Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - TRAVEL TRENDS - LISA MAYOH

Amid in­dus­try calls for travel in­surance to be­come com­pul­sory, new re­search has shown the dan­gers of in­surance be­ing voided due to risky be­hav­iour. As Schoolies en­ters its se­cond week, new fig­ures show that three in four school leavers will en­gage in “risky be­hav­iour”, such as drink driv­ing, that would void any travel in­surance. An­other one in five will go to places like South­east Asia with­out any in­surance at all, prompt­ing se­ri­ous warn­ings for young trav­ellers – and their un­sus­pect­ing par­ents.

The re­search from Smar­trav­eller and Un­der­stand In­surance has stunned hol­i­day­mak­ers, who can be for­given for think­ing that sim­ply hav­ing in­surance is enough – in fact, com­ply­ing with con­di­tions and meet­ing cov­er­age cri­te­ria is crit­i­cal to any claim be­ing ful­filled.

Anna Lees, man­ager of Hel­loworld Morn­ing­ton Cruise and Travel in Vic­to­ria, said the statis­tics were “scary” and en­cour­aged par­ents to sit their chil­dren down to talk about the se­ri­ous con­cerns of void­ing in­surance, or worse still, trav­el­ling with­out it.

“I wouldn’t ever travel any­where with­out it,” she told Es­cape.

“I know when you are younger and more ad­ven­tur­ous it’s hard to think of the con­se­quences, but I think when they are in a for­eign coun­try, they have to re­alise it’s not the same as end­ing up in emer­gency in your lo­cal hos­pi­tal.

“My old catch­phrase grow­ing up was – if you can’t af­ford in­surance, don’t travel.”

Anna said manda­tory travel in­surance bought with your ticket would be a ben­e­fi­cial in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment.

“You see all th­ese sto­ries about things that have hap­pened and they are try­ing to raise funds to get back to Aus­tralia be­cause they didn’t have the ad­e­quate cover,” she said. “Par­ents should be sit­ting their kids down and ex­plain­ing how im­por­tant it is.

“We are very pro in­surance in here – it’s part of the con­ver­sa­tion from start to fin­ish.”

Ac­cord­ing to the 2018 SureSave Travel In­surance In­dex, some 73 per cent of trav­ellers said they wouldn’t leave the coun­try with­out tak­ing out travel in­surance – a 10 per cent in­crease on six years ago.

Cover-More’s Mike Stein said unin­sured, in­jured trav­ellers could drain a coun­try of mil­lions of dol­lars in med­i­cal ex­penses, of­ten in coun­tries where fi­nances are scarce. Re­cently speak­ing to travel agents at the Rev­o­lu­tion Road­show in Syd­ney, he said it was the doc­tors, nurses and health staff who were af­fected when a trav­eller couldn’t pay their bills, and said a so­lu­tion was to make travel in­surance com­pul­sory.

Un­der­stand In­surance’s Lisa Kable said over­seas des­ti­na­tions like Bali at­tracted more than 10,000 teens last year – the same In­done­sian is­land that is one of the top four des­ti­na­tions for Aus­tralian deaths over­seas.

“Thou­sands of teenagers are on their way to pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions in South­east Asia, in­clud­ing Bali and Thai­land,” Lisa said.

“Many will overindulge in al­co­hol. Some may take il­licit drugs. And many will ride a mo­tor­bike or scooter or take part in an ad­ven­ture sport or ac­tiv­ity.”

She said the in­surance in­dus­try and the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment’s Smar­trav­eller pro­gram were con­cerned about the num­ber of young Aussies who will be in­jured over­seas – with­out in­surance – dur­ing this Schoolies break, which ends on De­cem­ber 8.

“They should un­der­stand they may not be cov­ered by their in­surance if they make a claim for an event caused by al­co­hol, drugs, use of a mo­tor­bike or fail­ing to de­clare a pre­ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion.”

An­other re­cent sur­vey of 1000 Aus­tralian adults for In­sure­andGo, found that nearly half of Aussies ad­mit­ted they took more risks while on Schoolies trips than on any other hol­i­day. Re­sults re­vealed that drink­ing too much was the most com­mon risk, while 22 per cent left a drink un­guarded at a bar, 21 per cent took part in an ad­ven­tur­ous ac­tiv­ity or rode a ve­hi­cle af­ter drink­ing, and 19 per cent of re­spon­dents went swim­ming af­ter drink­ing heav­ily.

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