Research recently undertaken by travel insurance provider Australia Post has found that 40 per cent of Australians aged between 18 and 29 are taking a huge risk by travelling overseas without insurance. Stefan Mohamed has more details
The research, which surveyed 1,000 people, also found that one in four travellers aged 50 and over fly without insurance cover. Although Australia has reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands, they are not intended to work as a substitute for travel insurance, and each contains limits and ‘grey areas’. For example, in Italy, Australian travellers are entitled to ‘subsidised healthcare for a period of up to six months from your date of arrival at authorised hospitals or clinics’ but they ‘may need to pay for medicine, diagnostics and other tests’. Christine Corbett, executive general manager of retail for Australia Post, commented: “Many Australians are making the most of the stronger dollar and competitive flight fares, but then finding their budgets are blowing out with hidden expenses that can be avoided.”
Australia Post commissioned Quality Online Research to carry out the survey prior to launching its new services, which allow travellers to prepare for overseas travel and avoid hidden expenses. Ms Corbett said of the research: “It seems young travellers in particular are returning home with more than just memories – they’re returning with unexpected international transaction fees, a large mobile phone bill and a credit card debt that is often taking months to pay off. We know from the research that the most common hidden expense is currency exchange rates.”
In related news, Australians have been warned about trying to shave a few dollars off the cost of their holiday by purchasing cheaper travel insurance policies that may not meet their expectations when the time comes to make a claim. Cheaper policies with more exclusions on them have been catching out Australian travellers, according to John Price, the lead ombudsman for general insurance at the Financial Ombudsman Service in Australia. He also said that ‘unattended luggage’ is one of the three main areas where disputes related to travel cover occur regularly, while other areas of contention are pre-existing medical conditions and trying to prove a loss or theft. Price said that, in particular, if consumers were reliant on travel insurance provided by a credit card, it is vital that they are helped to understand what activates the insurance cover, so that they know where they stand with regards to coverage. He highlighted that some credit card cover is only valid if the owner has used the card to pay for at least part of the holiday, but that some cards require a certain level of expenditure before the cover would be valid. He recommended that travellers get a copy of the wording of the insurance from the bank or credit card provider and read the cover details to ensure that everything the consumer needs to be covered is indeed protected.