There’s nothing worse than getting stuck overseas or interstate with missing bags, stolen items, damage to your rental vehicle or other unanticipated mishaps. It’s great peace of mind to know in advance what your specific policy will, and won’t, cover.

It pays to scrutinise the terms of your travel insurance carefully before you buy so you are fully aware of the terms in advance.

A client of ours’ son had a skiing accident in the US and had to be air-evacuated back to Australia with medical personnel on board. Thankfully, this was covered by his insurance policy, as without this cover it would have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars, not including all of the treatment on the ground at the hospital overseas.

Check terms before you travel

Beware of the terms of travel insurance for things such as pre-existing medical conditions, which you may not be covered for in the event of an emergency. If anything does go wrong, it will really pay to have made sure you have the best wordings and conditions that you can get rather than just looking for the cheapest price. For example, if you have a pre-existing heart condition and you travel overseas, if you should have a heart attack while travelling, will your insurance cover this event?

Remember the case of the young Australian Girl who was holidaying in Las Vegas earlier this year when she was hit by a car while crossing the road. While their daughter lay in a coma, her parents received a call from the Insurer saying that they would not be covering her costs as she had allegedly been found to be intoxicated at the time.

You can be prepared while travelling by having a copy of your credit cards, passports, registrations and insurance policy located safely in a hotel safe or similar.

If something does go wrong, it’s important to report the loss to authorities, and obtain something it writing, as soon as possible and to log all the emails and conversations you have about the event, so that you have evidence for your insurer.

TOP TIPS: Things to look out for when purchasing travel insurance

Destination exclusion

Check that your policy covers you for the destination you're going to before you apply. It sounds obvious, but policies vary. For example, worldwide cover doesn't always include the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.

Limits on trips for your Frequent Traveller Policies

Check how many consecutive days travelling you'll be covered for. Limits vary depending on the provider, and if you go over this limit, even if it's only by a day, you will invalidate your insurance.

Pre-existing conditions

Some health conditions may prevent your coverage being valid in the event of illness. Be honest about any medical conditions, even if it pushes costs up, and check your terms carefully.

Receiving Medical Treatment Overseas

You may be required to provide a medical certificate/report when lodging your claim for Medical Expenses overseas, this will be difficult to obtain after the event, so it is important to check your policy to make sure this is not a requirement of making a claim. A receipt on its own my not be accepted by the insurer.

If you travel overseas you can get help with the cost of essential medical treatment in some countries under the Australian Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreements. The Australian Government has agreements with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. These agreements mean Australian residents can get help with the cost of essential medical treatment when visiting these countries, some insurers will insist that you utilise the reciprocal agreement whenever possible.

Dental Treatment Overseas

Some policies will only cover treatment resulting from Accident and have limits applicable to the cover which may not be very high.

Action and adventure

If you’re planning to enjoy some adventure while travelling, such as scuba diving, bungee jumping or even renting a motorbike or scooter to get around on, you’ll want to check that your travel insurance will cover you in the event of an accident. Some policies will exclude these 'hazardous' activities, while others will cover you providing you pay a little extra.

Treatment of your belongings

Your insurer will expect you to take reasonable care of your belongings. If you're found to be negligent, they may refuse to pay out. Many policies, for example, will only cover theft or accidental loss of cash if it went missing while on your person or locked away in a safety deposit box in your room.

Missed flights

If you miss your flight through no fault of your own, the bad news is many basic travel insurance policies won't cover you for new flights. Even if your policy does cover you, it's important to know what you will need to do to make a claim. Some insurers will ask for evidence that you left your home in sufficient time to make the flight, while others have specified time-frames in which to make your claim.

Alcohol and drug use

Most insurers won't cover you if you're involved in an accident when you're under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs. Exclusions will vary depending on the provider.

Cancelling your trip

Although you can buy your travel insurance policy on the day you are jetting off, it can pay to buy it at the same time as booking your holiday. By doing so, you'll be covered if you need to cancel your holiday due to illness or redundancy, for example. But again, always check the terms of the specific policy you have purchased.

Remember to write down the details of the Emergency Assistance Phone Numbers on your Insurance together with the Policy Number and put this is a couple of places, rather than just in your wallet and phone.

Before your next Trip if you have any questions, or wish to discuss any of the point above or other matters relating to your Travel Insurance call us on (02) 8268 2900.