Travel insurance and medical cover

It is crucial that you get the right medical cover when travelling overseas.

Travel insurance and medical cover

It is crucial to obtain the right medical cover when travelling overseas, so make sure you understand how it works with your travel insurance.

If you become ill or injured while overseas, travel insurance can pay for some, or all, of the costs that accumulate when you receive medical treatment – provided to you either by a general practitioner or a hospital or clinic. Having the right medical cover as part of your travel insurance policy means that you can claim back the costs of your medical treatment up to your maximum cover amount.

Why is medical cover so important?
The costs of being treated for an illness or injury overseas can be substantial. The Australian Government recommends that all Australians purchase travel insurance with medical cover whenever they travel internationally. Keep in mind that both Medicare and your private health insurance may not cover any medical costs incurred outside of Australia.

Which medical cover do you need?
Your choice of medical cover will depend on your personal health, what type of holiday you are planning and how much safety and care you want your insurance to provide.

It is generally beneficial to consider whether you need cover for:

  • general medical treatments and surgical treatments
  • hospital treatments and cash benefits
  • ambulance expenses and other emergency medical expenses
  • repatriation or medical evacuation
  • pregnancy or childbirth complications
  • compensation for severe injury or death
  • accommodation and/or travel expenses if you cannot travel home for medical reasons or if you require someone to stay/travel with you due to medical necessity.

Some pre-existing medical conditions can preclude you from obtaining reimbursement for costs related to that condition while you are travelling. If you do have a pre-existing medical condition, try searching for a provider who is open to assessing all conditions or who offers competitive premiums for covering your condition.

Making a medical travel insurance claim
Claims processes will differ slightly from provider to provider. In general, however, you will need to provide documentation when making your claim. This can include:

  • medical certificates or statements outlining the treatment you received overseas and the costs involved
  • receipts to prove you have paid for the treatment
  • medical certificates for any pre-existing conditions you have.

There are some circumstances when you won’t be protected by your travel insurance medical cover. While you can still be treated for these incidents overseas, you usually won’t be able to claim back the costs of these treatments or services via your travel insurance. Some common examples can include:

  • search and rescue assistance
  • private hospital rooms (unless medically necessary)
  • any treatments you need due to an attempted suicide or an act of deliberate self-harm
  • any treatments you received that were not immediately and medically necessary
  • pregnancy or childbirth treatments, unless due to a diagnosed complication
  • any treatments you receive after a doctor has deemed you are fit to travel or return home.

Always make sure you read your Product Disclosure Statement and gain an understanding of what is excluded from your medical cover.

InsureandGo’s award-winning travel insurance offers 24-hour emergency assistance, unlimited overseas medical expenses cover and considers all pre-existing medical conditions easily online or over the phone.

Save 10 per cent off your next policy at or phone 1300 552 701.

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited, ABN 49 000 525 637, issues InsureandGo Travel Insurance (the insurance). Please read the combined product disclosure statement and financial services guide available at to decide if the insurance is right for you.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    9th Jul 2016
    I have always taken out travel insurance when travelling anywhere overseas. A few years ago, I travelled to Thailand (Phuket) and a guy travelling with a large Australian group let off a string of double happy crackers in an outside bar where I was drinking. One exploded in the air and blew my ear drum out. I had a local doctor look at it but returned to Australia for treatment. There was no refund on the doctors cost as it was lower than the excess on the policy. I thought that any treatment including an ear drum graft I had done in Australia after my return would be covered by the travel insurance since the injury had occurred overseas. It was not. Once I was back in Australia, Medicare and my private domestic health fund cover was responsible for the costs not the travel insurance policy. There was a significant gap to pay. However, I always recommend travellers take out travel insurance when going overseas.
    A few months ago a mate had an asthma attack (pre-existing diagnosed condition that was covered by his policy) was admitted to hospital in Tokyo for one night. The cost was about $Aus17,000 and luckily his travel insurance covered the lot. He had to show his credit card and also proof of travel insurance cover before they would treat him. He was not required to pay the bill but assume that if the bill remained unpaid after some time, they would try to bill his credit card. In the past, he had never taken travel insurance and he was lucky he never had an accident or sickness when travelling. In this instance, he only had to pay a $Aus100 excess on the claim and the travel insurance company paid the Tokyo hospital direct withing a few days of lodging his online claim with the documents required. Imagine the cost if you needed to be admitted to a Tokyo hospital for days or even weeks. The costs without travel insurance would be devastating.
    9th Jul 2016
    MOst insurance companies make it clear that medical costs are only covered for overseas treatment. Whilst that may also include repatriation by medi-vac, once in Australia Medicare and private health insurance takes over from the travel insurance.

    Travel insurance for travel in Australia usually covers things like hire care excess, cancellations, flight delays lost luggage and the like but not usually medical costs covered by medicate or private health insurance.
    Old Geezer
    9th Jul 2016
    I pay for a yearly travel insurance policy and then I can rent hire cars in Australia without paying their expensive insurance. It also covers me for prebooked accommodation etc if I can't make it due to accident or illness. I always think that the most likely thing to happen is to be delayed on the way to catch a plane.
    9th Jul 2016
    I have never taken out a travel insurance and will never do so. We don't realize that medical costs in most destinations are cheaper than here with a good choice available. I rather behave in a responsible way and ensure that I'm staying healthy, than paying for a travel insurance. Of course if you don't have that little financial cushion in case something happens, it may be a good idea to insure yourself for unforeseen risks.
    9th Jul 2016
    As they say, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel.
    10th Jul 2016
    To suggest never to take out overseas travel insurance is ludicrous. It is cheap compared with what costs you could be up for in an accident, illness and as a senior/older person, there is a higher risk of serious falls, heart attacks and strokes when travelling and not being close to medical help. In a serious accident, you may need a medical team flown in and a chartered medivac evacuation flight back to Australia costing tens of thousands of dollars. What about attacks carried out to steal money, camera etc where you are injured and require hospitalisation or at the least medical treatment . You only need to watch programs on TV where travellers have been injured and have no money or travel insurance to pay hospital and doctors bills and the Australian Embassy (providing you can get access to consulate support where you are travelling), have to help out. This includes the transport back to Australia of your body if you pass away overseas. All of these costs must be repaid by you or your estate if deceased. Travelling overseas without adequate travel insurance is very foolish and poor advice. A couple of hundred dollars premium with a good travel insurance company that covers many pre-existing conditions is good value when you could be up for tens of thousands of dollars and in some circumstances hundreds of thousands of dollars as some travellers have found out and had to mortgage their homes to pay the costs.

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