The federal government recently released their ‘Choice Guide to Travel Insurance’ in an attempt to encourage Australians to get travel insurance before heading overseas.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop released the guide, written by the consumer group Choice to coincide with the northern hemisphere ski season, a busy period for insurers.
She said several recently released insurance industry studies indicated almost 19% of Australians who travelled overseas in the last two years did not have travel insurance.
“The Australian Government will not meet expenses if travellers are uninsured including expensive overseas hospital and medical evacuation,” she said.
I encourage travellers to read the fine print of the policy to ensure they are covered for their destination…or if they have pre-existing medical conditions.”
The Choice Guide to Travel Insurances used examples of travellers left with crippling financial debt to discourage people from holidaying without insurance or not reading the fine print of their policy.
One example includes a man who was left $90,000 in debt as a result of a quad bike accident in Peru.
The man suffered spinal injuries and required surgery in Lima. However his policy did not cover quad biking and his insurance company were unwilling to pay out on his claim.
International Travel Consultant for Escape Travel Kelly Papps said even small medical problems can end up costing travellers thousands of dollars and unnecessary emotional distress if they do not take out comprehensive travel insurance.
“Being in the USA where they have no public health system, something that is normally simply fixed like a broken arm can cost upwards of $10,000,” she said.
“It is also good to know your insurance company has a 24 hour emergency assist line that is easily contactable. Many ‘free credit card’ policies only have a business hours contact number, which doesn’t help much when you are overseas and needing to speak to someone at 2am Australian time on a Saturday.”
Queenslander Matthew Cooper recently purchased travel insurance for his May 2015 European holiday and said he is happy that his policy covers him for any misadventures while overseas.
“When you are spending thousands of dollars on an overseas trip it makes sense to spend that little bit extra to insure your travel,” he said.
“It provides security for my family and myself and lets me know that if I do run into trouble overseas I will be able to get medical assistance [that] will not cost me a small fortune.”
A copy of the Choice insurance guide can be found on the Smarttraveller website.