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Flying blind with opt in insurance

CHOICE says consumers should rethink impulse purchasing travel insurance when buying plane tickets online

14 November 2014

A CHOICE review of travel insurance offered by Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin has found auto-selecting a policy when purchasing a plane ticket online can leave you grappling with exclusions and over paying for your travel insurance.

 “When purchasing a plane ticket online the airlines serve you up everything from car hire to carbon offsets but if you are tempted to select the travel insurance option that is dropped in you might find yourself sleeping in the airport,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.

 “Buying travel insurance is not like grabbing a packet of chewing gum while standing at the checkout. Insurance policies can be complex products and consumers need to take time to ensure they are selecting a policy right for them.”

CHOICE’s review of 30 travel insurance policies shows that you can find a much better or cheaper policies on the market. Good2Go – The Works policy is recommended as a comprehensive policy, while Travel Insuranz Classic may better suit those on a tighter budget. CHOICE’s travel insurance review is available to all consumers for the first time as part of its travel hub project.

“Jetstar Essentials was the worst of the policies we found served up to consumers during the online checkout process.[1] If electronic items like a smartphone, laptop or camera are stolen they'll only give you $250 per item capped at $750 for all items.[2]”

 “If your flight is delayed for 6 hours or more and it was caused by your carrier, the insurance with other airlines we looked at will give you up to $425 per 24 hours for meals and accommodation but with Jetstar Essentials you'll be starved and sleeping in the airport.[3]” 

CHOICE also found airlines only give you 10 minutes to read a 14,000 word document before the flight payment screen times out even though it would take the average reader close to an hour to digest.

“It’s obvious the airlines don’t give consumers enough time to read the product disclosure statement to ensure they are making the right decision.”

CHOICE says getting travel insurance is crucial, especially if you are heading overseas. Without it you can be left out of pocket by tens in not hundreds of thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.

“Travel insurance is a ‘must have’ not a ‘nice to have’ for globetrotting consumers. But getting wrong insurance can be as bad as having no insurance at all.”

“Make sure that you are covered for the things you need. Going canyoning? You may need to pay extra to get coverage. Going to party hard? Take note that you probably won’t be covered if something happens when you have had a few too many cervezas.”

“Insurance fine print can be a bore to read but consumers need to know what they are paying for. Our online comparison can help consumers navigate the trickier parts of the market”.

For further information visit choice.com.au/travel/money/travel-insurance

CHOICE tips

  • Read the product disclosure statement (PDS) thoroughly
  • Don’t opt in to travel insurance during the online checkout process without reading the terms and conditions
  • If using credit card insurance make sure it is activated
  • Go to choice.com.au/travel/money/travel-insurance to compare travel insurance policies

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