Ever had an unfortunate incident during your travels, only to find later that your insurance claim was unsuccessful because you were not adequately prepared? From putting high-value items, like laptops and jewellery, in your check-in luggage, to leaving your belongings unattended, a leading online travel insurer says it is essential that Aussies fully understand their travel policy, in order to know whether they are able to make a claim on costly holiday mistakes.
“Holidaying should be a chance to unwind, truly relax, and discover the beauty of different languages and cultures. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong and spoil your travels, and then on top of that, discover that your travel insurance claim isn’t successful because you failed to disclose to your policy holder essential information about yourself," said Jonathan Etkind, spokesperson at online travel insurer InsureandGo.
"This could be anything from not disclosing any pre-existing medical conditions, to partaking in activities that breach your insurance policy conditions."
“Although travel insurance is both important and necessary when travelling, before purchasing just any policy, travellers need to think about where they are going, what they will be doing at their destination, and what they are likely to need cover for."
1. Golden rule: Accompany your belongings at all times. As long as you carry your belongings with you, or they are locked in a safe at your accommodation, you can be reimbursed by your policy for items that are lost, stolen, or damaged during your trip. However, any luggage left unattended or unsecured in a public place could nullify a travel insurance claim. This includes any personal belongings you leave with someone who is not travelling with you for more than 50 per cent of your trip. It also applies to any personal belongings that you accidentally left in your hotel room, after you checked out.
2. Have proof of ownership. Whether it is receipts for expenses, itineraries or travel contracts, the key thing is to ensure you keep a copy of anything that will verify that your lost, stolen or damaged possessions are yours. You don’t need to carry copies of these original documents on you while you travel, but they will provide the proof of ownership you need to process a travel insurance claim once you return home.
3. High-value items often need additional cover. Never assume that valuable items such as phones, laptops, cameras and jewellery will be automatically covered by your insurer. In fact, they are often excluded from standard or basic travel insurance policies, or their cover is capped at just a few hundred dollars. However, each insurer has a maximum benefit or limit they will pay for high-value items, and some have the option of customising the sub-limit on each individual item. For instance, InsureandGo offers a Gold policy with cover of up to $8000 for lost or damaged personal belongings, or a Silver policy with up to $6000 in cover. Even then, if you are travelling with an extremely valuable item, such as a $10,000 engagement ring, you might want to consider insuring it separately under a separate policy.
4. Record the IMEI number of your mobile phone. Your travel insurance generally will not cover you for any claim relating to a lost, stolen or damaged mobile device if you are unable to supply the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number – a 15- or 17-digit unique number found within the settings of mobile devices, and used to identify them. You will also need to provide proof that you have blocked this number by an Australian telecommunications provider, to be eligible for a claim. When blocked, your device is inoperable, preventing its misuse and minimising call costs to you if it is being operated by another user.
5. Most self-inflicted injuries and illnesses from high-risk activities won’t be covered. If you knowingly put yourself in danger while travelling, you run the risk of having your cover invalidated if an incident occurs. In general, reckless activities will not be covered by your travel insurer. Likewise, if you ignore official advice by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Smartraveller website, and suffer an incident, your claim could be invalid. For instance, if you caught a tropical disease and did not get the recommended vaccinations, your claim for medical services may be denied.
6. You cannot make a cancellation claim because of the illness of a close relative or friend – unless they weren’t ill before you purchased your policy. If you want to cancel your trip because of the illness of a close relative or travel companion, you won’t be covered if they were ill, or they were aware of an existing medical condition, when you purchased your policy. It's also important to note that some providers may not provide coverage for close relatives that aren't Australian residents, who are present in Australia at the time the illness occurs.
7. Most travel delay cover only applies to flights. A standard insurance policy will only tend to cover flight delays, not delays with other modes of transport. The reimbursable costs in relation to flight delays will include accommodation and meals that you had to pay for, as a result of the delay. For instance, cruise delays are only covered when you take out a cruise travel policy. With InsureandGo, cruise-goers can purchase a tailored cruise travel insurance policy that will cover them for any delays on their trip.
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