Eight ways you can void your travel insurance

They say if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel, so what happens if you buy insurance, go to claim, and they knock you back?

There could be few more stressful situations than being half a world away from home and you discover the insurance you were relying on to fix a sticky situation was no longer available.

Here are some ways you could accidentally void your insurance.

Unattended baggage

Losing your bags, or having them stolen or damaged, is usually covered by insurance. However, if you get sloppy with where you leave it, you could be in trouble. Insurance companies take a dim view of leaving valuables with a new travelling friend and then losing them or putting luggage outside a secured area such as your accommodation.

Certainly don’t leave luggage unattended at the airport or on public transport. As well as being at risk of losing it and your insurance coverage, you may have the local equivalent of a SWAT team descend upon you.

Lying about pre-existing medical conditions

We get it, you haven’t had a flare-up of your heart condition for years, surely the insurance company don’t need to know about that?

Let me assure they absolutely do. Insurance companies hate paying out money, and generally don’t do it without at least a cursory investigation. If they find you have been lying, you will not get your money.

It’s especially easy for them with medical conditions.

For example, you go to the hospital with a racing heart and have to tell them about your history of heart disease so you can be treated properly. The insurance company will need that medical report to pay you out, but there it is in black and white that you have been lying to them. Game over. 

Being an idiot

Some sort of sensible tap gets turned off when you are travelling. You eat food from dodgy roadside stalls, try your hand at rifle shooting or rock climbing. 

Of course, one of the joys of travelling is trying new things, but don’t be an idiot about it.

Engaging in reckless behaviour will certainly void your insurance.

It’s also a good idea to check your fine print. Some policies have clauses for specific issues, such as not wearing a helmet. Have a scooter bingle in Bali while feeling the breeze in your hair and you may be in trouble.

Naturally, your insurance will also not cover you if you have broken the law.

Being an idiot on the road

If you think you can just hand over some cash for a rental and go driving in another country, think again.

Make sure you have the correct licence, know the road rules and thoroughly check out your rental agreement. If you void your rental agreement, especially in the case of an accident, your travel insurance may almost always also be voided.

Being a drunk idiot

Drinking and holidays often go hand in hand, but it’s not a marriage made in heaven for insurers. If you injure yourself while under the influence, even at low levels, your insurance company will not pay out.

No-one is saying don’t enjoy yourself, but maybe don’t combine late-night mountain hikes and a bottle of schnapps.

Super sporty

Thrillseekers should check their policies before heading off overseas.

Not surprisingly, insurance companies are not keen on you putting your body in danger.

Most basic policies certainly don’t cover activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping or skiing. Probably not even scuba diving, especially if you are not part of an accredited tour with safety regulations.

If you plan on having an adrenalin rush or two on holiday, shop around to have it covered. If you are travelling as part of a sporting group for your risky activity, you may be able to get it covered under group insurance for a considerable discount instead of paying individually.

Don’t go there

Before you fly, check out the government travel advice website smartraveller. If you travel to a destination against their advice and you get into trouble, you will probably not be covered by insurance.

However, it could be a line call in case of sudden flare-ups. Take New Caledonia for example. Beautiful sub-tropical island one day, a political hotspot with added arson the next.

Change of plans

If you buy insurance for a trip, then alter your plans, expect not to be covered. Policies are quite clear about what they do and do not cover, especially dates and destinations. Don’t think you can shift your plans around and your insurance will mysteriously follow you. It doesn’t work like that.

And choose a policy that covers every country you go to. Suddenly going to a country next to a war zone may sound like a bit of an adventure, but your insurance will not cover you.

Have you ever had your insurance knocked back? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: What are the best travel gadgets for 2024?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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