So you have worked hard all year sweating it out in the hot Australian sun and now it's time to take some time to relax and do some travelling over the Christmas break. All going well you will come back refreshed and pumped up to jump back on the tools in 2015. But what if things don't go so well? What could this Christmas trip cost you if you aren't prepared or don't have the right cover?
Travel Insurance could be the only thing separating you from a disaster overseas so when selecting a policy consider the following tips.
Each year upwards of 38,000 Australian passports are either lost or stolen.
The inconvenience of losing travel documents often amounts to a great deal more than the replacement fees. Remember those hard to get visas? They’ll need to be re-applied for and re-stamped, after the passport is replaced. A good travel insurance policy should not only cover the cost of replacing travel documents (including credit cards), but also the additional fares of travelling to and staying in the capital city of the country you’re visiting. Keeping copies of visas and passport info may save time when applying for replacements.
Item limits on baggage
While most policies will usually show a large Sum Insured for baggage, remember this is a total and that limits on individual items usually apply. Jewellery, mobile phones and sporting equipment are the most common items that travellers “assume” are covered for their value. It’s therefore important to choose a plan with adequate item limit coverage for what you plan to take (and purchase en route).
Smart phones are hot property
Theft and accidental loss of smart phone overseas is increasing rapidly. It’s worth remembering that what’s actually stored on your phone may be worth more to the thief than its second hand value. Personal information of our friends and relatives can be worth a lot in some countries, banking details can be hacked and social media accounts can be accessed. In extreme cases it can even contribute to identity theft. Installing effective security such as a password may make your personal information more difficult to access.
Also, most travel policies now provide free call numbers from individual countries. Put the numbers for the countries you will be visiting into your contacts so that if you need help access is easy and fast. Don’t forget to do the same for the children as a back-up in case they become lost and can’t get through to you.
Annual policies can be better value
A[BG6] nnual policies allowing multiple trips throughout a 12 month period often represent better value (and coverage), especially for trips in excess of 3 weeks. Choose a policy that covers both domestic and international travel and doesn’t differentiate between business and leisure trips. This way you will automatically be covered if a claimable event prevents you from taking one of those quick weekend trips down to Sydney or Melbourne to see an expensive show, or indulge in a special five star pamper experience.
While many policies now cover Rental Vehicle Insurance Excess read the fine print carefully. In some cases you may still be required to pay the daily rate the car hire firm offers in order to decrease the excess. This benefit can save travellers a considerable amount of money when they can rely on the policy to cover them for the full excess if the rental vehicle is damaged or stolen. It’s important though to have sufficient capacity on your credit card to carry the full excess until you’re in a position to lodge the claim against your travel policy. Care should be taken to ensure that the names for the nominated drivers on the rental contract match those on the insurance policy. Some policies will cover not only cars but also motor homes, motor bikes and even boats (e.g. house boats or self-sail barge holidays)
This is probably one of the most important aspects of any policy. What is the level of assistance you can expect? Most insurance providers outsource this essential service so you may not be speaking to Australia when you call. Outsourcing may cause delays when the assistance provider needs authority from the insurer to authorise an expensive hospital admission. Or worse,the emergency service may only operate during business hours, which isn’t much help when you’re in trouble on the wrong end of a 12 hour time difference. Still others may not provide assistance but only emergency medical help. Try and source a policy where everything is managed by the insurance company to ensure a speedy answer to an emergency situation, as well as providing general assistance for any problem that might occur during the trip. It’s amazing how reassuring it can be to speak to an Australian when you’re stressed following a theft or loss in a country where English is not the first language.
More Baggage Tips
- Always keep receipts and instruction manuals separate from the items so you can use them to assist in substantiating the claim.
- Always carry valuables such as jewellery, laptops, phones etc. in your carry-on bags as many insurers exclude valuables inside checked luggage.
- Sets (skis stocks and bindings, or regulator/ SCUBA tanks) are regarded as one item. Similarly, accessories to an item such as a tripod/ lenses are accessories to a camera and so are regarded as one total item. Ensure the overall item limit for sets, pairs (shoes), accessories etc. are sufficient to cover the total value and, if not, take out additional baggage insurance.
- Most travel policies are based on market value, not replacement. This means taking the original purchase price, less depreciation for the number of years you have had it to arrive at a value in today’s market. This may not be sufficient to replace the item.
- Does the policy cover the sport or activity that you are planning to undertake? E.g. if you are taking a mountain bike or a surfboard, will they be covered whilst in use?
Final Tip: Read the policy wording, particularly comparing the exclusions. If in doubt ask. Remember you do also have a cooling off period to change your mind. If in doubt give us a call 1800 024 799 and we will be happy to chat to you about your concerns.