When I was bitten by a monkey in Bali as a 20-year-old, my first thought was: F**k, my mum specifically told me to stay away from animals. My second thought was: Do I even have travel insurance to cover a visit to the doctor?
Fortunately, after I’d tracked down an English-speaking hospital to administer some extremely large and painful anti-rabies injections, I discovered the answer to the latter question was yes.
For many of us, buying travel insurance is a last-minute chore â€” and studies show one-third of us tend to pick whichever’s cheapest without reading the fine print.
The problem is more than half of travellers aren’t properly insured. Often, part of the problem lies with undeclared medical issues or specific behaviour that may make travellers ineligible to claim on their insurance.
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The experts I spoke to all started with the same advice: Always read details of the policy closely before you buy it.
successful legal challenge on the grounds of discrimination.
First-time mental illness is now covered under some policies, says Melanie Schleiger, manager of the Equality Law Program at Victorian Legal Aid, which won the ground-breaking discrimination case in 2015.
But beware: Some policies only cover first-time mental illness if you apply for it as an optional extra, says Ms Lewis.
Your best bet, as always: Read the policy closely to see if it will cover first-time mental illness onset while you’re travelling.
Boring it may be, but reading the product disclosure statement (PDS) is your best bet of working out whether you’re buying the right insurance for you, says Abigail Koch, spokeswoman at a major insurance price comparison website.
When you’re choosing a policy, “price is obviously a consideration, but it should fall down the pecking order,” she says.
more than half (58 per cent) of Australian adults don’t do this!
Some policies won’t cover you for certain medical conditions that pre-exist the purchase date of your policy, whether a mental illness or physical condition.
Getting cover for a pre-existing condition isn’t always easy: Some insurers will only cover pre-existing conditions with an extra fee, and sometimes even a medical assessment, according to consumer advocacy group CHOICE.
If you’re not sure if your pre-existing condition is covered, “the best option is to call the insurer directly before you go away and check what they will cover you for,” says Ms Koch.
Smart Traveller website)
If you need coverage for any of these, you may be able to pay extra to take out optional extra cover. This means you’ll pay a higher premium, and often a higher excess, to be able to claim for things like winter sports, pre-existing conditions or particular valuables.
only activates if you book return travel.
Some of these policies won’t let you pay an extra premium to cover pre-existing conditions, as many standalone policies do, CHOICE notes.
An accident caused by overdoing it on the poolside cocktails won’t be covered by your insurance.
purchase insurance after you’ve already left Australia.
“No travel insurer is going to begrudge you having a cheeky glass of wine,” says Ms Koch.
“However, if you have too many drinks and you fall and stumble down the stairs, and it’s deemed that the reason you tripped and fell is because you were under the influence of alcohol, most insurers would refuse to pay your claim.”
The same applies to illegal drug use (although it shouldn’t be a problem if you were taking a drug prescribed to you by a medical adviser, and taken in accordance with their instructions, Ms Koch says).
Don’t assume your insurer won’t find out you were on the wine: Insurers can look at police and medical records, hotel reports and airline reports while investigating your claim â€” and insurance investigators are also more frequently using social media sites to verify your claim, Ms Koch says.
This article contains general information only. It should not be relied on as advice in relation to your particular circumstances and issues, for which you should obtain specific, independent professional advice.