As we’ve discovered with our upcoming trip to Vanuatu, there is so much to think about that travel insurance can often be the last thing on your mind, but possibly one of the most important things you need to consider. Here are our top tips for choosing travel insurance that’s right for you, and how not to get stung if you do need to make a claim:
1. Book your insurance as early as possible.
It’s important to do this for two reasons:
(a) You might not have realised it, but travel insurance can have waiting periods. So, if you’ve left it until you’re sitting in the airport, and something happens to your luggage – or you – on the flight out, you may not be covered for anything at all.
(b) You get travel insurance not just so you are covered while you are out of the country, but so you are covered in the event you never even get to leave the country. There might be restrictions on this, and like anything else you will need to read the fine print, but there is a chance that, due to ill health or some other unforeseen circumstance, you will get some or all of the money back that you have paid for your trip. Well worth checking out.
2. Shop around.
There are so many companies out there these days offering travel insurance that it pays to take a little bit of time to shop around. Prices can vary hugely, and you may pay a lot more for some insurance for extras that you just don’t need. Make the most of insurance comparison websites such as http://www.comparetravelinsurance.com.au/ or http://www.comparethemarket.com.au/travel-insurance/. Make the most of Google!
Think you’ve found a great deal? Awesome! But don’t get caught out by cheap policies not including what you do need.
3. Think about what you’re doing overseas.
If you’re planning just a basic trip, a bit of sightseeing and restaurant dining, you might be fine with just a basic “no frills” plan. Want to do a bit (or a lot) of scuba diving? Keen on skiing down the alps in Japan or bungee jumping in Thailand? You may need a more “premium” insurance plan. We found quite a few plans where scuba diving was a standard inclusion, but just as many where you needed a Level 2 plan (out of 3 levels). Likewise, a large number of plans won’t cover you for skiing or taking your own ski gear with you. If in doubt, always ask and get it in writing. Don’t ever make any assumptions about what’s included.
4. Check the $$ inclusions.
Policies can vary greatly in their $ values, particularly with luggage and personal effects and medical assistance. Don’t brush it off now. You might not think too seriously now about a $500 or $10,000 hospital inclusion, but if the worst happens, it’s a big tab for you to pick up. Make sure you know what value you are getting with your policy, and don’t assume that the dearest policy is going to have the best value.
5. Check where your baggage is insured.
We were surprised by the number of insurers that won’t cover your personal possessions if it’s transported in the cargo hold of the plane. That’s right – your $3,000 camera gear that you made sure was covered by an adequate amount may not be covered at all unless you take it with you as carry-on luggage. When you have reached your destination, check the policy contents regarding where you can store your gear if out on a day trip.
6. What happens if you need to claim?
If your passport or possessions are stolen, but you don’t report it to police within 24 hours (or at all), you can probably expect that it won’t be covered. We obviously don’t encourage making frivolous police claims, but if you believe your possessions may have been stolen, report it to the local authorities as quickly as possible and always get confirmation of this in writing. Check your policy disclosure statement so you know exactly what you have to do in order to make a successful claim if you suffer a loss.
7. Copies of your policy.
With electronic devices like iPads, iPhones, etc. it’s not hard to keep a copy of your policy with you, but we’d also suggest leaving a copy of the policy with a relative back home. Should anything happen to you or your belongings, they may be able to help out and liaise with your insurer back home. It never hurts to have a backup.
8. Planning a lot more travel?
If you’re planning more than just one trip in the next 12 months, consider whether a multi-trip policy may suit you. It could save you bucket-loads in the long-term as opposed to a brand new policy for each trip.
9. Single, couple or family?
Don’t assume that your policy will cover everybody travelling with you! Make sure it covers you and your partner, and any kids. And don’t forget your furry friends if they’re travelling with you.
10. Be open about any pre-existing medical condition.
Even if you’re not sure, put it all down when planning you’re insurance. If it’s not covered or you don’t need additional cover for it, your insurer will let you know. The last thing you want to do is pretend that those tablets you’re on won’t affect any claim. Chances are, it will, and you do not want to get caught out. Don’t forget any conditions close relatives have that may also affect your health insurance claims.
These are just a few of the things we had to think about. If you’ve got other tips, comment below!