BE PRE­PARED FOR THRILLS

IF YOU’RE PLAN­NING A HOL­I­DAY ANY­WHERE IN AUSTRALIA OR THE REST OF THE WORLD, BE SURE TO PACK THE RIGHT TRAVEL IN­SUR­ANCE OR YOU’LL BE FLY­ING BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | ESCAPE - WORDS: Shirley Sin­clair

The bags are packed with biki­nis, sarong and sunscreen, and the surf­boards have been bub­ble-wrapped in their travel bags. Your head is filled with images of scoot­ing around Bali on a moped, surf­ing Uluwatu Beach or Padang-padang Beach and soak­ing up the sun­shine. The last thing you made sure to tick off your to-do list be­fore head­ing to the air­port was tak­ing out travel in­sur­ance. Travel is a risky busi­ness. And for many tourists, fre­quent-fly­ing busi­ness­peo­ple and those whose fam­i­lies live abroad, travel in­sur­ance is just an­other one of those things you need to or­gan­ise. We don’t want to fork out the money for it, but we can’t af­ford not to have it – just in case. Any­one who has lost their lug­gage in tran­sit or had to can­cel part of their trip be­cause of “Bali belly” and made a suc­cess­ful claim knows its im­por­tance. But just hav­ing travel in­sur­ance isn’t good enough. Un­der­standin­sur­ance.com.au spokes­woman Lisa Kable says only the right travel in­sur­ance that cov­ers your spe­cific cir­cum­stances is good enough. Un­der­stand In­sur­ance is the In­sur­ance Coun­cil of Australia’s ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vice web­site for all things “in­sur­ancey”. The web­site isn’t aligned with any prod­ucts or in­sur­ance com­pa­nies. So the or­gan­i­sa­tion has a vested in­ter­est in en­sur­ing con­sumers re­ceive good ad­vice and act upon it. You’d think that in ad­dress­ing a room full of sea­soned trav­ellers in the form of the Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Travel Writ­ers’ an­nual con­ven­tion in Thai­land this year that Lisa would be preach­ing to the con­verted. Not nec­es­sar­ily so. Some of her home truths sent shivers down the spine of those present when con­sid­er­ing the “what-if ” sit­u­a­tions that tourists may not be cov­ered for in the event of a travel in­sur­ance claim. Even be­ing preg­nant on hol­i­days (as a pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion) can have its travel in­sur­ance is­sues when need­ing to make a claim. First to the sta­tis­tics. Data from the Australia Bureau of Sta­tis­tics (Jan­uary-novem­ber last year) and the 2016 Sur­vey of Aus­tralians’ Travel In­sur­ance Be­hav­iour for smar­trav­eller.gov.au and un­der­standin­sur­ance.com.au found some con­cern­ing trends. Of the 10,500,000 trav­ellers who de­parted Australia last year, 9,943,000 (92 per cent) had travel in­sur­ance. But 840,000 (8 per cent) left Australia with­out travel in­sur­ance. Why didn’t they in­sure them­selves? Lisa says 28 per cent said they just didn’t think about it, 21 per cent were un­cer­tain if they needed it, and 14 per cent just didn’t get around to it. Only 20 per cent said it was too ex­pen­sive. Lisa says we could be void­ing our travel in­sur­ance poli­cies with­out even re­al­is­ing. A to­tal of 436,000 with­out in­sur­ance en­gaged in a risky ac­tiv­ity. And 4,620,000 (44 per cent) of in­sured trav­ellers ad­mit­ted to en­gag­ing in at least one risky ac­tiv­ity that was un­likely to be cov­ered by their pol­icy in the event of a claim. In ad­di­tion, 735,000 in­sured trav­ellers didn’t de­clare a pre-ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion, which means a claim could be de­nied. Risky be­hav­iours can in­clude: Rid­ing mo­tor­bikes, mopeds, scoot­ers, quad bikes. Ski­ing and snow sports. Wa­ter sports. Ex­treme sports in­clud­ing polo and hunt­ing. Con­sum­ing ex­ces­sive amount of al­co­hol or tak­ing il­le­gal drugs. Cos­metic surgery. Some poli­cies also con­sider sail­ing on a pri­vate ves­sel in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters as risky. While it may come as no sur­prise that the 18-29 age group were most likely to en­gage in risky be­hav­iour (about 75 per cent do), Lisa says there’s no ex­cuse not to have the right travel in­sur­ance as many of the risky be­hav­iours can be cov­ered, of­ten as an add-on. “Take a 19-year-old surfer trav­el­ling to Bali for three weeks,” she says. “A $85.90 com­pre­hen­sive cover plus ad­ven­ture pack of $21.70 is $107.60, or $5 per day. “The go­ing rate for a night in a Bali hos­pi­tal is up­wards of $900. “Pay $5 per day (for the right in­sur­ance) or $900 per night?” These are some of the ac­tiv­i­ties and be­hav­iours Lisa says may lead to a travel in­sur­ance claim be­ing de­clined: Ex­ces­sive use of al­co­hol. Use of il­le­gal or il­licit drugs or mis­use of pre­scrip­tion drugs. Care­less­ness (leav­ing items unat­tended or un­pro­tected). Un­de­clared pre-ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions. Un­der­tak­ing an il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity. Un­der­tak­ing be­hav­iour con­sid­ered risky with­out the ap­pro­pri­ate in­sur­ance cover (such as ad­ven­ture sports or snow sports). Trav­el­ling to coun­tries that have a Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade (DFAT) do-not-travel warn­ing. Lodg­ing a claim for an item or event not cov­ered, for ex­am­ple stolen skis or golf clubs, which count as spe­cialty items on some poli­cies. Mo­tor­bike or scooter rid­ing with­out the nec­es­sary per­mits and li­cences (many poli­cies ex­clude rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle, moped or scooter). Not wear­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing or equip­ment for an ac­tiv­ity: such as not wear­ing a hel­met on a mo­tor­bike. Not all des­ti­na­tions were in­cluded on the pol­icy (stopovers need to be in­cluded as a des­ti­na­tion on the pol­icy). Mak­ing a claim for an event that took place af­ter the pol­icy ex­pired. Claims not made within 30 days of re­turn­ing to Australia. Claims on poli­cies can be de­nied if trav­ellers can’t pro­duce: Sup­port­ing pa­per­work such as po­lice re­ports and re­ceipts. Ev­i­dence of a fi­nan­cial loss. Proof of own­er­ship. Lisa says choos­ing the right travel in­sur­ance re­quires some thought and re­search. Be hon­est, de­clare mental health and pre-ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions, in­clud­ing preg­nancy. It may cost more but trav­ellers will pay even more if as­sis­tance is needed over­seas. Think about the ac­tiv­i­ties and the style of hol­i­day you’ll un­der­take and in­vest in the right prod­uct and level of cover. Don’t be swayed by price, be­cause if the right pol­icy isn’t bought or if it doesn’t cover the trav­eller for their spe­cific trip needs, it’s the same as not hav­ing in­sur­ance – only more ex­pen­sive. “I know re­search­ing travel in­sur­ance – any in­sur­ance for that mat­ter – can be time-con­sum­ing. Prod­uct Dis­clo­sure State­ments can be long and com­plex, but it would be re­miss not to do this im­por­tant re­search,” Lisa says. “To en­cour­age re­search and aware­ness of pol­icy in­clu­sions and ex­clu­sions, in­sur­ers are de­sign­ing their web­sites and prod­ucts to be straight­for­ward and easy to un­der­stand. “Com­par­i­son ta­bles are vis­ual and sim­ple to read, as are add-ons avail­able for high-risk ac­tiv­i­ties. “In­sur­ers want peo­ple to travel with the right cover for their trip. “Travel in­sur­ance isn’t good enough. Only the right travel in­sur­ance is good enough.” To stay bet­ter in­formed, visit www.un­der­standin­sur­ance.com.au and www.smart­trav­eller.com.au.

PHOTO: MAX-KEGFIRE

HOL­I­DAYS AT FULL THROT­TLE: Trav­el­ling can be a risky busi­ness so make sure you have the right travel in­sur­ance.

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