It is vital to take out comprehensive travel insurance, as it will ensure you’re covered for general medical expenses, any existing medical conditions, hospitalisations and medical evacuation.
The Australian Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Malta and Norway, which cover the cost of any immediate treatment you may require. However, while this provides a safety net for Australians travelling to those countries, an RHCA won’t cover a medical evacuation back to Australia, which can cost, in extreme cases, up to $300,000.
An RHCA also won’t cover any health problems encountered while travelling to and from those countries.
When purchasing travel insurance, shop around to ensure you’re not paying hefty commission rates on top. Independent research conducted by CHOICE’s Money and Rights magazine found that travel insurance can be found at as much as 40% cheaper online.
The Insurance Ombudsman Service recommends thoroughly reading the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and policy wording of your travel insurance policy to get a full understanding of any conditions, exclusions and limitations that may apply, what you need to do in order to make a claim and what’s expected of both you and your insurer. Also ask the insurer what activities and situations are exempt (such as adventure sports if you plan on taking part in any).
If you’re planning to use the travel insurance you can get when you buy a ticket on your credit card, obtain a copy of the policy wording from your bank or credit card provider and make sure it meets your personal needs and situation. For example, it pays to check whether the policy will cover existing medical conditions.