Astonishing travel insurance misunderstanding

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And generally, Australians are pretty good at it. According to the most recent Survey of Australians’ Travel Insurance Behaviour, commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the take up of travel insurance remains very high, at over 90 per cent.

However, while take up is encouraging, it turns out that we don’t really understand our travel insurance coverage — and that is alarming.

Almost the same amount of travellers taking out travel insurance policies aren’t clear about what it covers, with 87 per cent in the same survey saying they were uncertain about what countries their policy covered.

Ash Zaman from Travel Insurance Direct said this result is “astonishing”. But the simplest explanation, according to Mr Zaman, is likely because people are just opting in for travel insurance rather than researching it themselves.

“That’s an astonishing percentage of travellers unsure of what countries they’re covered for under their travel insurance,” he told news.com.au.

“There are a few contributing factors at play, a key one is the fact that many people don’t actually purchase their travel insurance themselves. In many instances travel insurance is provided automatically as part of their credit card or travel insurance is purchased through a travel agent with the customer not necessarily being completely involved in the process.”

Eighty-seven per cent of Aussie travellers were uncertain about what countries their travel insurance policy covered.

Eighty-seven per cent of Aussie travellers were uncertain about what countries their travel insurance policy covered.Source:istock

Being involved in researching your own travel insurance is important because different insurers classify regions differently.

“Many people don’t realise regions can vary between insurers so make sure you check which countries your policy covers before you purchase,” Bessie Hassan from comparison site finder.com.au told news.com.au.

Insurers generally provide policies in terms of regions rather than individual countries.

“Even when people buy travel insurance themselves they are generally given the option of buying cover for a region as opposed to a country (i.e. Asia or Europe vs. Thailand or France, respectively). This can cause some confusion as to which specific countries they are and aren’t covered for,” Mr Zaman explained.

A common example used by DFAT is that some insurers cover travel to Bali under their Asia Pacific Policy, but not the rest of Indonesia.

“Travellers should check with their insurer before they fly out that the specific countries they are visiting are in fact covered under their policy as not having the right countries selected may impact cover with some insurers,” Mr Zaman said.

In conjunction with checking with their specific insurer, Ms Hassan said travellers should also check the Government’s Smartraveller website because official travel warnings can also affect policies.

“Before you book your trip and travel insurance, check the Government’s Smartraveller site to see if there are any specific travel warnings in place for your destination,” she said.

“If the Government’s travel warning for a country is ‘reconsider your need to travel’ or ‘do not travel’ then while you may still be able to take out a policy, you’re unlikely to be able to make a claim.

“The Smartraveller site will also let you know if there are specific issues or tourist scams you should look out for in a particular country, which may encourage you to take out a more comprehensive policy.”

julia.corderoy@news.com.au

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