Tray Tables away

travel tips and tales for mature travellers

travel paperwork/insurance etc

Travel Insurance – 8 things I have learnt

Travel insurance can be so confusing yet it cannot be ignored.

Exactly this time last year a friend an I were forced to extend our stay in Bali due to the Volcanic ash from Mt.Rinjani in Lombok. I learnt a few things from that experience  and a few others things over the years as well.

I’ve also worked in the insurance industry for a number of years and whilst I don’t work specifically on travel insurance its been a great experience to get some insights into how the insurance game works. Sadly it is an industry rife with fraud and contrary to popular belief the companies aren’t trying to rip people off and look for ways to reject claims. In fact they want you to stay as safe and as organised as possible ! It’s a low profit industry that is largely beholden to conditions they can’t control such as natural disasters and weather events, so it’s VERY important to make sure you have good insurance at all times.

We’ve made 3 claims in the past 3 years and those experiences have largely influenced what insurance we now choose. Some great lessons were learnt along the way ;

  1. NEVER buy a premium because it’s the cheapest. You only know how good your policy is when you make a claim. I’ve lost count of the stories I’ve heard where people found out the hard way that their cheap policy did not cover much.
  2. Read the PDS. A tedious job especially when doing multiple comparisons but it’s amazing what is and isn’t covered. I did this exercise a few years ago when looking to buy an annual policy with 12 different companies and found the best cover for us at the time was offered by the mid-price policies.
  3. Look very carefully at things like your age, weather events, acts of terror and pre-existing medical conditions. A lot of policies will not cover these things or have special restrictions. 
  4. Look carefully at daily limits. When I had to extend in Bali last year by 6 days my policy said I had $10,000 cover for weather events but this was capped at $200 per day. Which was fine for Bali but wouldn’t be so great somewhere like London or New York. Many people found out they had limits of less than $100!
  5. If you are travelling in the EU it is actually mandatory by law for the airline to compensate up to about 1200euro for lost baggage. It can be a slow and tedious process but we got there in the end with a claim against Norwegian 2 years ago. We also got the bag back as well but were compensated for all purchases made in the meantime. You wont be able to claim on your insurance policy until you have exhausted this path first.
  6. If you do not wear the appropriate attire when riding a scooter in any country chances are you will not be covered. If you don’t have a valid Australian Motorbike license you may not be covered either. Many young people have learnt this lesson the VERY hard way but often older people too.
  7. Look at your Credit Card cover. After processing my Volcanic Ash claim the insurance company then asked for my credit card details so they could be reimbursed by that insurance company. That really made me wonder why I bothered taking out a separate policy and after checking carefully what our CC PDS covered we only use that now.
  8. HOWEVER, your credit card insurance will only kick in if you book a certain amount of content with your card. I recently went on an o/s trip that was booked by someone else so I had to take out a small policy to cover me for those few days.

Mt Rinjani ash cloud November 2015

cover Image © emiliezhang / Adobe Stock Photo




  1. Di Bowman

    Great advice Sandy – we have been caught out with various policies over the years. We try to use the one CC for most travel and use the cover that comes with that card. Those terms and conditions can vary vastly from bank to bank so worth shopping around before you decide which card to prioritise for travel.

  2. Nicole

    Great post Sandy – I too find the CC cover very suitable for our needs vs taking out a separate policy. It definitely pays to read the fine print. My husband had been renewing an annual policy for years thinking it covered him for the more ‘active’ sports when in fact it was no different to what his credit card covered.

  3. Leonie

    Such a nightmare choosing travel insurance. I’m just about to do it again. Sigh.
    Only used the cc cover once and the excess was $200. Never bothered again.
    Thanks for the tips.

    • sandra

      Our excess is only $50 Leonie – it pays to shop around as I say. Also if you travel o/s at least 2 times a year it probably pays to look at an annual preimum.
      Good luck with it all and safe travels !

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