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travel insurance truths


As the warmer weather approaches dozens of Kiwis are preparing to shed their winter layers and bask in some well-earned time off. 

Avid travellers and time-poor families alike will start to sleuth for summertime bargains and package deals with the vast majority of holidaymakers choosing to utilize the extended December/January break.  

However, many will discount travel insurance from their itineraries or leave it until the very last minute says research from

Natalie Ball, director of says: “Many of our customers will try to buy cover on the way to the airport or only make enquiries once overseas. Our research also tells us that more that 28% of people will forego travel insurance altogether.  It’s apparent that many travellers don’t understand the importance of travel insurance until they run into trouble.” 

Ball continues:  

“All too often you hear the horror stories; the injured backpacker who cannot pay their exorbitant overseas medical fees, the tourists who are left out of pocket after a mugging or the poor passenger who’s waited days on end for luggage that won’t arrive. It’s our aim to educate the public on the consequences of not taking out cover. While travel insurance can be confusing, getting your head around some common misconceptions can assist your understanding.” 

1. Cover starts the day you buy your policy

Certain benefits, including cancellation cover, actually kick-in the day you buy your policy. That way, if an unexpected emergency forces you to cancel in the days preceding your trip, you’ll be eligible to claim for any non-refundable costs.  

2. Not all missed flights are considered equal 

Despite your mad dash to the gate you’ve missed your flight. Whoops! Just don’t assume you’ll be covered by travel insurance as running late does not give you cause to claim. Similarly, missed flights caused by mechanical issues, overbooking, or aircraft maintenance would be regarded as the airline’s responsible to cover, not your insurers. 

3. Out of sight, out of pocket 

While your luggage and personal items may be covered for theft, damage and loss, it’s your responsibility to keep them protected as best you can. You claim may be rejected for instance, if your belongings were ‘unattended’ or ‘unsupervised.’ These definitions can differ from one insurer to the next but generally, belongings left behind in taxis, restrooms and even conveyer belts wouldn’t be covered. In some extreme cases insurers will not cover your items when left in a hotel room safe, so check the fine print to be sure.   

4. Per item limits apply 

Most travel policies will allow you to register your high-value belongings along with your travel policy. However, what most people fail to note is that that a sub-limit exists for each item. While $10,000 worth of luggage cover might sound like plenty, you may only be able to claim a maximum of $750 per item. It’s important that you check your sub-limits and ensure that your expensive items are covered sufficiently.  

5. The sooner you buy, the better 

Booked your trip? Now’s the best time to buy travel insurance. When it comes to cancellation cover for events such as a national disaster, cut-off dates usually apply. This means that once a volcanic eruption or earthquake has occurred, you can no longer buy insurance for that specific event. Purchasing a policy well in advance of your trip will ensure you’re covered if a crisis arises.  

6. Attention to detail is key 

One size definitely doesn’t fit all in the world of travel insurance. The type of policy you buy can vary immensely and it’s imperative that you take the time to research those differences. Price can be a key factor here, with cheaper, basic travel insurance policies generally providing medical only coverage and comprehensive policies covering travel delays, cancellation and a host of additional benefits. 

7. Think before you bling  

Planning to dazzle those at your travel destination with your collection of gems and diamonds? Think again as quite often travel insurance will not cover expensive items of jewellery. If you are planning to travel with a sizable diamond ring you could look into paying an additional premium to cover your bit of bling. Alternately you could also look at insuring your valuables under your home and contents policy. 

8. Consider pre-existing conditions  

Most travellers know they need to declare their pre-existing medical conditions, but often they’re unsure as to what this actually entails. Even an illness, injury or surgical procedure you had a few years back will need to be declared; failure to do so could result in an unpaid claim. 

9. Booze can bust your cover 

For some, holidays aren’t complete without a cool cocktail or two. While a mild buzz is acceptable, too much holiday spirit combined with reckless behaviour may jeopardize your cover. As a rule of thumb, if you’re too tipsy to make wise decisions, you shouldn’t bank on travel insurance to save the day.  

10. Age is of the essence 

Should a relative fall ill or pass away while you are overseas, travel insurance will usually cover the cost to get you back home. However, some policies will apply restrictions to relatives over a certain age. Most insurers will exclude family emergency cover if the relative is over 80 while some insurers won’t impose any age restrictions. It’s also worth being mindful that should the family member in question suffer from a pre-existing condition (regardless of age), your return home may not be covered.  

A final word 

Travel insurance can be a lifesaver provided you take the time to find the right policy. Taking into account all the various exclusions, making the decision to take cover when heading abroad can save you insurmountable costs. Research your options and think hard before you forego insurance; it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind! 

Further reading


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