27 October 2015
A CHOICE review of 35 travel insurance policies has found only two insurers may cover you for mental illness while travelling, with exclusions around alcohol, adventure sports and pre-existing conditions also likely to catch you out.
"With around half the Australian population experiencing a mental health issue at some point in their lives, you would think the insurance industry would be able to price the risks appropriately to look after their customers," says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.
"Our look at the fine print from two of the biggest insurers – Bupa and CGU – found they may cover you, however they won't pay claims for 'disinclination to travel' due to a mental health condition including 'nervousness, anxiety, depression, or stress-related disorders'.
"Travellers need to be aware that very few travel insurers cover mental health claims, leaving people with mental health issues high and dry.
"A single visit to a therapist for common ailments including stress, insomnia, short-term depression or mild anxiety can be enough for insurers to deny cover or reject a claim if it isn't disclosed, even if the incident occurred more than a decade ago or is ongoing but well managed."
Notwithstanding the exclusions, CHOICE says getting travel insurance is crucial if you are heading overseas. Without it you can be left out of pocket by thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.
"While travel insurance is a 'must have', it's vital you look at the detail of each policy and understand what you are not covered for," says Mr Godfrey.
"For example, if you are planning a more adventurous holiday and going canyoning you may need to pay extra to get coverage. Or if you plan to party hard, you need to be aware that you probably won't be covered if something happens after a few too many alcoholic drinks.
"Insurance fine print can be a bore to read but consumers need to know what they are paying for."
CHOICE's report comes as the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal considers a case brought by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) centering on a young woman's claims being denied by QBE. Unfortunately, the then 17-year-old girl with no pre-existing condition was hospitalised with depression and cancelled an overseas school trip on advice from her doctor.
For further information visit choice.com.au/travelinsurance
- Read the product disclosure statement (PDS) thoroughly
- Take your time to understand the exclusions and disclose any pre-existing health conditions
- 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/travelinsurance to compare travel insurance policies
 http://www.bupa.com.au/staticfiles/BupaP3/pdfs/muc0308-travel-insurance-pds.pdf, https://www.cgu.com.au/insurance/cgu/files/a0/a023e914-b0a4-4182-b5a3-0436931552ab.pdf