By Maria Bekiaris,
Going overseas on holiday without travel insurance is not worth the risk the best laid plans can always come unstuck and it can be expensive.
Planning a holiday it's easy to get swept away by thoughts of cocktails by the pool, strolling down the Champs Elysee in Paris or thriller rides at Disneyland. By all means daydream about the joys in prospect, but don't forget the practical aspect.
It's important to be prepared in case things don't go according to plan. You might have to cancel before you go after an unexpected family illness, your luggage might go missing, or you might break a leg on the ski slopes.
You might be content to believe it won't happen to you, but here are a few sobering statistics: each year the Department of Foreign Affairs handles over 20,000 cases involving Australians in difficulty overseas including over 700 hospitalisations, 600 deaths and 100 evacuations to another location for medical purposes.
DFA's stance on travel insurance is: "If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel."
The first place to look for travel insurance is your credit card. "Complimentary travel insurance is not a standard feature on all credit cards, but it is usually a feature of 'premium' cards, typically gold and platinum credit cards," says St George senior manager credit cards, Sabina Zeljko.
The insurance is usually something promoted when you took out the card. You probably received details of the policy at the time, but if you’re not sure it’s a good idea to check with your card issuer.
Generally for the travel insurance to apply you need to pay for part or all of your trip on your credit card. "The Commonwealth Bank's Platinum and Gold credit cards include complimentary travel insurance when cardholders, both primary and additional, purchase overseas tickets with their cards. The insurance covers the cardholder's spouse and dependent children if they are also travelling with the cardholder," says Scott Henricks, general manager, cards consumer financing.
It's a similar deal with St George, though with ANZ's Gold card you only have to put travel purchases of $250 on your card.
"Typically the insurance policy is invoked when the cardholder purchases their return overseas travel tickets with their Gold or Platinum card," says Zeljko of St George. "In St George's case, the policy is extended to the cardholder's spouse and dependent children provided their travel tickets were also purchased via the eligible credit card and they all travel together."
You'll also need to find out what is and isn't covered and how long you are insured for.
"The complimentary international travel insurance covers lost items and/or getting sick overseas, with different limits for Gold and Platinum credit cards," says Henricks of Commonwealth Bank's cover. "The cover period also varies, with 12 months for Platinum card holders and three months for Gold card holders."
Gold and platinum cards tend to be more expensive than standard cards, both in terms of rates and fees, but if you travel regularly they might be worth the extra cost.
If you have a standard card with no complimentary travel insurance plenty of insurers offer travel insurance you can explore. The amount you'll pay for insurance depends on a range of factors.
"It is based on the type of cover, your age, destination of travel, length of stay and any pre-existing medical conditions," says the Insurance Council of Australia’s general manager communications, Paul Giles.
For the complete story see Money Magazine's February 2008 issue. Subscribe now.
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