Travel insurance a must to avoid horror holidays

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If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

This was made crystal clear after New Zealand woman Amanda Sesio was hit with a medical bill of almost $300,000 after coming down with pneumococcal pneumonia in the US last month. Her condition deteriorated and she was placed on life support.

While you would have to have a heart of stone not to feel sorry for her, everyone knows the US health system is a bit of a basket case and travelling without insurance seems irresponsible in the extreme.

Read: The three biggest travel concerns for Australians

In another instance, an acquaintance came down with appendicitis in the US when he met up with his parents holidaying there. The hospital was going to charge $24,000 to save him, but he was able to negotiate the bill down to $12,000 by agreeing to leave the hospital within 24 hours. 

All good examples of why travel insurance is vital to your planning, not just an add on.

Read: What would make you give up your airline seat

Qantas extends connection times

In recognition of the continuing shemozzle that is Qantas at the moment, the airline has decided to increase its minimum for outbound international connections from 60 minutes to 90 minutes to improve the odds your baggage goes to the same place you do. 

“While there are lots of good reasons why, the simple fact is our operational performance hasn’t been up to the standard our customers are used to, or that we expect of ourselves,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.

No kidding.

The airline will notify customers and agents with existing bookings who are affected by the change and move them to an earlier flight at no extra cost.

And while Qantas has hired more than 1500 people since April, the airline’s service continues to suffer due to staff falling ill with COVID. Sick leave is tracking 50 per cent higher than usual, according to travelweekly.com.au.   

Read: Top tips to avoid airport chaos

Qantas also faces further industrial action, with staff at baggage handling provider Dnata voting to consider industrial action.

Dnata is one of the companies Qantas outsourced its baggage handling to after illegally sacking staff during the pandemic.

They’re back

Plane spotters rejoice! In a further sign the travel industry is getting back on its feet, Emirates is returning its A380 aircraft on its Perth-Dubai route, offering up to 500 seats daily.

Emirates has been servicing the route for 20 years, carrying an estimated six million passengers during that time.

Have you heard any horror stories of people travelling without insurance? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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Written by Jan Fisher

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'.

One Comment

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  1. Not so much as travelling without insurance, but like many others, I have been stung traveling with insurance as Insurance Companies squirm an worm their way out of any sort of payout.

    When COVID hit, we had 12 months of flights booked. The insurers claimed some obscure clause in the agreement that let them off putting the cover on hold to a future date or refunding it. While hotels and airlines either refunded or let us hold bookings for the future, not the insurers. Their risk managers and actuaries would have built in this risk (unless they were useless), but the insurers had got so used to it being paid into profit enhancement, when they should have used it to reimburse travelers from corporate profits, they simply defaulted.

    I reverted back to my project management days before retirement and now pay $500 per trip as our own premium into an account that will compensate us if we have a need to claim. Since we’ve been back travelling, we’ve already got 30K in the account. it’ll be close to 40K before the end of the year!

    That combined with careful travel planning and personal safety steps, plus an active cleansing regime everywhere we go has made our risk minimal. We are careful where and what we eat, where we hang out and minimize our exposure to risk at each step of our journeys. We had been moving to self cover before COVID but after the insurers refused to refund premiums for flights that would not happen, took things into our own hands.

    We are not risk averse people; we just take sound steps to minimize our risk so we still enjoy our travel experiences. Since a disastrous trip many years before COVID, we’ve gone to many places renown for people getting illnesses, robbed, delayed and have yet to be in a position where we’ve had to claim even once. We used to take insurance as well as managing our risk, but now our ‘insurance’, is $500 each into our account, each trip.

    Our GP is part of our preparation for any trip as is Smartraveller. People tell us we are too well prepared or may look strangely at us traveling with an emergency carry-on bag, wearing masks, sanitizing our seats on plans or sanitizing our hotel rooms with our portable sanitizing kit, but we find a few minutes of effort means a lot of time relaxing and few illnesses or other disrupting incidents. Knowing if our bags go AWOL, we are still confident we can get by for around 10-days.

    We travel with an emergency plan we update for each trip. We have a standing sheet with how to get medical assistance, what to do if we run foul of local law, processes to deal with money problems and passports when we’re overseas, a process for dealing with lost or damaged property and what to do if either of us gets lost or ill, or even worse dies.

    We have standing checklist and it doesn’t take long to update it for each trip, but sure gives us peace of mind. If we ever stop travelling, the travel emergency bucket will be ours to do what we like with. The insurers will have missed out on it.

    We’re away at short notice at present, but updated an existing plan covering us for the trip. It had all contact numbers for every step of the journey and took less than an hour, to update, but when a flight was delayed, it was an hour well spent. When others (who had probably planned their trip in advance) were panicking, we were relaxed and confident we had a plan. Our carry-on bag would have got us through several days, without any worries.

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