International Travel Insurance for Australians
Whether you are jetting off to Bali, Bulgaria or Botswana, you can’t afford to leave home without a good international travel insurance policy. While holding a travel insurance policy is not a condition of entry to most overseas destinations, not having insurance could cost you dearly. No one plans for something to go wrong on their holidays, but things do go wrong. And suffering an injury or illness that lands you in a foreign hospital could cost thousands of dollars. In the United States, non-surgical treatment for something as simple as a broken arm could set you back upwards of $2,500 if you don’t have insurance. An average three-night hospital stay for inpatient treatment in the United States costs upwards of $30,000.
International travel insurance will not only cover you against unexpected medical emergencies, but it also protects against things like lost or delayed luggage, lost or stolen personal belongings, cancellation of trips, rental car excess and personal liability cover. Don’t take a major risk by not having international travel insurance before leaving Australia.
What does international travel insurance cover?
Most comprehensive international travel insurance policies in Australia have fairly standard inclusions across the board. It is important to read the Product Disclosure Statement for each policy you are considering, but common benefits include the following:
- Overseas medical and dental expenses – cover if you suffer an unexpected injury or illness while overseas which requires medical treatment. Most policies provide uncapped cover for medical expenses, but emergency dental cover is generally only up to a capped amount.
- Evacuation and Repatriation – cover if you need to return to Australia for medical treatment.
- Cancellation – cover for cancellation costs of a trip if you, a travelling companion or direct family member becomes seriously ill, is injured or passes away before or during your trip. Cancellation for other unexpected reasons such as a natural disaster or a redundancy may also be provided.
- Luggage and personal belongings – cover if your luggage is delayed or lost during a trip, as well as cover if your personal belongings are lost or stolen during a trip. This may include coverage for lost passports and fraudulent use of lost or stolen credit or debit cards.
- Rental car excess – cover for the excess charged by rental car companies if a car is lost, stolen or damaged while in your possession.
- Personal accident – coverage for your accidental death while overseas, including payments for funeral expenses. Coverage may also be provided if you become permanently disabled during a trip, or if you lose income because you are unable to work upon returning home due to an injury or illness suffered overseas.
- Personal liability – cover if you injure or cause the death of another person in an accident, or accidently damage another person or company’s property.
International travel insurance with Covid-19 cover
Many international travel insurance policies now include coverage for medical expenses if you contract Covid-19 while overseas. Coverage may also be provided for the non-refundable pre-paid cancellation costs of a trip if you or a travelling companion contracts Covid-19 prior to travel and are unable to depart as planned. However, coverage for any government-imposed border closures, lockdowns, quarantine or mandated Covid-19 tests are generally excluded from international travel insurance policies.
International travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions
Some low-risk pre-existing medical conditions are automatically covered by many international travel insurance policies. However, anything that is not listed as being automatically covered needs to be disclosed at the time of taking out insurance. Having a pre-existing medical condition does not necessarily mean an international travel insurance provider will not cover you. But failure to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions may result in the policy being void and claims being denied if you do require medical treatment while overseas.
Compare international travel insurance
While many international travel insurance polies might look the same on the surface, they can greatly vary. Claim limits can be very different in some categories of cover. For example, some insurers offer a benefit limit of up to $2000 for lost or damaged luggage, while others offer $25,000 or more worth of coverage. The excess you will pay if you need to make a claim can also significantly differ. For these reasons, it is important to look for the best international travel insurance for your needs rather than the cheapest policy.
International travel insurance for cruises and snow sports
Many international travel insurance providers allow you to add coverage for cruises and snow sports to standard policies for an additional fee. Cruise insurance provides cover against unexpected illness or injury while on a cruise holiday, as well as medical evacuation. Thinks like payments for missed ports, missed shore excursions and cabin confinement are also often included. Snow Sports – or Winter Sports – cover will protect you for medical expenses if you are injured while taking part in non-competitive recreational winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and snowmobiling.
Countries with a reciprocal healthcare agreement for Australians
Australia has reciprocal healthcare agreements with 11 other countries.
These countries are: Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. As part of these agreements, Australian’s who hold a Medicare card can access medically necessary health services in an emergency while overseas. Should you suffer an injury or illness that needs urgent treatment before you return home, you can receive emergency treatment while visiting these countries.
However, it is important to note that these agreements are not a suitable replacement for international travel insurance. In New Zealand, for example, the agreements do not cover free or subsidised care by a general practitioner or transport to hospital by ambulance. These agreements will also not cover medical repatriation if you become seriously ill while overseas and need to return home for further treatment. You will also not be covered for other standard international travel insurance inclusions like cancellation costs, public liability cover, lost or stolen luggage, rental car excess insurance and more. The Australian Government therefore highly recommends international travel insurance for travel to all overseas destinations, including reciprocal healthcare countries.