With summer drawing to a close, travel insurers are preparing for a busy month ahead as Australians plan their next holiday to warmer climates in the northern hemisphere. But out of everyone that secures a travel policy next month, more than a quarter will do so without considering the potential dangers that exist while on holiday overseas.
Grant Waldeck, spokesperson for leading insurance comparison website, comparethemarket.com.au – who expects peak comparisons in March – warns, that while many will secure their travel insurance next month, there will be a significant number of travellers who fail to purchase a policy that directly matches their needs, or worse, fail to purchase one at all.
“While this will be our busiest time of the year, there will remain a large portion of travellers who fail to take out any kind of policy,” says Grant. “As a result they’re leaving themselves open to sizable risks such as highly-expensive medical bills, the inability to replace lost or stolen items, or losing a portion of their holiday due to an unexpected cancellation or delay.”
“Alarmingly we do see many travellers booking their policy based on price alone. We urge Australians to also consider excess costs and what cover their policy stretches to. This should then be assessed against the level of risk involved with where they may be travelling before a purchase is made,” he said. “While locations such as Europe and the US may sound like a ‘safe bet’ when it comes to avoiding risk, dangers can occur in even the most prestige or built-up cities.”
Comparethemarket.com.au reveals 6 dangers below that Australians may not consider when booking their travel insurance policy this March. “If you are a seasoned traveller, hopefully these dangers won’t surprise you, however if they do, best you relook at your policy to check whether you are covered,” says Grant.
6 dangers to look out for while travelling
1. Scared of what’s lurking in the water? Sharks are the least of your worries! In many popular European and US holiday destinations it’s not Jaws that you need to be on the lookout for. “Many of these countries have waters with serious pollution. In fact recent reports¹ claim that the European Union is threatening to close at least 50 of the UK’s beach hot spots because of the issue and that every one of the US’s coastal states has a polluted beach,” says Grant. “Swimming in highly-polluted water can lead to a range of serious illnesses including hepatitis and stomach flu.”
2. Thousands of cruise passengers catch the Norovirus each year. Think you’ve experienced bad sea sickness? Think again. Norovirus is a highly contagious stomach bug characterised by extreme diarrhoea and vomiting that will knock you for six. “Cruise ships account for the same number of Norovirus outbreaks as schools and hospitals annually. It’s highly contagious and with 10.3 million travellers signing up to sail the seas each year, thousands are at risk,” says Grant.
3. You may not be covered by Australia’s reciprocal healthcare agreement. This mutual understanding between Australia and some EU Governments entitles Australians to free or subsidised healthcare. It’s important to understand that this agreement can alter from country to country, with some European nations not taking part at all. As an example, while Italy² is part of the agreement, healthcare is subsidised only and all costs are required to be paid upfront before treatment.
4. Traffic incidents are the number one cause of death for travellers. Approximately 1.3 million³ people are killed on the world’s roads each year. “In Bali alone, you’re more likely to be involved in a road accident than a bar brawl with reports of around 150 people hospitalised and at least three dying each day as a result of a road crash,” says Grant.
5. It’s not just speedboats and jet skis that can be fatal. Larger vessels such as fast-speed ferries can cause mass injury to tourists. In 2013 more than 80 people⁴ were seriously injured while travelling in a ferry on a popular tourist route in Hong Kong. This followed a ferry crash that claimed 39 lives the year prior on the same route. “All forms of water transport can be dangerous. Do your research and travel with reputable businesses recommended by your travel provider,” says Grant.
6. Pickpockets exist even in the wealthiest cities. “There’s the general perception that danger of pickpockets is highest at busy markets in developing countries however, major cities such as Greece, Paris, Madrid and Milan are also high-risk locations for having your wallet swiped,” says Grant.
3. World Health Organisation – Report on Road Safety 2009