Travel Insurance: Why You Need It and What You Need to Know

Travel insurance. It’s about as exciting as what everyone on your Facebook had for dinner last night.

But if you’ve been living on bread, butter and goon for six months to pay for your dream holiday, don’t risk it turning into a financial disaster by not protecting yourself on your trip.

We know you’d rather put your extra dosh towards your adventure, but purchasing travel insurance is a necessary evil. In fact, the Smart Traveller website advises if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. Full stop. No exceptions.

Here’s why.

  1. Medicare won’t cut it overseas

Medical expenses can be exceptionally high in foreign countries.

And if you’re uninsured and something happens, then you or your family will be personally liable for any expenses associated with it.

Heading to the USA? Well, America has some of the highest medical costs in the world. If you get sick or in an accident you could be looking into millions of dollars just for medical and hospital expenses.

Add in repatriation to get you home and even a Murdoch would be scoffing at the figure.

At the very least you need travel insurance to cover you for unlimited medical and hospital expenses as well as 24/7 emergency assistance.

Travel insurance boat

Whilst it’s unlikely that something serious will happen to you, you should always be prepared for the possibility. In 2000 Natalie Hensby was lucky to be left alive after the boat she was travelling on in Thailand hit another vessel at full speed. She was knocked unconscious and thrown into the water. Suffering swelling, bleeding and haemorrhage on her brain as well as several other horrific injuries her medical expenses came to over $100,000. Natalie has advised her travel insurance saved her life.


  1. Can you really afford to replace all that stuff?

When travelling it’s likely you’ll have more than a few gadgets with you.

You’ll definitely have a phone or some sort of camera to Instagram those travel shots and make everyone back home jelly (and to check in with mum).

And why stop there? These days you can’t sneak into a twelve-bed dorm at 2am without tripping over an iPad or brand new Macbook Air. That passport thing is kind of important too.

You get the picture. Travel insurance can cover these items if they are lost or stolen on your trip.

  1. Not everything will go your way

There are several other things travel insurance can protect you against.

Public Liability is important in case you injure someone else. You can also get cover for cancellation costs, car rental excess, credit card fraud, flight cancellations, or even if something happens to your travel buddy.

If any of these unfortunate things happen to you, you’ll be glad you’re covered.

Traps to watch out for and how to choose a policy

There are several things that won’t be covered by travel insurance. Most of them have to do with you not acting like a next level douche just because you are in another country.

Don’t do anything to deliberately put yourself in harm’s way, don’t ignore travel warnings and look after your stuff.

Go easy on the vodka because not only will it prevent you making some questionable life choices, but a claim often won’t be paid if you are intoxicated. And definitely stay away from any illegal drugs.

Several pre-existing medical conditions will not be automatically insured and you may need to pay an extra premium to have them included in your policy. Activities like bungee jumping  or riding motorbikes or scooters might also be exempt, and extreme sports like snowboarding will need to be specifically called out.

Remember, not all insurers or policies are created equal. Comparing insurers on a site such as Compare the Market will help find a policy that has the benefits that you actually need.

And lastly, always read the product disclosure statement on your policy to understand exactly what you are protected for and, importantly, what to do if you require assistance while you’re away.