Comparing policies before buying

With a large number of insurers and policies to select from, it can be hard to know how to best sort through the available options and compare.

As a result many travellers simply compare a few travel insurance quotes and leave it at that. Though price is important, a policy may not be suitable if it does not include adequate levels of cover and emergency assistance. A number of points, including but not limited to price, should be considered for a more thorough comparison.

Price is important, but not only price

The main factors that determine base travel insurance premiums include the destination (or destinations), trip duration and the age of traveller (or travellers). Loading amounts may be added to the base premium if the traveller has any existing medical conditions, and for options such as specified items cover or removing the excess. If travelling internationally and/or within Australia regularly, annual travel insurance may be a more cost-effective alternative.

Adequate levels of cover

It is a common misconception that policies largely offer cover that is more or less equivalent, when in reality actual benefits and levels of cover can vary significantly between providers. Credit card travel insurance, for instance, often provides only very limited cover. With any policy it is important to be aware of exactly what is covered and what is not covered.

To evaluate properly it is worth asking whether the cover included with the policy will be adequate should something unexpected occur. Consider the destinations you will be travelling to, the activities you will be engaging in and the personal effects you will be taking with you. Will the set limits on levels of cover detailed in the product disclosure statement be sufficient? Depending on the policy, benefits may include cancellation fees, overseas medical and hospital cover, emergency assistance, luggage cover, personal liability cover, and rental vehicle insurance excess.

Terms and conditions, and exclusions

The product disclosure statement (which will include the policy wording) will detail the applicable terms and conditions, as well as any general exclusions which apply. In any case it is important to be aware of exactly what is covered and what is not covered, but in particular compare whether the policy extends to any activities you intend to participate in, such as snow sports, extreme sports or a cruise.

Established insurance provider

In addition to cost and exactly what is covered, travel insurance should provide pre-trip information, 24/7 emergency assistance, and rapid claims processing. In the event that something unexpected does occur it is important that the emergency assistance provider has worldwide capabilities to respond quickly, and in the event that it becomes necessary to make a claim it is important that the underwriter is an established and reputable company.