Why you need travel insurance

Travel insurance: don’t leave home without it

Being bitten by a monkey was not in the travel plans of my friend Alison and her family on a recent holiday in Bali. The incident, in which an aggressive monkey in Ubud climbed up her son Angus’s legs and bit him on the bottom, cast a shadow over an otherwise lovely holiday. Suddenly the family was faced with the frightening prospect of their six-year-old being exposed to rabies.

Fortunately, they had taken out travel insurance before they left home, and the insurance company, Allianz, was brilliant in the crisis. “We were able to talk to a nurse from Bali, who gave us clear direction on what course of action to take, and where to go for medical help,” says Alison.

Angus had to have a course of injections, including the rabies vaccine, with the total cost coming to $2000. The family will get all those costs (less the applicable excess) back.

“The customer service was excellent,” says Alison. “They held our hand throughout the process and followed up every step of the way.”

vaccine to prevent

The family also has praise for the medical authorities who followed up with them upon their return to Australia. Angus needed several subsequent medical appointments with doctors to receive additional vaccinations and oral medication. The rabies vaccine is a live vaccine so there is additional authorisation required before it’s supplied.

A situation like this is extreme but it is a perfect example of why travel insurance is a non-negotiable part of family travel. Quite simply you’d be crazy to leave home without it.

Most travel companies and tour operators insist on seeing evidence of your travel insurance policy before they’ll finalise a booking. However if you’re booking flights, accommodation and other activities online, the onus is on you to cover yourself and your family.

There are varying levels of cover and it’s a good idea to be fully aware of what you’re covered for and what not, how to get help when you need it and whether or not you’ll have to pay an excess when you claim.

So when you’re looking for travel insurance for your next family trip, it pays to consider some of the following:

  1. Check to see what definition of “family” the insurer is using. Does it cover your type of family?
  2. How many dependents are covered, and up to what age?
  3. Are you covered if the family is in two different places on the same trip?
  4. Is the policy appropriate for medical cover in countries where emergency treatment is notoriously expensive?
  5. Are snowsports or adventurous/dangerous activities automatically covered? Usually they are not, and you’ll have to pay an additional premium.
  6. How are delays and cancellations covered, in the event of bad weather or natural disasters such as volcano ash clouds.
  7. Are you covered for costs incurred if you have to return home early due to circumstances beyond your control, eg serious illness of a family member.
  8. Does the insurer offer 24/7 coverage, and have an easily accessible help line from your destination? Be confident that you can access help quickly when you need it.
  9. Consider multi-trip insurance. If you travel overseas more than twice a year it usually works out cheaper.
  10. Know what you are covered for, what not, what documentation you might need to substantiate a claim (a police report for theft for example).