While overseas travel can be an exciting prospect, there can be situations where things may go wrong, and travellers could find themselves faced with a medical emergency, or finding the funds to replace lost luggage, or having to make an urgent trip home.
Travel Insurance is a way to manage your risk in terms of your travel plans.
Travel insurance will normally provide the following protection:
- Cancellation and loss of deposits
- Medical treatment costs
- Costs for returning home in certain emergencies
- Loss of luggage and personal items
- Personal liability, excluding deliberate acts and use of motor vehicles.
Travel insurance tips
- Purchase insurance before you leave home. It's unlikely you'll get insurance if you have already left the country.
- If you require cancellation cover, you need to purchase your travel insurance when you book and pay for your tickets.
- Keep the details of your insurance emergency assistance provider with you when travelling. In the event of an emergency you may need to contact them for emergency medical treatment or advice on other travel emergencies.
- Your travel insurance policy will have some exclusions. General travel insurance policies won't cover loss of personal items which are left unattended, or the insolvency of a service provider such as an airline. Your policy may not cover you for losses due to acts of terrorism.
- Declare any pre-existing medical conditions, not only for yourself, but close relatives back home.
- Winter sports. Skiing or snowboarding activities need to be advised to your insurer when taking out insurance as some policies may not cover you for this.
- Hazardous pursuits such as scuba diving, bungy-jumping, hang-gliding, water skiing and motorcycling may not normally be covered, however, you should discuss this with your insurer when purchasing the insurance policy.
- Motor vehicle liability (and damage to the hire car). It is most important that you purchase comprehensive Motor Insurance for the rental car from the rental car company in the country you are hiring the car in. Most travel insurance policies do not provide liability cover for the renting of a vehicle in another country. You should check with your insurer that cover is available for any excess or deductible that may apply to the insurance you purchase with the rental car company.
- High valued items. Advise your insurer that you are going to be taking or purchasing high valued items for example cameras and jewellery on your holiday.
- High risk countries. Talk to your insurer about your intention to travel to countries that may have a high-risk travel advisory status. Some of these countries may have security and health issues. To obtain an up to date status report see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade safe travel website: www.safetravel.govt.nz
Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Safe Travel site. https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
Frequently Asked Questions about Travel Insurance
What if I get sick while I'm travelling?
In New Zealand, hospitals are funded through taxes. This means that if you get injured or sick, you do not have to pay to be treated. However many countries do not have free hospital care. This means that if you break your leg in the United States, or get food poisoning in Ethiopia, you could end up with thousands of dollars of medical bills.
For example, take the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak. A few US aid workers contracted Ebola while treating people in West Africa. They received some treatment in Africa; however they were airlifted back to the US in quarantined planes, to carefully quarantined hospital wards. If those aid workers did not have travel insurance, then they could have to pay for their treatment in Africa, and their private flight back to the US.
Am I covered for pre-existing conditions or extreme sport?
Travel insurance usually doesn't cover pre-existing conditions. This means things like Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, Asthma, Colitis, or any other medical condition which you had before travelling. If you have a pre-existing condition, it would be worth talking to your doctor about these things before you travel.
Travel insurance usually doesn't cover extreme sports either - check with your insurance provider if you want to check what things they will cover.
What happens if I change my travel plans?
If you change your travel plans then tell your insurance company right away. Whether you change your destination, or decide to stay for longer, it is important that you tell them so that your insurance policy does not become invalid. It might mean you have to pay a little bit extra, but you will need to if you want to stay covered.