Travelling is one of the greatest ways Aussies can see the world. While our own country is great for local tourism, our seclusion from much of the world makes exploring other countries a thrilling experience.
Travelling is more popular than ever in Australia. A decade ago, there were 18.6 border crossings, according to a recent Australian Bureau of Statistics report. This included people leaving and arriving in the country over the 2003-2004 period.
Today, that number has almost doubled, with 16.35 million arrivals and 16.28 million departures, the greatest majority of which (96.5 per cent) are for short-term trips of less than a year.
However, consumer group Choice says travellers are leaving themselves open to a great number of risks by hurriedly purchasing travel insurance – something that can greatly affect the standard of health care they receive in a foreign country.
Finding travel insurance in Australia
In the 2012-2013 financial year, 10 per cent of travel insurance claims were unpaid, most of which were due to a misunderstanding of the policy by the consumer, Choice discovered.
Especially when in unfamiliar lands, incorrect levels of health insurance can leave travellers open to a range of risks and expenses.
"Not all [policies] provide cover for things like contracting Ebola or injuries sustained while enjoying a tipple. So if you have a few drinks, then slip and break a leg, this may not be covered because, arguably, it happened while you were under the influence," the consumer group said.
"Not all activities, for example riding a moped or jumping out of a plane, are covered."
Jetsetters are advised to consider the activities they may be likely to do while travelling to help mitigate against any injuries or illnesses that could be sustained.
Help choosing health insurance policies
As one cause of underinsurance, many consumers are unable to engage with their insurance policies, with many insurance and comparison websites pressuring the consumer to make a purchase and rushing their decision.
Choice found that Jetstar Essentials offered customers a mere 10 minutes to read a document detailing their cover before the online checkout process timed out. The consumer group said it would take an average person about an hour to read such a lengthy policy.
Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said the complexity of arranging travel insurance requires careful consideration.
"Insurance policies can be complex products and consumers need to take time to ensure they are selecting a policy right for them," Mr Godfrey said.
Your health insurance broker will be able to unpack a complex insurance policy and create a travel insurance package that works for you.
To help plan your next expedition and compare health insurance policy costs, inclusions and exclusions, contact HICA and discuss any issues.