Overseas travel is one thing that people all over the world aspire to. Whether cruising around the Greek Islands on a luxury yacht, sipping brandy by the fire in a Swiss chalet after a day of skiing; or elephant spotting in Kenya, an overseas trip can be the adventure of a lifetime. Unfortunately, though, it can also be the disaster of a lifetime unless due diligence is carried out prior to setting off.
Along with passports and plane tickets, one of the most important things to remember before travelling overseas is to arrange Travel Insurance. Not just any “cheapest-you-can-find” travel insurance, but a policy that will take good care of you should the unforeseen occur.
Types of travel insurance vary from company to company and it is well worth your while to spend some considerable time shopping around before committing to one policy. Remember, what is considered an acceptable risk by one insurer, may be excluded by another. Definitions of terms may also vary.
Take terrorism, for example. Most insurance policies will exclude acts of terrorism from being claimable events, however, the definition of what constitutes a terrorist act can vary between insurers. What one insurer may deem as an act of violence and therefore claimable, another insurer may deem terrorism and deny any claim.
In this age of terrorism threats and war-torn nations, travellers should always heed governmental advice as to whether or not travel to certain regions is recommended. If deciding to travel to a country despite government warnings, it may be difficult to obtain travel insurance at all. If it is obtained, it will probably be very expensive and its cover fairly limited.
It is crucial that you understand exactly what is and isn’t excluded from the policy before you sign on the dotted line. Indeed, being aware of the exclusions is, arguably, even more important than knowing what is covered. Get clear in your mind the insurer’s definition of claimable and non-claimable events. If at all possible, endeavour to get those definitions in writing.
Get the language right. Ask as many questions as it takes to know exactly where you stand. Remember, the only dumb questions are ones that haven’t been asked yet and given a voice. If going through a broker or agent, double check with the insurer if uncertain of their answers. It’s wise to remember too, that no insurance policy is going to cover you for every single thing that could possibly happen on your holiday. The prudent traveller will ensure, however, that what he or she needs to be covered for will be.
For example, does the policy allow you to participate in “adventure activities”? If you’re going bungee jumping in New Zealand or white-water rafting in Canada, make sure your insurer knows about it and will cover you for accidents occurring during such activities.
Is your luggage excluded if left unattended? What does “left unattended” mean? What if you leave it in a taxi? What if you walk two metres from it to buy a chocolate bar from a vending machine?
It’s a good idea to also familiarise yourself with claims procedures before departing so as to avoid the “paper frenzy” in the event of an accident. Some policies have a time limit for reporting claims. In some cases, the incident must be reported to local authorities within twenty-four hours in order to claim.
Be aware too that some countries may not recognise all insurance companies. This could pose a problem if hospitalisation is required. If the insurer isn’t recognised in that country you may not get hospital treatment. Make sure that the insurer has a global reputation.
It’s very expensive to be injured overseas. For instance, medical evacuation from the United States to Australia can cost anything from $80,000.00 upwards. If a stay in hospital is required, the bill could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. And you thought shopping in Beverly Hills would be fun….
It’s also dangerous to be injured overseas, particularly in countries where medical facilities may not be as well equipped as at home. Again, the evacuation costs can run into many thousands of dollars – and no insurance means a lifetime of debt.
Travelling without the right travel insurance is like walking a tightrope without a net. Sure, it can be done, but one tiny slip and it’s too late for “If only”s. And chances are, it will be your loved ones at home who will mortgage their houses, cash in their superannuation and face considerable financial hardship in order to bring you back to the fold.
All in all, travel insurance is one thing you should definitely not leave home without!