Travel insurance review

Find the best travel insurance with our review, including policy benefits and conditions, value for money, price and claims service. We also have a travel insurance buying guide to help you understand the options.

Post your questions and experiences with travel insurance in the comments below.

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Our travel insurance reviews are now updated. Just select the insurance type that you are considering to find the best policies.

Thanks @BrendanMays, This is one comparison we use regularly when we travel.

Just a suggestion, for the credit card travel insurance comparison, is it possible for Choice to include the annual fees associated with the credit card. For example, the first card recommended has a first annual fee of $99 then $249 ongoing. One may think that having such a card is a cheaper option (take out such cards specifically for travelling and its insurance), but for us, it would cost significantly more than our usual lengh policies taken when travelling. Over many years, the additional cost could be considerable when less regular travel is taken.

Credit card annual fees would allow direct comparison on price with especially the single trip premiums, especially if one does not travel more frequently than once a year.

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…however how do you account for the value or other rewards and perks from the black and other premium cards, or for some would it just be the travel insurance.

All data might be good data, but when does it become too much data when all of the bits and pieces are not included? eh $295 per year is not just travel insurance. so one has to make personal judgements on overall value anyway.

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The credit card fees are usually in there but they were a bit out of date so we took them out until we have time to update them, most likely in February.

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Jodi, in assessing policies or insurers, when things go wrong OS are there any policies or services that you can fall back on to help you out, that might come as part of your travel insurance? Is this considered in the reviews or assessed?

For big things there is DFAT, for booked packages I’ve needed to phone home in Aussie office hours to the agent, for Agoda etc they each have procedures to seek resolution (but not immediately)?

My more recent experiences of travelling as a holiday maker are that it can be challenging particularly if you are stuck on a Shinkansen that has suffered a major rail system failure, and your 4hr safety margin to your departing flight is fast approaching! Nothing a credit card and diversion to the nearest airport can’t fix if you have the knowledge!

Choice’s guides and reviews do point out there are limitations to what travel insurance will cover.

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Many travellers have a misconception about what DFAT can and cannot do for them.

Although this is a commercial insurance site it provides a good summary.

https://www.goinsurance.com.au/australian-government-assistance-travellers-can-dfat/

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Yes DFAT have limited resources so they really don’t want you relying on them.

If you get a travel insurer with good phone or internet customer service, they’ll be able to help you out of a lot of pickles. Finding out which insurer has good service can be difficult though. You often don’t find out until you have to call them, and you don’t want to have to call them.

Travel Insurance has a very low claims rate (around 5% from memory) so it’s difficult to just survey people and find out how their claims experience is (we’ve tried several times). Anecdotal evidence, such as from the user reviews people leave on our site, can be useful but isn’t statistically significant enough to use in our review process.

We instead use the Australian Financial Complaints Authorities complaint data in our review. It captures data for complaints, not satisfaction at the point of receiving the service, or lodging the claim, but it’s the most robust data available. And we’ve found there’s a high correlation with the anecdotal feedback we see from people.

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We’ve updated our annual multi-trip travel insurance review:

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My credit card is advertised as having an annual fee of $349, but from my statement, it’s costing me $59 annually (I’ve never queried :wink:).

Travel insurance with Allianz would cost about $500 ( last inquired a year ago).
For me it is free, on condition that the payment for the trip is made by credit card.
I’ve registered for 5 trips in 4 years.

A fee is charged for credit card payments by the travel agent, but I would be using a credit card anyway as it is usually a substantial sum.

I don’t have previous medical conditions, other than high cholesterol which I’ve disclosed.
As things are at present I’m happy with the setup, but would rethink if there’s any changes in my health as I get older.

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An article regarding the victims of the White Island tragedy and their families not being able to claim any compensation except for the Accident Compensation Corporation.

I doubt that anyone would have been aware of just how they would be left high and dry in this situation.

Not about travel insurance and not all the facts perhaps.

It’s just click bait sensationalising the circumstances of the victims and their families. I would not have posted the item at this time.

It is a positive that in NZ there is national accident protection. A great program. If something similar happened in the USA or many other places the costs all come out of pocket, or hopefully your travel insurance. Although there are activities travel insurance will not cover or charge extra for. Back country or off groomed slope skiing is a common exclusion.

Some events are also considered natural events or “acts of god”. It is difficult to sue for these.

I would not speculate on where the NZ Coroner, Police or Work Safe investigations lead. Walking around the crater of a still active volcano would seem high risk. Just as playing golf in a thunder storm, umbrella in hand might also be high risk.

Ask anyone who has been injured falling off a scooter in Bali or Thailand how it plays out. Or think tidal waves. Who are you going to sue for letting you sit at their beach club to watch the water come and go?

There are a great many questions that will need serious consideration and answers. For now why should a gutter media organisation get credit for making mileage from an imagined blame game. NZ law is NZ law. Perhaps there will be a future opportunity for those affected?

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Yep high risk activities such as para-flying etc are exclusions from cover of almost any policy. Entering an Active Volcano Caldera I am sure would be seen as one of those exclusions and I am further sure they had to sign waivers regarding tour operators etc to absolve them from anything that happened including negligence (though negligence may still be invoked and be successful as a claim). I think if anything the WorkSafe and Police investigations may be the best hope of any legal proceedings and then maybe the victims of the tragedy and/or their families may be able to seek some restitution under that process.

The idea of walking into an active volcano while extremely exciting also invokes a severe case of caution on my part that would outweigh any desire to enter. This thrill seeking desire seems to me to have become more prevalent these days, I wonder if some of it is due to the Taxoplasmosis bacteria (some research shows it decreases risk aversion and impairs motor skills by the secretion of GABA even in humans):

https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/infectious-diseases-conditions/toxoplasma-gondii-may-impact-human-decision-making-and-cultural

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/begin rambling.

We had a brief chat about ‘would we go to an active volcano’.

As with you, our unequivocal answer was ‘not unless it was dormant with zero signs of becoming active.’ A 2 of 5 on the danger scale might be low but reflects it was ‘not dormant and inactive’ and it was smoking. It has been at 2 in the past without erupting, right? ‘current activity “does not pose a direct hazard to visitors”’, right? ‘It will never happen to me’, right?

‘Future opportunity’ [for compensation]? Going onto that island seems in some respects similar to walking across a CBD intersection while glued to your mobile screen. You know there are risks, you know those risks, but you dismiss them as an inconvenience of the moment since ‘it won’t happen to me, statistics on my side’, right? Trusting The Experts, right - not unexpected, but.

Years ago I did a helicopter tour on Maui with the company that had the best standards, helicopters, and safety record of all of them. All the pilots were x-military with many hours flight time. It was an exciting ride going into and out of a dead end canyon. As a fixed wing ‘jockey’ I was not exactly comfortable during the experience but they had been doing the same for decades with never an accident. It would never happen given the company, the pilots, the equipment, and their long accident free history and refusal to fly in poor weather, right? A few months later that company lost a pilot, tourists, and a helicopter in that same canyon. One accident in their long history of safety and excellence. Stuff happens. The company survived and remains one of the best reviewed on the Hawaiians; liability never resurrects the dead although it might do the medical bills. In NZ the government apparently does the bills, details TBD for non-residents, hence NZ reputation for adventure seekers since liability is covered, making it affordable for operators to sell edgy experiences at prices tourists can pay. But predicting volcanic eruptions is about as accurate as predicting earthquakes - eg not so very.

To liability, if the tour company cancelled the island visit how many of the tourists would have complained about missing out if there was no eruption?

/end rambling.

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It even vents at a 1…at one it is still an active volcano.

From media reports, it has been 2 since early November and has been 2 before without erupting. There were also media reports that technically tours access is not restricted at 3. The tour companies chose not to access at 3 even though they could do so.

Any active volcano poses risks.

The science of eruptions is in its infancy and not overly reliable from shat I can gather. It is a little like predicting an earthquake…something which is yet to be done.

The 1-5 they use for White Island appears to measure level of seismic activity…see above comment.

And frequency is included in risk measurement. What were the chances of people being near the crater’epicentre when it erupted.

Also, there may be greater risks elsewhere on tours, such as the boat ride and disembarking on the shore.

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Perhaps that is a reasonable assessment.
Perhaps it would fail a standard risk assessment based on the Australian Standard.

The risk of multiple fatalities or serious injuries to many, proximity of support or rescue services, etc would need a team of experts to consider fully.

I would not speculate on the outcome of assessments of what has caused the tragic loss of lives and horrific injuries to many.

In a Different Place:
In the workplace environments where exposure to high temperature gases, liquids, or projectile material might occur, but are rare, there are many controls put in place. I’ll note these environments such as around hot metal furnaces, smelting etc are strictly controlled, managed and predictable. PPE often at a high level including suitable respirators, to be used when necessary is the norm.

Transpose the same risk factors to an uncontrolled unpredictable environment and ask what is appropriate for those venturing forth? In some ways requiring visitors to such places to wear heat protective over clothing and carry an appropriate respirator might add to the allure for most would be tourists, while protecting them from the most likely hazards. NZ will provide the final answer. Perhaps there is no safe level of PPE given the nature of the hazards present on White Island!

Yes, it’s likely there are those in the community who would ride a roller coaster without the harness or safety frame, just as others still refuse to wear a seat belt. There is excitement in risk, until it all goes wrong.

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A timely warning on not being covered for pandemics.

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In 2019 my wife and I booked a trip on The Ghan from Darwin To Adelaide, having to fly from Melbourne first. Unfortunately, the moment we arrived at our Hotel in Darwin we received a telephone message from our Travel Consultant that the Ghan was cancelled due to a derailment in South Australia. In order to pick-up our Cruise from Adelaide we had to fly from Darwin to Adelaide via Sydney, at an additional cost of over $900. Our Travel Agent received advice from the Ghan that day (I have a copy of that email). that the derailment happened the day earlier.
Unfortunately, our Travel Insurance, with Insure&Go, commenced on the day we left Melbourne to travel to Darwin, and, although the derailment happened the day earlier, neither our Travel Agent or we were not advised earlier. If we had, we would not have left Melbourne. Insure& Go refused our Claim, although we had used them 2 or 3 times previously, with no claims ($3,000 worth of policies if I remember correctly). A Payment of $900 against our total payments over the years would make great business sense to us and would see all our future Travel Insurances go through them.
We found their lack of understanding and totally lacking in compassion.
So, this year, we insured with Tick Insurance, thinking that they were a different Company, and based on Choice’s ratings as well. Our Cruise to Singapore in February was cancelled by Princess Cruises and we were out over $750 in return airfares from Singapore. The hoops Tick made us jump through, only to reject our Claim, was very disappointing.
We have informed both Insure&Go and Tick that we will never use them again and will be advising our friends to do the same. The Terms and Conditions are so slippery that even, in our opinion, Einstein could not understand them.

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This concern could go into the COVID-19 topics but is more general.

QF and other airlines are signally international pax will need to show proof of COVID vaccination to fly. Yet the vaccines are well short of 100% effective.

At what point can we expect the formal pandemic to be called ‘over’ and what are going to the the multiple year constraints on travelling because travel insurance will not cover pandemic related illnesses, even if vaccinated?

I accept we do not have the answer yet, but the question should be front and centre in upcoming travel insurance discussions.

The worst example would be travel to the US where COVID-19 is out of control and getting worse, and most reports suggest it will be late 2021 before it starts getting under control, and will probably go beyond because of freedom and anti-vax sentiments that are allowed and sometimes encouraged. Coupled with bankruptcy inducing medical costs for the uninsured it appears various countries including the US may be no-go zones for some years to come because of the inability to get relevant insurances.

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It seems the Cruise line is fighting to have cases that are currently to be heard in the US, where the Headquarters for the Company are located, blocked and forced to only to proceed in NSW over the White Island tragedy. The cases in the US are being mounted against the parent company based on a view that they did not take advice that deemed the visit too risky “where they turned a blind eye to all the evidence that White Island was ready to erupt”. So no travel insurance it seems but negligence claims may still win (not a great win with lifelong injuries but still something) for victims of the eruption.

As US Courts are often more generous in their damages payout decisions and Australian Courts tend to be very conservative in the same, it makes great sense as to why US cases by victims would be preferred by them and why Companies would prefer their liability to be heard over here. We will need to await the Court decision here as to whether the compensation cases will need to proceed here or if they can still be mounted in the US.

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