Explore Travel Insurance

When you’re a student, squeezing the most out of every cent is crucial. This becomes even more important when saving for holidays. So, you can imagine the reaction any student booking a holiday would have when asked to fork out more of their hard-earned money on travel insurance.

We understand that many students may not want to buy travel insurance. However, you should know that many things can go wrong – even on well-planned trips – and paying a little bit extra now may ensure you still have money left over when you return home.

Do I need student travel insurance?

We believe all travellers need travel insurance, regardless of whether they think they do. Here are a few reasons to change your mind about travel cover.

Please note: the extent of your coverage will vary from policy to policy.

 tourist students taking a selfie in an old city

1. Travel insurance isn’t as expensive as you think. Students can buy comprehensive insurance cover for short trips to Bali* for less than $50, or Thailand* for less than $60. Even comprehensive cover for three weeks in Europe** can be under $100! That’s extremely good value when you consider that:

  • medical expenses overseas can cost thousands of dollars, even tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars;
  • transporting an injured Aussie home can cost tens of thousands of dollars; and
  • the average student doesn’t have nearly that much in their bank account!

2. It covers the activities you want to take part in. One of the best things about travelling is taking part in activities you wouldn’t normally try at home, like riding a horse on the beach in Spain or cycling around San Francisco Bay. While travel insurance doesn’t cover every activity, policies can cover skiing, bungy jumping, hiking in exotic locales, and more.

3. Money back if you miss a reservation / owe cancellation fees. Say your bus breaks down on the way to the airport, and you miss your flight to Bali. On a holiday with a packed itinerary (like a Contiki tour), this can be an enormous hassle; especially when you have spent so much time saving for the trip. Your travel insurance policy may be able to refund some of your money on lost deposits or help pay for any cancellation fees owed.

4. Your medical bills. Many of us have heard nightmare stories about travellers heading overseas without insurance, getting injured or sick, and then being forced to pay thousands of dollars for medical treatment. It bears repeating: if the country you’re travelling to does not have a reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA) with ours (i.e. where Aussies can access subsidised treatment), we strongly urge you to get travel insurance. Even if you are travelling to an RHCA country, you should still consider travel insurance, as RHCAs don’t cover everything (e.g. prescription medication, emergency transportation).

5. Lost luggage & theft protection. Imagine if someone stole your bags. Don’t panic! While your stuff may be difficult to recover, your insurance policy could replace items or pay out the value of your belongings in cash.

* Based on quotes from Compare the Market for a comprehensive travel insurance policy for a 19-year-old, travelling to Bali and Thailand on a single trip in June 2019 for 15 days
* Based on a quote from Compare the Market for a comprehensive travel insurance policy for a 19-year-old, travelling to France on a single trip in June 2019 for 22 days

Essentially, if you can afford the cost of accommodation, flights, food and activities for your holiday; you can afford insurance too. If you’re concerned that travel insurers ‘don’t pay’, keep in mind that roughly 90% of travel insurance claims were paid out in 2018-19 – of more than 313,000 claims, according to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.  

What should my student travel insurance policy include?

Here are a few things you should include in your student travel insurance policy:

  • Emergency medical and hospital expenses. As we mentioned earlier, getting sick or injured overseas can cost you thousands of dollars. Travel insurance can help you foot your medical bills, so you can focus on recovering rather than worrying about money.
  • Cancellations, delays and amendments. Travel insurance may cover the costs and fees associated with cancellations and delays. For example, if your flight is cancelled and you’re forced to find overnight accommodation.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged luggage and belongings. What if thieves snatch your passport while you’re overseas? Or your luggage is crushed during transit? It’s a nightmare scenario, but travel insurance can help ease the financial pain of these events by covering the cost (or a portion of the cost) of replacing these items.

Be mindful that not every policy covers all these benefits.

Student travel insurance: exclusions to watch out for

Travel insurance can’t cover everything, however, so it’s important to read your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand its exclusions. Specific exclusions may vary between policies and insurers, but here are a few common ones to look out for:

  • Intoxication. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you were injured, your insurer might not accept your claim, even if the incident wasn’t your fault.
  • Unattended luggage. Your luggage might not be covered by your travel insurance policy if it was left unguarded when it was stolen.
  • Travelling against advice and warnings. The Australian government issues travel warnings for countries through Smartraveller. Some insurers may not cover travel to a country with particular levels of warning. It’s a good idea to regularly check your destination on Smartraveller for any change in warning level.
  • Failure to wear headgear. If you weren’t wearing the proper headgear (i.e. a helmet when riding a scooter or motorcycle) at the time of your injury, your insurer may not accept your claim.

Top travel tips for students

1. Get travel insurance before you leave on your trip

That way, if you have to cancel your flights at the very last minute (e.g. if you get sick), you could recover some of your money. By comparison, you won’t be covered for such an incident if you take out travel insurance after it happens.

2. Be aware of international age restrictions on alcohol

If you’re gearing up to party on your big trip overseas, you need to check the legal drinking age of the country you’ll be visiting. For instance, we probably all know that the drinking age in the USA is 21, but what’s the drinking age in Thailand? Germany? Japan? The Australian government is limited in what they can do to help you out of legal trouble, so it’s important to know what the international drinking ages are, just in case.

3. If you’re travelling in a group, consider taking out a group travel insurance policy

If you’re organising a trip for a group of students who all need the same level of cover, you’re in luck. You can take out group travel insurance that will cover the entire party of travellers (exclusions permitting). So, why do this?

  • Group travel insurance policies can be cheaper than individual policies, depending on whether or not your insurer is offering certain
  • Everyone gets the same level of cover, which means everyone knows what activities they can and cannot take part in.
  • Buying just one policy to cover all members of the group can be much simpler than purchasing separate policies for each traveller.

Read more about group travel insurance policies.

4. Don’t be afraid of the cost of insurance

Travel insurance for students doesn’t cost a fortune. The cost varies based on how much coverage you want. Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive cover, basic cover, and many options in between. This allows you to match your cover to the type of holiday you are on.

For example, if you want to do some more risky activities like skiing or snorkelling, you may have to pay a little extra for your policy. Your policy cost is also influenced by things like your age, where you’re travelling to, how long you are staying, when you are travelling, and whether you need cover for pre-existing medical conditions.

So, if you could find a better price by comparing different providers against one another, why not give it a try?

We’ve gathered information for anyone needing travel insurance (e.g. families, adventurers).


General Insurance Code Governance Committee – General insurance in Australia: 2017-18 and current insights. Published March 2019, Sourced April 2019.

\Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Consular Services Charter. Published on Smartraveller.gov.au. Sourced April 2019. 

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