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Seven tips to bag yourself the best travel insurance - Canstar

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Chances are that when it comes to personal insurance such as car, home or contents, you’ve shopped around to make sure you’re getting the best price and the best policy for you. But when we travel, insurance is often the last thing we think about, if at all. Canstar looks at why you should think about travel insurance sooner rather than later and what should be considered when you buy travel insurance.

Canstar general manager Jose George comments:

"In January nearly 174,000 Kiwis took an overseas trip. Unfortunately, that was also a month where if felt like most of the globe was experiencing extreme weather conditions, putting paid to travel and plans for a lot of people. Luckily, our research found that cover for cancellation due to severe weather is a basic element of all NZ issued travel insurance, but things would have been very different for those who had not purchased insurance either at all or at the right time."

What should you look for with travel insurance?

It’s tempting to make a last-minute purchase based purely on price but what your policy covers, and when you buy it, can be just as important.

Buy your travel insurance when you book your trip. This is a mistake many of us make and by not buying travel insurance well in advance of your trip, you’re leaving yourself exposed. Taking the recent volcanic eruption in Bali as an example, those travellers who had already purchased the appropriate insurance before the eruption was predicted, were covered for any costs associated with the resulting delays or cancellations. For those who only thought about it once news of the pending eruption had surfaced, it was already too late and they would have had to shoulder the costs of a ruined holiday.

Don’t just go for the cheapest option. Prices vary hugely for travel insurance. Canstar’s recent study found that, for a family of four travelling to Fiji, prices varied from $62.16 up to a peak of $255. On the face of it, it looks like a no-brainer, but don’t be too hasty as price can often reflect the things the policy covers and the maximum payout amounts in the event that you need to make a claim.[1: Ten-day travel period with a $100 excess on insurance policy]

Use online comparison sites. So much variation in price and features can make comparing your options a difficult and lengthy process. Online sites like canstar.co.nz do all the hard work for you letting you look at all your options in one go.

Make sure some basic features are included in the basic policy price. In New Zealand there are no legal requirements for what needs to be included in a travel insurance policy, but as rule you should check that you’re covered for:

Lost luggage

Emergency medical cover

Repatriation (in the unfortunate event you need to get home due to accident or emergency

cancellation due to strike, civil commotion, riots, natural disaster or severe weather

Personal liability cover

Not sure what you’re covered for? Don’t be afraid to ask. This is especially important with activities you may be participating in on your holiday. Many policies now come with cover for activities such as scuba diving and skiing but check the wording closely. There will be stipulations on how and with who you must be participating in your activity, and if you are not with (for example) a qualified instructor or within a designated area you may not be covered if you get injured. Speak to your insurer if you are not clear and they may be able to give you the option of additional cover.

Declare existing medical conditions. The good news is that with some insurers pre-existing conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure or epilepsy will have no impact on the cover your travel insurance gives you, but your insurer still needs to know about them. Not being completely honest and upfront about any health issues you may have means that insurers can not accurately assess your risk. We say may because even if you have only been referred or tested for a condition, but don’t know for definite, you must still tell your insurer. Choosing not to could invalidate your insurance.

Don’t assume you’re covered if you go to Australia. Canstar’s research found that for a couple taking a short break in Australia, travel insurance ranged from as little as $36 up to $228. After bagging cheap flights and a great hotel or Airbnb deal, it may be tempting to forego the extra cost of insurance as Kiwis are entitled to some levels of health and emergency care in Australia (under our reciprocal healthcare agreement). However, that agreement is limited and does not cover you for an ambulance (which can cost thousands of dollars), aftercare, some medications and possible repatriation costs. With no travel insurance you’re also leaving yourself exposed to personal liability, disruption or cancellation charges as well as lost luggage. [2: Six-day travel period with a $100 excess on insurance policy]

George concludes:

"None of us want to think the worst will happen - especially on a long-planned trip - but making help available if it does is what you’re buying with travel insurance.

"New Zealand has a good-sized market when it comes to travel insurance. Canstar researched 65 products from 34 providers, so the choice is there for consumers to get the cover that suits their situation and travel plans, at a price they are happy with."

The top-rated providers This year, Canstar's annual travel insurance analysis considered 65 products from 34 providers to determine which ones offer outstanding value for money. To reflect the different types of trips and travellers and policies available, Outstanding Value Awards were awarded across four distinct categories:

Winner / Award

Southern Cross Travel Insurance / TINZ - Outstanding international travel insurance

NZ Travel Insurance / Worldcare - Outstanding trans-Tasman travel insurance

ANZ / Worldcare - Outstanding seniors travel insurance

House of Travel / Worldcare - South Pacific Cruise Travel Insurance

As with all insurance, it is important to check the policy details with the provider before purchasing to make sure they are suitable for an individual’s needs.

For further information please visit the Canstar website - https://www.canstar.co.nz/star-rating-reports/travel-insurance/

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