Why do I need travel insurance for Australia?
Travel insurance for Australia is essential because it will protect you in case something goes wrong while you’re thousands of miles from home.
If you get ill, lose your possessions, are targeted by criminals or have an accident while Down Under, travel insurance is there to safeguard your interests.
Travel insurance will also prevent you from ending up out of pocket if you have to cancel or cut short your trip to Australia unexpectedly - cover that’s well worth having when you consider the cost of holiday accommodation and flights to and from Oz.
What should my travel insurance policy for Australia include?
When buying a travel insurance policy for Australia, make sure it covers the following:
- Medical expenses - usually up to £5m.
- Repatriation to the UK - in case you have to be brought back for ongoing medical treatment or because you cannot use conventional travel methods.
- Cancellation or curtailment of your holiday.
- Delay and missed departures - in case unexpected events that are beyond your control (such as extreme weather) mean you miss your flight.
- Travel abandonment - in case travelling to your destination becomes impossible and you have to head home.
- Lost and stolen baggage.
- The loss or theft of your passport. While this isn’t included under all policies as standard, it may be worth paying extra for.
- Personal liability cover. This protects you in case something you do causes injury to someone else, or results in an item that belongs to them being lost or damaged.
Australia travel insurance: exclusions and things to watch out for
Most travel insurance policies come with exclusions. These are things you will be unable to claim for.
Common exclusions are:
- Pre-existing medical conditions. For example, if you have a chronic condition (such as high blood pressure) any illness that arises as a direct result will not be covered by your travel insurer.
- Unexpected incidents such as war, civil unrest, terrorism and natural disasters. Different policies will offer varying levels of cover, or none at all, so it is important to check your policy documents.
- Accidents or injuries that occur while you are under the influence of alcohol. If you drink too much while on holiday in Australia and go on to hurt yourself or a third party, your travel insurer is unlikely to pay out.
- Travel to locations that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued warnings about should be avoided.
- Accidents or injuries that happen while taking part in adventure sports that are not covered by your policy. If you plan on trying your hand at surfing or scuba diving off Australia’s stunning coast, make sure you have adequate travel insurance cover in place first.
Make sure you’re happy with the excess you will be expected to pay if you make a travel insurance claim. Setting a high excess might make your policy cheaper now, but it could put you in a difficult position later.
Also, be sure to start your travel insurance policy from the day you book your trip to Australia – not from the date when you are planning to travel - or you’ll have no cover in the event that you have to cancel your holiday.
What about the UK’s reciprocal health care agreement with Australia?
The reciprocal health care agreement that exists between the UK and Australia means you will be able to access some medical treatments for free if you need them while on holiday.
However, it is a safety net that will only provide support for you in very specific situations, and it is no substitute for a travel insurance policy.
You’ll need to be a UK resident in order to qualify for treatment under the arrangement, and will probably need to present your passport when accessing medical help.
The agreement does not allow for the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions, or of illnesses and injuries that require non-urgent medical attention. Nor does it cover the prescription of medicines when you are not a hospital in-patient.
Repatriation to the UK is not included under the reciprocal health care agreement, and neither is the use of Australia’s ambulance service. Even if you were treated for free in an Australian hospital, therefore, you might still be faced with paying the bill for your journey to A&E.
Top travel tips for Australia
1. Apply for your visa online
You’ll need a visa when you visit Australia, and the simplest way to get one is to apply online using the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website. This is completely free.
2. Plan your trip properly
As obvious as it sounds, Australia is huge. Remember, it’s a Continent as well as a country, so be realistic about how much of it you’re really going to be able to see during your trip.
If it’s a relaxing holiday you’re after and you’re going to be spending weeks rather than months Down Under, it may be a good idea to try to see fewer places, but enjoy them for longer.
3. Be sun safe
Of course you’re expecting Australia to be hot - but don’t underestimate the intensity of the sun you’ll be worshipping while you’re on holiday there. Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.
Just 30 minutes of exposure to the sun down under could see you severely burnt - and that could be enough to damage your skin permanently.
Take high quality, high factor sun protection products with you when you go to Australia, and apply them frequently. Make sure you also wear a hat, wear sunglasses, cover up with loose, light clothing and regularly seek some shade.
4. Grab an adapter
You could be forgiven for thinking that the plug sockets in Australia might be the same as those we use at home. But they aren’t - and nor will European or American plug adapters work in Oz.
Instead, you’ll need a plug adapter that’s specific to Australia, so make sure you buy one before jetting off.
5. Mind the gap
Many of those who travel to Australia from the UK each year do so intending to stay for some time, but if you’re planning to be in Oz for a prolonged period, make sure you are properly covered.
Most travel insurance policies will only provide you with 30 - 60 consecutive days of cover per destination you visit. If you stay for longer, you won’t be able to claim should something go wrong.
Some travel insurers now offer special ‘backpacker’ policies for people who take extended trips abroad, so check whether one of these might be more suitable for you.