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Everything you need to know about post-pandemic travel insurance

As Aussies navigate a changed travel landscape the need for travel insurance can’t be understated. Travel insurance expert Natalie Ball explains what you need to know about your cover post-pandemic. 


It’s not been a smooth road to recovery when it comes to travel. Travellers can still face flight cancellations, delays, lost baggage, airport chaos, catching Covid just before or while you’re away and the usual suspects of hazardous weather and unexpected events.



Natalie Ball, director of travel Insurance site shares her insight into what travellers need to know and do before choosing a travel insurer.


Am I covered for Covid on a Domestic/International cruise?   

Travel insurance when cruising - whether in domestic or international waters - is a must.


“Once you’re out on the water, you’re no longer covered by Medicare or your private health fund, even when sailing between Australian ports,” said Ball.  


“That means that any medical expenses you incur are now at your own cost. It’s incredibly important to ensure you are covered by travel insurance when cruising.” 


While most cruise ships have their own medical facilities, a basic consultation can cost far more than on land. And should you require more urgent medical care, the price to get you to the closest hospital is eye watering. 


“You really can’t underestimate how crucial it is to take out travel insurance, even if you’re only hours away from home,” said Ball.  


Remember, you may be required to purchase a ‘cruise’ add-on to be covered.  


You MUST know and meet the entry requirements of your destination  

"Rules of entry have changed a lot throughout the pandemic” advises Ball. 


“Travellers should read up on the latest regulations to prepare properly before departure. Neglecting to do so may have you barred from entry or even result in a fine.  Failing to abide by entry regulation and suffering subsequent losses is not covered by travel insurance, so be sure to do your homework.” 


For the most accurate and up-to-date information, check your destination’s requirements with its official website or visit the Smart Traveller website. It may also be worth bringing a physical copy of your vaccine certificate with you. 


Am I covered if I catch Covid and need to cancel my trip?   

Catching Covid before a long-awaited holiday is an obvious concern for travellers right now.  


While a rising number of travel insurers now provide medical cover for Covid, a few will also cover your expenses should you catch it and need to cancel or amend your trip. 


“Some insurers such as Allianz, Covermore, Fastcover and Nib Travel Insurance, do provide cancellation cover should you contract Covid at home or abroad. However, conditions apply. For instance, some policies won’t cover cancellations if you test positive to COVID-19 within 21 days of the policy purchase date. And you may not be covered for cancellation due to a government issued lockdown. Cover may also be limited to a certain amount so make sure you’re aware of any relevant details.” 


Ball says that travellers should understand the terms of their insurance policy to ensure they’re aware of the conditions of their policy. 


“To avoid a nasty surprise, we always advise customers to check their Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to know what they are and importantly, what they aren’t covered for.” 


Travellers should also take note that they will most likely require a top tiered, comprehensive policy in order to be covered for cancellation and lost deposits due to Covid. Lower priced, basic policies may not provide cover for cancellation costs and will have lower cover limits.  


Am I covered if I catch Covid overseas and need to go to hospital?  

While policies may differ in terms of their coverage, the overwhelming number of travel insurance providers do now provide medical cover for those who catch Covid overseas and require medical treatment. Be sure to check prior to purchasing as a few insurers still exclude medical cover for Covid. 


“We are seeing a marked increase in insurers that do provide medical cover should you fall ill with Covid,” says Ball. “However, travellers still need to take the time to understand their policies and be clear on their coverage.” 


Am I covered if my flights are cancelled due to staff shortages?  

Ball notes that passengers affected by reduced flight capacities should first contact the airline directly before making a claim through their travel insurer. 


“In these instances, it should fall on the airline to compensate you as they haven’t provided you with the service you have paid for,” said Ball. 


“Make sure you’ve spoken to the airline about your refund or rebooking options before contacting your insurer.  Generally, cancellations due to technical, mechanical, and operational issues with the airline aren’t covered.” 

When delays and cancellations fall outside the airline’s control, travel insurance benefits will usually kick in. For instance, you would be covered if your flight was cancelled due to bad weather, natural disaster, a riot, strike or civil unrest.  


 Insurers and Covid cover 


The below insurers now offer travellers cover for medical treatment of Covid and in some instances, cancellation cover too. 


Take note of exclusions 

Travellers should also be aware that certain exclusions will apply to all travel insurance policies. For instance, ignoring government ‘Do Not Travel’ warnings or border closures will almost certainly void your cover. In this instance travellers may be eligible for refunds or credit notes from their travel provider.  


Ball also encourages people to declare any relevant pre-existing illnesses to their insurer. 


“As it’s been a while since many of us have travelled, it's important to disclose any recently diagnosed conditions or illnesses to your insurer. Failure to declare a relevant medical condition could leave you underinsured and therefore liable for tens or hundreds of thousands in medical costs should you require treatment” 


The sooner you buy, the better 

Finally, Ball advises that sooner is always better when it comes to purchasing travel insurance. 

“Buy travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your airfares and accommodation. You’ll have added peace of mind, along with a long list of benefits that will kick in almost straight away. In a post pandemic world, there’s really no excuse to go without it.” 


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Published: 4 October 2022

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