31st Jan 2017

Travel SOS: when should I buy travel insurance?

Travel insurance policy with globe
Debbie McTaggart


Travel insurance is often a last minute thought, but this leaves people without cover should they have to cancel a non-refundable trip. So when should you actually buy your policy?

Q. Trudie
I always buy my travel insurance last minute, but a friend told me recently that I should buy it much earlier to ensure my trip is covered for cancellation. I’ve never considered this before and wonder does that mean I have to select the date I’m actually buying the insurance as the date I want it to commence?

A. Travel insurance is a must, especially when travelling overseas and many people do buy it at the last minute. Ideally though, you should buy your travel insurance policy as soon as you have booked and paid for your trip, particularly if your trip is non-refundable. The sooner you buy your insurance, the sooner you’re covered; however, it’s imperative that you check the details closely and know exactly under which circumstances you’re covered for delay or cancellation.


When it comes to selecting the dates for cover, you simply choose those you are actually travelling. The cover for cancellation will begin once the purchase is made and certificate issued, but again, you may just wish to clarify this with the policy issuer.


Of course, if you purchase a portion of your travel using a credit card, you may be covered under the travel insurance policy issued by your provider. Certain criteria, such as the amount you spend before the cover applies, how long you're travelling and whether you're covered for the whole trip, where you're travelling and which valuables are covered should be considerd. You may also have to contact your provider to confirm the cover is activated.


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4th Feb 2017
Never! Get a platinum credit card and you are covered.
5th Feb 2017
Yeah! But covered for what? You need to read the terms of the policy to make sure what you are covered for! I can't believe that a credit card that cost $150 - $200 a year can give you the same coverage as an annual policy which might cost $800 - $900 a year. Doesn't add up to me!
6th Feb 2017
GreyViper the insurance companies selling these policys are making a motsa, last figures show 9.7 million departures by Australians overseas and how many of those claim on their insurance - not many.

Anyway the credit card insurance is as good or better then a specific bought policy. Zurich Insurance is the company and their policy can be found on their website. I use my Bankwest Platinum card which has no annual fee so the insurance is effectively free.
4th Feb 2017
I always purchase my comprehensive insurance as soon as I've paid for my trip - one less thing to worry about later on. All the tips above are valid.

Don't worry if you don't have a credit card, not everyone has need of one, especially the annual fees that go with them.

Don't always go with your travel agent's insurance - shop around before you decide which one you will take. Usually travel agents have a premium added to their policy - you might be able to get the same policy on the internet for a cheaper price.
4th Feb 2017
I agree SuziJ and would add to make sure any activity you intend doing is actually covered. I discovered for example that cycle racing was included but an escorted cycle tour was not on many policies.
5th Feb 2017
The reverse of that may also be true! Our travel agent always gives us a discount and we get it cheaper from her than we can buy it direct from the company. It depends on the travel agent I have found. It is a very difficult area, trying to compare different policies and to make sure you are covered for the same inclusions. You also need to check the Pre-existing Health Conditions area to make sure some of you health issues are automatically included. Things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, acid re-flux, etc. They don't all include some of these common ailments. Don't always go for the CHEAPEST policy!
4th Feb 2017
We have just had a cruise cancelled. Did you know that while most travel insurance may cover you , it does not cover you if the company goes "bust". Australia used to have a scheme that protected us from this but it has been disbanded!
Grey Voter
4th Feb 2017
One very important consideration, especially if you, like me, are a senior, is that insurances policies usually exclude losses through cancellations, if the cancellation is as a result of a pre-existing medical condition, wheter physical or mental. Most insurance underwriters now exclude ANY cancellation losses as a result of specific pre-existing conditions; if I remember correctly: asthma and any form of mental issues (depression, panic attacks etc). The older you are the harder it is to obtain cover at all, let alone for pre-existing medical conditions.

If you make a claim under these circumstances, the insurer will approach your doctor/s who I believe is obliged to disclose your medical history, otherwise your claim will not even be considered.

Ihave been through this and I did not get a single cent from my insurers. The airline only refunded 1/3 of the fare.

So make sure you know exactly for what you are covered and what is excluded. BON VOYAGE
4th Feb 2017
It is absolutely vital that you read the whole of the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) yourself to understand how it applies to you and your companion if travelling duo. It is amazing what some policies do not cover and how insurance companies have refined it down so far that, particularly for older people, and by older I mean 60 years and over, the policies have become absolutely useless.

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