As the school holiday season draws near, the Insurance Council of New Zealand is urging Kiwis to make travel insurance protection a priority for their overseas trip.
Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton says New Zealanders do not always appreciate the significant risks of travelling overseas without any insurance cover.
“Travel insurance is an important form of financial and health protection but it’s unfortunate that not all Kiwis consider it important when travelling,” says Mr Grafton. “Many people think travel insurance only covers personal belongings but the most important component of travel insurance is medical treatment and medical repatriation cover.”
Travel insurance provides access to 24-hour worldwide assistance if you become sick or injured. The Travel Insurer’s emergency assistance provider can make any necessary arrangements with doctors and hospitals overseas and will also arrange to fly travellers back to New Zealand if suitable treatment cannot be provided.
“Foreign medical treatment and repatriation can, in some cases, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Mr Grafton. “It’s important to understand that you are not automatically covered for medical treatment even when travelling to nearby destinations such as Australia or the Pacific Islands. This is a common misconception.”
The Insurance Council recommends that travellers take out travel insurance the same day you pay your travel bookings, even if you are just paying your travel deposits.
“Travel insurance will cover you for loss of any payments you have made for your trip if you then cannot travel due to an accident or an unexpected medical problem,” says Mr Grafton.
The Insurance Council recommends when taking out travel insurance that you disclose any pre-existing medical conditions as many Insurers will not automatically cover these, unless they are disclosed and accepted by the Insurer. In some cases an additional premium may need to be paid to cover the extra risk of a pre-existing medical condition interrupting your travel.
“Even after you have purchased your travel insurance you are still required, as a condition of the travel insurance policy, to disclose to your Insurer any change in health risks that may require medical attention before you leave for your holiday,” says Mr Grafton.
It is also very important to check the wording of your travel insurance so you fully understand what it does and doesn’t cover.
“Most travel insurance companies have general exclusion clauses in their travel policies which apply to certain types of activity, usually high-risk and potentially dangerous activities. People need to be fully aware what these exclusion clauses apply to and avoid exposing themselves to the potential risk,” he says.
The Insurance Council urges people to read their travel policies closely and if they are unclear about any aspect or confused by the wording to seek advice, either from their travel agent, Insurer or travel insurance broker.