The travel insurance policy exclusions you need to know

Compare travel insurance to feel sure you are fully covered.

What travel insurance won’t cover

Your passport and visas are in order, your itinerary has been researched to within an inch of itself, you’ve booked and paid for your tickets, the suitcase is almost packed and you’ve bought travel insurance … what could go wrong?

Plenty, actually. Some travel insurance policies have only limited cover for medical expenses incurred overseas. If you want to set and forget your next vacation, then you must study the clauses of travel insurance policies you’re thinking of buying, because not all of them are guaranteed to give you genuine peace of mind.

The unexpected cannot be planned for and in most cases that means medical emergencies. According to Australia Post (which unashamedly sells travel insurance), the single biggest reason for getting travel insurance is medical cover.

The site reports: “Each year, the Australian Government handles over 20,000 cases involving Australians in difficulty overseas, including those requiring hospitalisation or evacuation. However, they (the Government) will not pay medical expenses incurred overseas, and neither will Medicare. 

“According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the cost of medical evacuations from the US regularly ranges from $75,000 to $95,000, and sometimes up to $300,000. In South-East Asia, a favourite destination for Australians, daily hospitalisation costs can exceed $800. Medical evacuations from Bali have exceeded $60,000.”

The number of comparison sites make it pretty easy to compare travel insurance policies. Some of the more popular ones include:


According to CHOICE, its best rating is scored by RACV Total Travel Care. The policy’s rating is just 73 per cent – 27 per cent short of a perfect 100 score – but the RACV product impresses with its provision for unlimited medical expenses, unlimited cancellation expenses and $15,000 for baggage expenses. reports that most standard travel insurance policies have exclusions.

“Regardless of when a travel warning is issued, and whether you took advice from the Government or not, you may find you will not be insured for certain events. General exclusions that tend to be included across the board include: strikes, riots, civil protest and political instability, any act of war, terrorism, any event to do with nuclear or chemical weapons, contagious diseases and/or epidemics or pandemics.”

So if you are planning a trip to an area where there is social or environmental instability that could thwart your holiday plans, be prepared to not be reimbursed for any inconvenience, unless you ensure that your travel insurance policy specifically covers a range of events.

Have you ever had a travel insurance claim rejected? Who do you most trust with your travel insurance? Is travel insurance an unnecessary expense?

Original article by Olga Gallacho edited by Ben Hocking.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    28th Sep 2019
    If you travel couple of times a year then consider what I do and buy a years insurance works out to $400 per year.
    Karl Marx
    28th Sep 2019
    Nerk I do the same, far cheaper in the long term. And always check the policy for any activities you plan to do. Easy to check if you download the PDF the search for certain words like "motorcycle", "snorkelling" etc.
    28th Sep 2019
    I have to admit I cannot remember how much evacuation costs are on credit card complimentary insurance but this product covers everything else. The question begs to be asked why can't local hospitals do the work? Yes I get it: America is super expensive and third world is not capable of doing a lot more than basic work. Having said that don't Australians head to Thailand for cheap work?

    The article is of course discussing the one in million occurrence.
    28th Sep 2019
    Sorry Mick but a lot of Australians travel to Thailand and Bali just for the partying and then they do the typical Australian bogan thing and get drunk and try and ride motor scooters for which they have no licence for and then have an serious accident and their insurance will not cover them because their insurance is voided by several things that the idiot Australia thinks they are covered for and these Australians think they are better than what they are. Then the family start a "Go Fund Me" site to bludge on other people to pay for their hospital bills and for their medical evacuation. This is a continual problem in Thailand and Bali. They do not read the fine print of the exclusions on their insurance but then just go ahead and do the things. I am an Australian and live in Thailand and I am a volunteer with the Royal Thai Tourist Police and this is one of the biggest problems that is caused and they are mainly drunken, bogan Australians that cause most of the problems
    Karl Marx
    29th Sep 2019
    To be fair Russell it's the same with Europeans, Brits, Yanks etc. I agree they are all idiots & their choices have consequences but like most at that age they think they are bullet proof & better than anyone else until of course when the proverbial hits the fan.
    The go fund me page in this case are a rort, hope they get bugger all & made to pay the costs out of their own pockets.
    28th Sep 2019
    Anyone found a decent company that covers pre-exisiting conditions?

    Most only allow you to fill in boxes on a form, and the computer then says no. Even if you phone, the call centre idiot is not a doctor and has no leeway when you try and explain, computer says no.

    This year I am using Qantas which is NIB travel insurance. They allow you space on the online form to explain your conditions, and then a medical team look at and get back to you. But they only cover up to age 69 and I cannot use them again after this trip.

    Not everything fits into neat little boxes, you need to be able to explain properly and get them to understand and make a proper medical assessment.
    29th Sep 2019
    Hi, I use Tick travel insurance, I have been using them for about 10 years, they have a really good policy that covers for most pre existing medical conditions, I have had 2 claims over that time, one was a minor claim when my wife had to visit the onboard doctor on a cruise ship the other was a bit more serious, I had a heart attack two weeks before I was due to go on a cruise, the staff at Tick couldn’t have been more helpful, I got the full amount less the excess $200 back, although I did have to contact the cruise company to get a refund of the taxes, the only problem is you can’t get an annual policy for cruising and you have pre existing medical conditions, their policies are much cheaper than most companies that I have looked at, I believe they are the budget arm of Insureandgo. All of their policies cover cruising, but you have to take their standard policy if you have pre existing medical conditions, otherwise you can use their budget policy.
    29th Sep 2019
    Forget to mention I am over 70, from memory I think you can get cover up until 79 but you would need to check on that.
    29th Sep 2019
    Thanks Jim, I will have a look at that. I don't need an annual policy, nor do I go cruising. Even though I am not troubled by my pre-existing conditions, I have to declare them so as to avoid getting nothing in case of an emergency. Had chest pains and then an angiogram a couple of years ago. Cardiologist gave me a clean bill of health, and said I was in no danger of a heart attack, but there is no provision to say that on forms. Also have osteoarthritis in my hips and knee, but I am walking around fine, and not having any problems. I went on a trip to Germany and UK last year and paid a fortune to Allianz for cover. Didn't have a single problem on the whole trip. This year I have NIB covering my upcoming trip to Paris and London. I was able to explain everything to them, and their policy cost is far more reasonable, but I am only covered up to $100k which is fine for the UK where I will spend most time. But the buggers won't cover my knee even though it is fine! At the time I took out the policy, I was about to have an ultrasound guided cortisone injection. So they decided they would not cover me. They did say I could call them back after and depending on the results they might reconsider. Even though the injection appears to be successful, I have not called them. Don't know if I want to be bothered. I am not going to end up in hospital with the knee and even if I have a bit of pain, I can managed till I get home.
    29th Sep 2019
    Just an add on, you may or may not know, when in the UK Australians are covered for emergency treatment, don’t know much about other European countries, I always take out insurance anyway, you still have to get there so if something happens on the way you are covered, we have a reciprocal agreement with the UK.
    29th Sep 2019
    Yes, I know we are covered by the reciprocal agreement. Have used it a couple of times for a visit to the doctor when I got sick on one trip. Had to pay for my script, but visit was free.
    Another time I got bad chest pain so my cousin whizzed me off to the local hospital quick smart. They did an ECG, blood tests etc, and it was all clear. Didn't cost me a cent.

    But even though we are covered in the UK, we still need insurance in case travel plans get disrupted etc. and you need to reschedule or rebook flights and other transport etc.
    pedro the swift
    28th Sep 2019
    Remember its a business, not a charity!
    29th Sep 2019
    OK. On this forum why dont contributors give their opinions on best policies that are available ??
    29th Sep 2019
    I went with Cover-More because Flight Centre recommended them. I had to cancel my U.K. tour a month after booking because I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I relied on Flight Centre to lodge the claim for me because of what I was going through and because they had all the details of costs, etc. All I had to do was provide medical evidence. Flight Centre were so slack & hard to get in touch with that it took 4 months for my claim to be lodged and another 2 months for the claim to be approved and paid because Cover-More had to wait for further details from Flight Centre. Once they had all the very straight forward details from Flight Centre they paid the entire cost of the trip (less excess) in less than 10 days. If Flight Centre had done their job the claim would have been paid in less than a month 5 whole months ago. Cover-More were great and I wish I had been in a better state of mind to lodge the claim through them direct & let them deal with Flight Centre.
    29th Sep 2019
    thanks Jen; its all good info for the benefit of everyone, hope the cancer is gone for good !!
    29th Sep 2019
    Thanks John, I’m cancer free now and looking forward to traveling next year.
    30th Sep 2019
    If you should have a fall on a cruise ship make sure you do not drink beforehand. Insurance companies will do everthing they can to avoid payouts. Someone I knew fell injured themselves but because they had been drinking no go with insurance. Always use the lift and not stairs if you have a drink or two

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