Overseas travel is exciting, but things may go wrong, and travellers could find themselves faced with a medical emergency, finding the funds to replace lost luggage, or having to make an urgent trip home.
Travel insurance is cover you purchase for international trips, whether they're for business or holidays. Most travel insurance provides protection for
- cancellation and loss of deposit
- medical treatment costs
- costs for returning home in certain emergencies
- loss of luggage and personal items
- personal liability (except for deliberate acts or use of motor vehicles).
Buy before you fly
You cannot get travel insurance if you've already left the country. Buy travel insurance when you book and pay for your overseas trip. That way you're not only covered for your trip, but also if you need to cancel the trip before you depart.
Read your policy wording
Your travel insurance policy is a contract and is only as valuable as the cover provided in the benefits and exclusions described in that contract.
Common exclusions from travel insurance policies include
- loss of personal items which are left unattended
- insolvency of a service provider such as an airline
- acts of terrorism.
Declare your medical conditions
Declare any pre-existing medical conditions and any symptoms that could lead to a medical condition — not only for yourself, but also for close relatives back home.
If you're planning on undertaking any sporting or adventurous activities on your trip, talk to your insurer and read your policy wording to check whether you are covered while undertaking them. In particular, you should check whether you are covered while
- skiing, snowboarding or doing other winter sports
- scuba diving
- bungy jumping
- hang gliding
- water skiing
- motorcycling or using a scooter (in certain countries).
Motor vehicle liability (and damage to hire cars) is rarely covered under travel insurance policies. You must buy comprehensive motor insurance for the rental car from the rental car company in the country in which you are hiring the car.
High value items
Advise your insurer if you are going to take or buy high valued items on your trip. Many travel insurance policies contain sublimits on the value of items you can claim for (including electronics and jewellery).
If you're unsure, ask your insurer what value or coverage limits your policy may have.
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade runs a website that has up to date travel advisories for all countries on key issues like security and health.
Before you travel, you must tell your insurer if you intend to travel to any countries that have a "high-risk" travel advisory status.
Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz to check your intended destination and any countries you're stopping in or passing through.
Travel insurers provide free 24-hour emergency assistance. Keep the details of their emergency assistance provider with you at all times while travelling.
In the event of an emergency, you may need to contact them for medical treatment or advice.