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Insurers resume travel sales as Government lifts ban

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The Federal Government announced today it has removed its “Do Not Travel” global advisory, paving the way for insurers to resume large-scale international travel insurance sales.

Travel insurance sales have been in free-fall since the blanket ban on outbound travel was put in place in March last year, sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Permission from the government was required for any residents wanting to make an overseas trip.

A statement from Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne says Canberra is reinstating country-specific travel advice levels for 177 destinations.

“The updated country-specific travel advice will allow Australians planning to travel overseas to assess risks, understand requirements, and prepare to travel safely,” she said.

“It will also help Australians to access travel insurance more readily.”

She says under the travel advice framework announced today, no destination will be set lower than Level 2 “Exercise a high degree of caution”, given the ongoing COVID-19 health risks and the continuing complexities of international travel.

The changes apply to fully vaccinated Australians, who will be able to depart without a government exemption from Monday onwards.

A separate statement from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says travel insurance is available for overseas trips, and that some insurers have introduced cover for various COVID-related travel situations to destinations other than those few that continue to carry a Level 4 “Do not travel” advisory.

Not all travel products will automatically cover COVID, the ICA says, cautioning some may provide it as an add-on for an extra cost and some will include it in the policy as part of the overall premium charged.

“Australians love to travel, and with more flights taking off and the Australian Government’s travel advisories [being] updated, we’re expecting to see the pent-up demand of the last two years turn into a rush to travel overseas in coming months,” ICA CEO Andrew Hall said today.

“You can’t leave Australia without a passport, and you shouldn’t leave Australia without travel insurance.

“Travel insurance remains essential for all the reasons it was pre-pandemic: to provide protection when the unexpected occurs far from home.

“Some insurers are now offering cover for a range of COVID-related situations, providing additional protection for travellers if they want or need this as part of their travel insurance.”

ICA says the introduction of COVID cover has not significantly impacted premium costs, and travel insurance remains good value given the benefits it provides travellers if the unexpected happens.

The statement from Ms Payne says border settings and quarantine requirements in other countries continue to change.

“We strongly encourage Australians to closely monitor the Australian Government’s travel advice available on smartraveller.gov.au,” she said.

“Australians will also need to consider the requirements of airlines, transit and destination countries, as well as return arrangements to Australia in making decisions on when and where to travel abroad.

“Many of these requirements are subject to change at short notice given COVID-19 situations.”