Choosing the best travel insurance for cruises, skiing, diving and mopeds

Planning a winter holiday? CHOICE experts give advice on choosing the best travel insurance.

Cold comfort

Planning a holiday this winter? Whether you're heading overseas to an exotic destination to escape the Australian winter chill, taking a sunny cruise or hitting the slopes for some ski time, travel insurance is pretty much a non-negotiable. 

We've rounded up some advice to help you choose the policy that best suits the type of holiday you're taking.

"Many specific activities that you do on your holiday may not necessarily be covered by your general policy," says CHOICE travel insurance expert Ines Gruber. "You should carefully check the fine print of your policy before you go so you don't find yourself in a tricky or expensive situation."

Choosing the best insurance for cruises

We found that most insurers cover international cruises that start and end in Australia. Some insurers offer cover for cruises as an optional extra, however, and a few don't cover cruise holidays at all. It's important to check directly with insurers as the product disclosure statements (PDS) can often be unclear.

Even if your insurer does cover cruises, check exactly what is covered, and choose the right region according to your destination. Some cruise lines require you to have travel insurance with medical cover, even if the cruise doesn't stop at a port outside Australia, but not all international policies will cover this.

Some providers also offer tailored cruise travel insurance, which can give you access to additional inclusions that are unique to cruising, such as cover for missed ports, missed departures or cabin confinement due to illness, which may not be covered in standard policies.

Choosing the best insurance for diving and mopeds

If you're heading somewhere like Bali, Indonesia or Vietnam and think you'll be doing things like scooting around on a moped or scuba diving, ensure you have the insurance that will cover you for these specific activities.

Riding a moped

If you don't have an Australian motorcycle licence, most travel insurers won't cover you to ride a moped at all, and some won't cover you even if you do have a motorcycle licence. Some insurers will cover you if you're riding a moped with an engine capacity 50cc or below without a motorcycle licence, but good luck finding a moped with an engine size that small – most hire companies in South East Asia won't have one.

There are a few policies, however, that will cover you to ride a moped up to 125cc without a motorcycle licence, but you must wear a helmet and have an Australian driver's licence. Keep in mind that some insurers, such as AHM, Australia Post, Cover-More, Flight Centre, NRMA and Good2Go, offer this type of coverage as an optional extra.

Going diving?

Coverage for scuba diving is generally included in most policies, provided you hold a scuba diver's licence in Australia or you're under licensed instruction, but check the depth you're covered to. Diving at less than 30 metres is usually covered, but it's optional on some policies, and some, such as 1300 Insurance, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, HSBC, Hume Bank, St George and Westpac, only cover you up to 10 metres, which is a very shallow dive.

Policies usually only cover standard open water diving, rather than activities that are perceived to be more dangerous such as cave diving. And some may only cover you if you obtained your original diving licence in Australia – check the details of the policies before buying.

Choosing the best insurance for a ski holiday

Most insurers will cover you for standard skiing and snowboarding, but some offer it as an optional extra and some have special conditions. Only one insurer we looked at – The Wise Traveller – doesn't cover skiing or snowboarding at all. And Fast Cover has a snow sports policy that is separate to their general policy. 

Before getting insurance for a ski holiday, make sure it will cover you for your specific skiing or snowboarding destination (international or domestic), as well as for the activities you intend to do.

For example off-piste skiing or snowboarding is often not covered, and when it is covered it's usually only if you're still within the resort boundaries or skiing with a guide. Same for riding on a snowmobile, which tends to be an optional cover – you should check directly with insurers if you intend to ride a snowmobile as some may only cover it if you're using it as a mode of transport rather than recreationally.

Check out our guide to skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand.