1. What will travel insurance for Asia cover?
Before planning your Asian trip, we would advise researching which countries are deemed unsafe for travel. The Smartraveller website gives some insight into the safety of certain Asian countries, using a risk factor scale.
Medical and health cover: In a lot of Asian countries, access to suitable medical help is limited and can be hugely expensive, should you require any serious medical attention. Ensure your travel insurance offers you the best medical cover available – including emergency assistance – when travelling in and around Asia.
Trip cancellation and interruption: Trip delays or cancellations are a reality. Choose travel insurance that will cover you financially for any setbacks. This could include missing a pre-booked day trip to a nearby island, for which your travel insurance should reimburse you.
Theft or loss of personal belongings: Petty theft is common in Asia, particularly in the poorer regions, so ensure that you are covered for any theft or loss of belongings.
Emergency medical evacuation: If you are in an area where medical assistance is not suitable for your needs, you may need to be evacuated to a better facility in Asia, or back home to Australia. Your travel insurance may cover you for any emergency evacuations that are needed.
Car rental cover: Depending on your level of cover, your travel insurance may cover you for any excess incurred due to an accident while in Asia – provided you have a valid driver’s license for driving in Asia. Some Asian countries may also require an International Driving Permit (IDP), to allow you to drive in their country.
24/7 emergency assistance: A broken down scooter on the roads of Bangkok – or a medical emergency on the slopes of Japan – are not where you want to be without emergency backup to assist. Choose an insurer that offers 24/7 emergency assistance for wherever you are in Asia.
2. What won’t travel insurance for Asia cover?
Unattended belongings: Leaving your belongings unattended, resulting in loss or theft, will not be covered by your insurer. This includes leaving your personal belongings in an unlocked hotel room.
Risky adventure trips: Certain holiday adventures may be considered high risk activities, such as skiing at Appi Kogen in Japan ¹ , scuba diving in Phuket ², or hiking in Southeast Asia ³. Check with your insurer on what activities are covered – you may need to add extra cover to your travel insurance if you plan on participating in any risky activities.
Natural disasters: You might not be covered for any damage or loss of property or physical harm incurred due to natural disasters while in an Asian country, particularly if you are travelling somewhere with high disaster warnings. Check with your insurer before embarking on your trip. The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) ⁴ keeps an updated report of natural disasters around the globe, which you can check before travelling. You can also sign up for updated alerts concerning your destination, through the Smartraveller website.
Motorbikes and scooters: For motorbikes or scooters, you will need to have an equivalent Australian motorbike license to hire one in Asia. You will not be covered for any medical expenses incurred due to an accident if no crash helmet is worn. Your travel insurance may also not cover any motorbike or scooter damage due to accident.
Pre-existing medical conditions: Some pre-existing conditions are not covered by travel insurance, however, you should check with your insurer first – you may need to pay an extra fee to be covered while travelling.
3. Is Asia safe for Australians to travel to?
A vast majority of Asia is considered safe for travel, however, there are certain countries and regions where safety is a concern or travel is advised against altogether. You can view safety guidelines by country, through the Smartraveller website. Be aware that your travel insurance may not cover you if you enter a country with a “Do not travel” advisory in place.
Some safety guidelines to consider before travelling to an Asian country:
Food poisoning: Asia is known for its exotic cuisine, which in most parts of Asia is an experience not to be missed. There are, however, some parts of Asia, generally in the more rural areas, where food might not have been prepared safely. Take care when purchasing food from vendors on the street or from restaurants where food has been sitting around for hours. Try to drink only bottled water where possible and ask about the origin of your food source. If you do become ill due to food poisoning, your travel insurance should cover you for any medical and extra expenses incurred – check with your insurer beforehand.
Risk of disease: Travelling in Asia can be an incredible experience, but the risks of catching certain diseases are very real. For instance, in Southern Asia diseases such as Rabies, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, and Typhoid disease ⁵ are prevalent, along with numerous other diseases that you should be aware of. Speak to your General Practitioner before leaving, about which vaccines are recommended, being sure to have these done at least eight weeks prior to travelling. You can also read more about diseases per region, and the relevant vaccines, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ⁶. Your travel insurance may not cover you for any medical expenses if you have not received the recommended vaccines, or taken necessary precautions.
Petty theft: Petty crimes are encountered throughout Asia, particularly in the poorer regions. Ensure you are always on high alert and aware of your surroundings. Beggars are often visible on the streets and con men are always looking for the next scam opportunity. Your travel insurance may not cover you for any crimes where negligence is evident.
Drug laws: Drugs are rampant in a lot of Asian cities, despite the heavy drug laws that exist. Don’t fall prey to this sometimes life-threatening activity – you do not want to end up in an Asian jail.
Travelling alone: Travelling at any time in Asia should be done with caution, but travelling alone even more so. Women in particular should be on high alert when travelling alone to certain Asian countries, to avoid assault and harassment, or more serious crimes. Travel insurance is often cheaper when you travel with someone, so it may be worth your while exploring this option.
Hiring of vehicles: Take caution when renting a car, motorbike or other means of transport in an Asian country. Operators of these vehicles can often become violent and dishonest when it comes to the condition of a vehicle, laying blame for damage that may have not been your doing. Always photograph the vehicle before, keeping it as evidence for future if need be. Roads in certain Asian countries can be extremely dangerous and congested, making travel somewhat interesting – drive with caution and your wits about you. You don’t want the risk of not being covered by your travel insurance, for negligent driving or damage caused to a vehicle that is not your fault.
Always keep emergency details at hand for local hospitals, police stations, the Australian Embassy and Consulate, and other emergency services in the area you will be travelling to or through. It would be advisable to also keep your insurer details with you, in the event of you needing to make a claim while overseas or to query something. If you insure with one of our four insurers – QBE, CHI, SureSave or Aussietravelcover – we have all the details listed for you.
4. How to save on travel insurance for Asia
Medical insurance only: If your main financial concern when travelling to an Asian country is
the cost of medical expenses, should they arise, you could choose travel insurance that only
covers medical bills. This option could help save extra travel insurance costs.
Travel insurance for kids: Some travel insurance policies offer free cover for dependants
under a certain age limit. Ask your insurer whether they offer this option – this would be a huge
Cost of travel: Investigating the cost of hiring a vehicle as opposed to using local transport
could help determine how much travel insurance is needed. If you can get away with using local
transport and save on insurance on a rental vehicle, you can reduce your travel insurance costs.
Personal belongings: If your personal belongings are cheap enough to replace in an Asian
country, where things are generally cheaper, it might be worth forgoing travel insurance for
Travel insurance in numbers: Travel insurance may be cheaper when you purchase it for two
or more people. If you are travelling with a friend, consider purchasing travel insurance together
to save on individual costs, while group travel insurance is also available for travel groups of 10 or more people all travelling for the same reason.
5. Travel and travel insurance tips for Asia
Respect local cultures and religions: Asian countries have a variety of cultures and religions, each with their own rules and etiquette. Try researching the areas you will be travelling to or through, and learn a bit about the religion and culture of that area, to show respect to the locals. For instance, in Thailand, it is respectful to take off your shoes inside a temple or building, and you should cover up your body where possible when visiting a temple.
Travel simply: Avoid any unwanted attention by flashing jewellery or expensive items that can be easily stolen. Rather travel without them, or leave them in your hotel safe where possible. If you do need to travel with expensive items, ensure you have sufficient travel insurance to cover these costs if they are lost or stolen.
Be weather conscious: Holiday life can easily leave you oblivious to the harmful rays of the sun or extreme weather conditions. Always take caution when it comes to sunburn, even in snow when you would least expect it – sunstroke can leave you extremely sick. In tropical areas where bursts of rain can be expected, travel with a raincoat if possible.
Learn the rules of the road: There are various rules that apply to different Asian countries, along with which side of the road you should travel on. Before you leave for your destination, research which side of the road you would drive on, and any other road rules that may be different to Australia. At the start of each day of your trip, look at a map to know exactly where you are going, to reduce the possibility of being lost or confused on the road. This will help to avoid unnecessary accidents, and inevitably claiming from your travel insurance.
Contact details to assist you on your trip to Asia: