Travel Insurance for Australians Overseas
Read our tips regarding Travel Insurance for Australians Overseas here:
Quite recently though, domestic travel has been picking up and several insurers are offering policies again. Just make sure you know you won’t receive any coverage for coronavirus-related claims for domestic travel insurance.
Are you currently stuck somewhere overseas due to travel restrictions? If you’re Australian and are currently living abroad, your travel insurance policy could be able to assist you with that situation.
Here’s some steps we recommend taking:
- Get in touch with your insurer and find out if you can possibly extend your cover while you’re living away from home in another country. You’ll most likely be denied, but it’s better to take a shot at it than not at all, only if your policy hasn’t expired yet.
- Question your insurer about what you’re currently covered for. You might not find that you’re covered for coronavirus-related claims but you may be covered for a range of other medical costs, or your personal belongings.
- If your travel insurance policy won’t cover you, maybe consider looking into any local insurance alternatives like travel insurance that’s based in the country you’re currently in, or even some type of health insurance.
The cover you receive may not be ideal but at the very least, you’ll receive some form of beneficial cover.
When should I take out this form of cover?
- If you forgot to buy insurance and are already overseas.
- Your policy has expired and you’re already overseas.
- Extending your policy has been denied by your insurer.
- You are an Australian expat who requires cover for short trips and currently lives overseas.
The normal conditions that need to be met when obtaining travel insurance while abroad.
Though there are many insurance providers who don’t offer this type of cover, there are respected brands who do offer protection to Australians who are already abroad. As mentioned above, you will need to be an Australian resident in order to take out cover overseas. Some important points to consider when looking at cover if already overseas include: Although this type of cover isn’t offered by many insurance providers, you will find that there are some well-known brands who can offer cover for Australians that’re currently abroad. As discussed previously, you must be an Australian resident if you’re looking to take out cover overseas. Some key point you’ll want to consider when contemplating cover while overseas involves:
- Need to have a return trip planned. In most cases, your insurer will allow you to purchase their policy on the basis that you have a return flight all sorted to Australia, with the end of the journey being Australia.
- Same level of cover. For most overseas policies, they will provide cover that is seemingly identical to a policy which is bought under normal circumstances, i.e. before you leave for your trip. All the general features and benefits like cancellation fees, emergency medical expenses and lost luggage, will be provided.
- When can we expect the cover to become active? Depending on your insurance provider, there could be a waiting period prior to your cover taking effect before you’re covered for claims that relate to illness or injury. This means that any illness or injury that occurs during the waiting period will not be covered until the point of completion, of that waiting period. For example, if an insurance provider had a waiting period of two days, from the start date of that policy and the next two days, you wouldn’t be covered for any cancellations, medical or trip interference expenses related to illness or injury in the 2-day waiting period.
- Do you meet the age limit? You should probably make sure that you meet the age limit before you apply for insurance as the majority of policies do have age limits quite like the ones you would see in a travel insurance policy, with cover that isn’t necessarily available to those over the age of 69.
- Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions insurers should know about? You could be unable to make a claim if you currently have a pre-existing medical condition that isn’t covered automatically. The reason being, additional documentation about your medical past and necessary medical tests could be requested by your insurance company in order to give you the cover you’re looking for.
- When is the policy finalized? Once your cover has been applied for, your insurer should send you confirmation of this agreement via email with your certificate of insurance along with the policy details. Having that information in a safe and accessible place will be important in the future if you’re needing to refer to it when it comes to making a claim or if you need to get in touch with the insurer’s emergency assistance team if a situation deems it necessary.
- What is the longest period of cover that I can apply for? The longest period of cover you can buy is for 12 months. If you’re looking to extend your policy, you’ll have to get in touch with your insurance company and ask them for an extension. This is generally done within a week of your policy expiring.
If I’m overseas, is it possible to get full coverage?
Yes, it’s possible. Travel insurance policies for those already overseas will normally grant you the same type of cover found on most plans. Where they differentiate is probably within eligibility requirements. However, your overseas policy will still give you cover for:
- Overseas hospital expenses and medical assistance. One of the key services given to those overseas is medical assistance, which will include costs for ambulances fees, medical costs and medical repatriation to Australia if necessary.
- Amendment or cancellation to your trip. Cover can be given for cancellation fees or lost deposits when unforeseen situations cause you cut short or cancel your trip. For example, if you become extremely ill and aren’t allow to travel, non-refundable costs from your accommodation and pre-paid travel will be completely covered by your insurance policy.
- If a close family member passes away which forces you to return home, the expenses related to cancelling/cutting short and resuming your trip will be covered for by your insurance policy. A hospital cash allowance is also available for those who’re hospitalized for over 48 hours consecutively whilst overseas. If you have sustained an injury during your trip which causes you to die, the death benefit will be payable for you.
- Damage, loss or theft of your belongings. If your personal belongings or luggage are damaged, lost or stolen during your travel, the overseas travel insurance policy you have will cover the expenses for replacements or repair. If a transport provider has delayed your luggage for an unreasonable amount of time, cover is available to you for essentials such as toiletries or clothing.
- If your traveller’s cheques, travel documents or passports are stolen or lost during your travel, your overseas travel insurance policy will cover the costs for replacements. Likewise, if you are victimized by credit card fraud or have your cash stolen from you, you’ll be reimbursed for any of those losses.
- Other benefits. Other features and benefits of overseas travel insurance includes personal liability, rental vehicle excess, disruption of journey, and alternative transport expenses should you need transport for a pre-arranged event (e.g. a work conference or wedding).
- Pre-existing conditions. The majority of insurers are unlikely to give you cover for any pre-existing conditions you had prior to purchasing your insurance policy.
If I’m already overseas and don’t plan on returning home, can I get travel insurance?
If you’re currently or planning to live overseas for a long period of time, we’d advise you to consider taking out travel insurance at some point so you can explore more of the area you’re living in. However, if you’re taking out cover with an insurance provider from Australia, you are required to finish your trip in Australia. So if you’re living overseas and aren’t necessarily planning to return home any time soon, maybe think about taking out cover with an international insurance provider. There are a few insurers out there who’ll offer expat travel insurance to any Australian passport holder and if you’re looking to make one-way trips to certain place or round trips within the country you’ll be living in, these international insurance providers are probably the better choice for you.
What are some alternatives to travel insurance if I’m already overseas? The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement might cover you
If you’re an expat Australian living within a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) with Australia, you could be inclined to forget about travel insurance and bet on RHCA health cover instead. Under the RHCA, you’ll gain access to a range of subsidised medicines and health services that’re available to citizens of those respective countries. Some of these countries will include, The UK, Sweden, New Zealand, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Malta, Norway, Slovenia, Finland and Belgium. However, the problem with RHCA cover is that the cover it provides is seemingly limited and only includes basic medical services and essential treatments which can only be claimed under specific circumstances. Services that aren’t covered by the RHCA are as follows:
- Non-essential treatments
- Ambulance cover
- Dental and other ancillary services
- Para medical services
- Medical evacuation to your home country
- Treatment as a private patient in a private or public hospital
- Elective surgery
- Treatment that has been prearranged before your arrival.
Therefore, it’s probably smart to take out private travel insurance as opposed to leaning on the RHCA to provide as you want to ensure that you’re fully covered when travelling overseas.
What do I need to know about taking out travel insurance policies with overseas providers?
As you would with a normal insurance policy, make sure you’re looking at these two main factors when it comes to deciding on your international travel insurance;
- The insurer – Are they well-respected and know for their services? If you’re wanting to know more about an insurer you’re interested in, if you simply visit their website you should take a look at how long they’ve been a business, their history or who underwrites their insurance policies etc. There’re also insurance comparison websites out there paired along with discussion forums you can use to see the company’s reputation as well as what they have to offer you compared to other insurers. With a few quick searches on the internet you should be able to find out how they are with complaint handling procedures, the number of claims that’ve been paid and how the public rates their customer service through reviews etc.
- The policy – Does it have the level of cover you’re looking for? Insurers will tend to offer you a basic, mid-range and extensive cover option, so ensure you’ve considered a policy that covers all your relevant needs in relation to your own circumstances. Have you thought about the policy’s flexibility? Are you allowed to add or remove portions of your insurance policy to conform it to your personal needs? Are they any exclusions you need to be aware of and are they acceptable, without hindering the level of cover you have? Is repatriation to the country you live included in the policy? What benefits do I have as an individual, and do they meet my needs?
All of the above need to be considered when making your decision and if either the insurer or policy doesn’t meet your required standard, you should opt to search for another insurance policy/provider.
If you’re already overseas, here are some tips for comparing travel insurance policies
If you’re wanting to get the best out of your travel insurance policy, there’s a few tips that you need to consider to ensure you get the cover you need at a price that is suitable to your situation:
- Is your desired destination covered by your insurance policy? The first step is to decide on where you’re essentially travelling to. Once decided, figure out if your policy gives cover for your desired location. Or would the situation be better if I chose to go with a worldwide plan?
- Will I be covered for my activities? You’ll want to think about the activities and experiences you’ll be involved in when you’re travelling. Will it be a chilled-out experience lounging by the pool for the majority of the time or will you be involved in high-risk activities like sky-diving or bungy jumping? There are some policies out there that will exclude cover for particular activities, so check to make sure you know what activities or experiences you are, or aren’t covered for.
- Will medical repatriation to Australia be covered? If you’re taking out travel insurance while you’re overseas, it’s vital to look for a policy that covers the costs of medical repatriation to Australia if the situation requires it. In the instance of an accident or sickness your insurance provider will decide with local medical authorities whether or not you need to return home to Australia.
- What will my excess be? If you’re applying for an already overseas policy, a few insurers may add an increased excess to the policy, so be on the look out for that.
- How long will my waiting period be? The average waiting period insurers give will roughly be 7 days before your cover can begin.
- Need to come back to Australia? Ensure you’ve examined the fine print of your policy to make sure you know whether or not you need to return home in order to make a claim and be covered. There’re some policies that will require this, but there’s also others that won’t require it.
- Do I need to be careful with the fine print? Like most insurance policies, it’s very important that you know the details of the product disclosure statement in order to understand your policy. This’ll grant you a generic idea of your policy’s features, benefits, limits and exclusions on other policies, which’ll give you a better picture about which policy is more suitable for you.
- How do the policy benefits and features add up? Like the majority of policies, it’s essential to check what features you’re covered for according to your policy and the total amount that’ll be paid if you were to make a claim.
- Does your family need cover? Family cover is available to you by most insurers so that you’re able to provide coverage not only for yourself but your children and partner also, all under a single policy. Also, for any coverage for dependants under your family policy, they will be free of charge as long as they’re under 21 years of age.
- Does the quality of cover match the price? Although your first response might be to go for the most affordable option, this isn’t necessarily always the best decision. There’s no point int being trapped with a less-than-average policy that won’t give you the cover you need. Generally, low cost cover results in lower benefit levels and higher excess charges.
Take your time with this decision, explore multiple insurers and policies to compare and gain a better picture of what your ideal policy may look like. Cheap prices are great but don’t allow that lone factor to be the driver of your final decision, it’ll be worth your while to have a look at what’s covered under each policy you’re considering.
If I’m still travelling overseas, can I extend my policy?
Yes, you can. You’ll find that most insurers will let you extend your period of cover, however the request to extend your policy will need to be made within a certain time period before your policy expires. For example, there are policies that will only let you extend your period of cover a week before your policy expires. The normal process in regards to extending your period of cover is as follows:
- Email your insurance provider directly or call the provider’s call centre.
- Your insurance provider will examine your reasoning for wanting to extend your period of cover and give you a quote
- Pay the fees for extending your period of cover either on the phone or online
Yes, its that simple.
When am I not allowed to extend my cover?
- For any pre-existing conditions that aren’t already known and agreed upon by the insurer
- For any medical conditions you were subject to within the first period of cover on your previous policy
- If your insurer has not been notified of any potential events that have led to a claim under your previous policy
- If you do not sit within the age limits required to apply for an extension by rule of your insurance policy