Travel insurance buying guide

Are you paying too much to insure your holidays? Here's how to find a good deal on travel insurance.
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05.Insurance for special needs

If you have special requirements, you’ll have to be even more careful when choosing a policy.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Most insurers say they cover pre-existing illnesses or medical conditions, but the cover is always 'on application and subject to approval', and may well be refused. Some insurers now offer automatic coverage for common conditions such as asthma and high blood pressure but always check.

However, sometimes you may only be offered a policy that excludes claims caused by your condition. Whether you’ll be offered cover or not may also depend on your destination.

Pre-existing conditions are usually defined as any medical or dental condition for which you’ve received treatment or advice within a specified time prior to the policy being issued, or any chronic or ongoing medical condition, illness or disease that’s been medically documented before then.

If the insurer agrees to cover you, get it in writing. There may be an additional premium. It may also apply a very high excess, such as $50,000, for any claim relating to the pre-existing condition. Even if you can’t get cover for your pre-existing conditions it’s still important to take out travel insurance for any other claims.

Older travellers

Most policies have special conditions for older travellers. Some have an age after which they won’t supply cover at all, such as 64.

Most require special medical assessments. Some also charge an extra fee or higher premiums. Others have no fee, but have an extra excess — for example, $500 for medical claims.

Duo policies

Travelling with a friend? ‘Duo’ policies enable two people to travel together under the same policy — but check the conditions.

Some only allow you to travel with a spouse or family member. Some say you have to travel on exactly the same itinerary, while others only require you to travel together for 50% of the time.

Single parents

If you’re a single parent or an adult travelling alone with several children, most policies will cover them for the single premium. However, some only allow cover for two dependent children travelling with one parent. Also check the age limits for children travelling with one parent.

Pregnant women

Most will cover you on application, but you might be charged an additional premium for IVF conceptions or prior complications.

The cut-off point for coverage during pregnancy varies from 19 weeks to 'no time limit'. All policies cover unforeseen complications of the pregnancy during that time period, but they don’t all cover the medical costs of a premature baby.

Some charge an additional premium. No policies cover full-term birth. A few policies don’t cover you if you buy a policy and depart on your journey without knowing you’re pregnant.

Adventure travellers

Some policies only cover a limited range of adventure activities. They usually exclude mountaineering using ropes, and professional sports. Other policies cover some adventure activities, but you need to check your specific 'adventures' are covered. And there are usually conditions.

Working while abroad

Backpackers beware! Some policies don’t cover you for manual labour. Policies that do provide cover usually don’t charge an additional premium, but a few do.


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