By Tori Keating
Did you hear the one about the girl who was riding a bicycle in Bali who was knocked off by a drunk driver and was taken to hospital where she incurred a bill of $25,000? What about the one about the gentleman who dropped his iPhone on the floor of the train in Canada when the train suddenly lurched and the screen was smashed to smithereens?
My personal favourite living in Queenstown is the story of how a group of friends were going to Auckland to see a concert, booked all of their nonrefundable accommodation and flights and then the singer cancelled at the last minute leaving the friends entirely out of pocket and having to pay to go again when the singer rescheduled, OR they couldn’t even get out of the airport in Queenstown due to inclement weather and subsequently missed the whole gig.
Having things go awry when you are travelling is no joke, but it does happen, and often through no fault of your own. Yet you’d be horrified to know how many people choose to travel without travel insurance. In the travel industry we have an adage that we stick by- if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel!
Being close to the action we hear all sorts of horrible tales, from families having to sell or remortgage their house to pay for a family member’s medical expenses while overseas because the family member didn’t take out insurance, to clients paying in excess of $1000 to replace a damaged phone that would have cost $55 to cover on a trip to Australia.
Buying travel insurance as part of your trip is as essential as buying your flights. And it really should be done the moment you shell out any money towards a trip as 30% of all travel insurance claims occur before you even leave the country! Weather caused delays, cancellation of events or a child contracting chicken pox two days before travel sees many customers needing to pay extra before they even travel as airlines will only cover their portion of a delay, and with so many online accommodation options and other smaller flights being non-refundable or non-changeable, this can add quite a bit to your trip before you’ve even left your front door.
Making sure you are covered for pre-existing medical conditions is an absolute must too. Many companies charge through the nose for anything and everything but our favourite insurance company- Kiwi Holiday Insurance (underwritten by Allianz)- cover a whopping 36 pre-existing medical conditions free of charge as part of their normal policy. And it’s always necessary to cover any pre-existing medical conditions as the cost of medical treatment overseas can be just as debilitating as the medical condition itself. If you aren’t sure what level of cover you may need for this, a simple call to the Kiwi Holiday Insurance Medical Hotline takes care of this for you- they have a team of staff on hand to assess any necessary cover.
And their rates are some of the best in the industry. If you travel more than once a year it might be worthwhile considering an annual multi trip policy which will cover travel for up to 37 days at a time in NZ and abroad for a full year. For example, if you are aged up to 50 years old an annual policy starts at just $455 for one person, and $592 for two. As your age increases so does the premium but Kiwi Holiday Insurance’s policies still remain very low for all age groups.
Remember, if you do run into trouble while you are travelling make sure you get as much documentation as possible to support your claim, be it a police report for stolen property, a letter from the airline in case of delay, and copy yourself in on emails relating to your trip so you have a record. And finally read your policy to know what you are and aren’t covered for. It may shock you to know that while less than 1 in 10 travel insurance claims are denied, a massive 1 in 4 credit card travel insurance claims are denied, mainly because clients don’t know what they have cover for. The general rule of thumb with travel insurance- as in life- is that you get what you pay for. If you haven’t paid for it, it probably isn’t worth as much as you think.