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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Ignorance abroad: Travellers casual about cover

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The insurance industry is “increasingly concerned” for Australian tourists following the publication of a survey which shows many are complacent about travel insurance and don’t understand exclusions.

The study, by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, reveals two-thirds of respondents who recently visited Southeast Asia took part in a risky activity, and one in five didn’t declare a pre-existing medical condition.

The details:

• One in 10 Australians travelled to Southeast Asia without travel insurance. Men and under-30s of both sexes were the most likely to leave home without cover.

• 82% of the under-30s admitted to risky behaviour.

• One in four Australians rode a motorbike or scooter during their trip. Of those with insurance, 58% didn’t know if their policy covered this activity.

• More than 50% of travellers didn’t know if their travel insurance policy covered their trip activities.

ICA says travellers may unwittingly void their travel insurance if a claim involves risky behaviours including:

• Drinking alcohol and being affected by it (48% of travellers to Indonesia).

• Engaging in a high-risk water sport (25% of travellers).

• Riding a motorbike or scooter (44% of travellers to Vietnam).

• Undertaking an adventure sport (14% of travellers).

• Riding a horse, camel or elephant (24% of travellers to Thailand).

• Taking illicit drugs.

ICA says the insurance industry is concerned that 215,000 Australians travelled to Southeast Asia last year without insurance.

“Second, too many travellers with insurance aren’t aware of their policy inclusions and exclusions and how easily they can invalidate a claim,” a spokeswoman said.

“Third, many travellers fail to declare a pre-existing medical condition to their insurer.

“Our survey finds one in five travellers didn’t check their policy covered their pre-existing medical condition, with 30-49 year olds the least likely to check.

“The importance of reading and understanding the product disclosure statement cannot be overestimated. It’s there to help travellers make an informed choice. It’s a priority to travel with the right travel insurance and be aware of cover inclusions and exclusions.”

Some 25% of travellers also wrongly believe the Federal Government would help Australians overseas with medical treatment or emergency travel home if something goes wrong.