claims, including:

  • If you purchase your cover after you have been injured, after your luggage has been stolen, or after an incident or natural disaster has occurred;
  • If you act recklessly, knowingly put yourself in danger, do something illegal, engage in a high-risk activity, or break the law in the country you’re visiting;
  • If your luggage is stolen while unattended;
  • If you have poor health, as some pre-existing conditions won’t be covered at all, some will need a medical assessment and approval by your insurer;
  • If you’re pregnant beyond the limit of cover (24-26 weeks for multiple-child pregnancy, 32 weeks for single and uncomplicated pregnancy);
  • If you’re injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even the incident wasn’t your fault);
  • If you are already adequately compensated by a third party (tour operator, airline), you won’t be covered twice;
  • If you travel to a dangerous country with an active travel warning that you knew about (see SmartTraveller), if your claim is based on an incident in war, invasion or a revolution, or your travel plans were affected by a terrorist attack (you may be able to still claim medical expenses for a terrorist attack);
  • If you didn’t have the proper license to drive a particular vehicle;
  • If you went scuba diving without a license or without someone who is properly licensed;
  • If you weren’t wearing appropriate headgear (helmet for riding scooter etc.) at the time of your accident;
  • If your hotel/tour operator goes broke;
  • If you get injured in extreme sports or winter sports, where you’ll need adventure travel insurance or (ski insurance has limitations and exclusions like off-piste skiing);
  • If you get sick because you didn’t get the proper vaccines before leaving Australia; or
  • If you didn’t report a theft to the proper authorities (local policies, airline, hotel, and insurer) within a particular timeframe - usually 24 hours after the incident.

What does travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance provides a range of cover options, depending on the type of policy you take out. You can see what travel insurance generally covers in the table below.

What’s covered by travel insurance?Basic policyComprehensive ‘top level’ policy
Overseas emergency medical assistance and hospital expensesYes (usually unlimited)Yes (usually unlimited)
Personal liability (covers costs if you’re responsible for injury or death of someone else or damage or destruction of someone else’s belongings or public property)Yes (limited)Yes (higher limit than basic)
Luggage/baggage and personal effects which are lost, stolen or damagedAvailable on select policies (limited)Yes (higher limit than basic)
Dental expensesAvailable on select policies (limited)Available on select policies (limited)
Additional expensesAvailable on select policies (limited)Yes (higher limit than basic)
Cancellation and amendment fees / cutting your trip shortNoYes (usually unlimited)
Accidental deathNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Alternative transportNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Delayed luggage allowanceNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Hospital cash allowanceNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Loss of incomeNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Permanent disabilityNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Pet careNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Rental vehicle excessNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Resumption of journeyNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Theft of cashNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Travel delay expensesNoAvailable on select policies (limited)
Travel documents, credit cards and traveller's chequesNoAvailable on select policies (limited)

It’s best to check your Product Disclosure Statement to determine exactly what you’re covered for.

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