According to former Australian ambassador and head of the consular service Ian Kemish, the number of Australians travelling hasn’t reached half the rate recorded in pre-pandemic 2019, but the number of travellers turning to the consular network for help in the last few months has been up by between 5% and 15%.
“The case numbers have been particularly high in popular regional destinations such as Fiji, Indonesia and Thailand,” Kemish wrote in The Guardian.
“This partly reflects the reality that the world is an unpredictable place right now.”
But Kemish says many Australian travellers are not living up to their side of the bargain, with at least one in six Australians travelling overseas not taking out travel insurance “even now”.
“This is insane,” he said.
The most important reason for taking out insurance is not to protect our belongings or ensure we’re covered if our flights are cancelled, it’s to cover injury, illness and even death, Kemish wrote.
“Each year some Australians are shocked to learn that their government cannot just step in and cover the costs of their hospitalisation and repatriation when they or their loved ones meet with serious misfortune.”
This expectation ”raises interesting questions about where personal responsibility begins and ends when we leave our shores,” he said.
“When we are at home in Australia we don’t expect our government to step in and help financially with burial costs when a loved one dies, to cover ongoing or elective medical costs, fix our legal problems or even sort out our transport arrangements when things go wrong. But this is exactly what some Australians expect overseas.”
“But frankly, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”
Ian Kemish’s book ‘The Consul: an insider account from Australia’s diplomatic frontline’ is published by UQP.
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