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Understand your travel insurance policy

So it’s time to read your travel insurance policy documents, and let’s guess, your eyes start to glaze over and you’re suddenly distracted by the TV?

We know there’s a lot to get your head around, and it's not the most interesting read. However, do you know that some words and phrases you’ll find in your Product Disclosure Statement have a special meanings?

That’s why we've highlighted some of the most important definitions you’ll need to understand. Believe us, some words don't always mean what they seem!

Keep reading to learn the meaning of these phrases to better understand your policy and avoid rejected claims.

Top travel insurance definitions

1. “Carrier” or “Carriers”

You'll need to understand what carrier means in case you’re trying to claim for a lost item. Sometimes you’re not covered for leaving an item behind in an aircraft, vehicle, train, tram, vessel, taxi, or other public transport operated under a licence for the purpose of transporting passengers, otherwise defined as ‘carrier’.

2. “Dependant”

Often dependants are included for free with travel insurance. However they’ll have to meet the criteria explained in the PDS. Dependants have to be your children or grandchildren, who are not in full time employment, who are under the age of 21 (age will vary from insurer to insure) and travelling with you on your Journey. For example you wouldn't be able to include your friend's children in your policy for free.

3. “Journey”

You’re only covered for your Journey from the time you leave your home to go directly to your destination, until you return back to your home.

4. “Locked Storage Compartment”

Don’t assume items stolen from your motor vehicle are covered if you leave them on display. Your items need to be kept in a locked storage compartment which either means a glove box, enclosed centre console, or concealed cargo area of a sedan, station wagon, hatchback, van or motorhome.

5. “Moped” or “Scooter” or “Motorcycle”

Your policy might say you’re covered for riding a moped or scooter, but it doesn’t mean your insured to ride a Harley! In most cases there are exclusions to do with the engine size of the bike you’re allowed to ride, and you’ll need the appropriate driving license. Always check your insurers PDS as some insurers won't even cover you with an engine displacement more than 50cc. Learn more about riding a motorbike overseas.

6. “Open Water Sailing”

Don’t go sailing the high seas without checking your policies small print – some insurers don’t cover sailing when you’re more than 10 nautical miles off any land mass. See what other adventure activites are covered.

7. “Pre-existing Medical Condition”

A pre-existing medical condition is a medical or physical condition, symptoms or circumstances that started before you took out your travel insurance. So even if you’ve had a condition years previously and had the 'all clear' from your doctor – it’s still vital that you inform your insurer of it.

A pre-existing condition could be:

a] An ongoing medical or dental condition of which you are aware, or related complication you have, or the symptoms of which you are aware;
b] A medical or dental condition that is currently being, or has been investigated, or treated by a health professional (including dentist or chiropractor) at any time in the past, prior to policy purchase;
c] Any condition for which you take prescribed medicine;
d] Any condition for which you have had surgery;
e] Any condition for which you see a medical specialist; or
f] Pregnancy.

It’s important to realise that pre-existing medical conditions apply to everyone listed on the certificate of insurance - so the person who buys the travel insurance policy, travelling companions, and close relatives too. Find out more about pre-existing medical conditions.

8. “Unsupervised” “Unattended”

We often hear insurers saying you’re not covered for lost or stolen items if you leave items ‘unsupervised’ or ‘unattended’ in a ‘public place’.

If you do leave an item in a public place and then go back to get it later and it’s not there…unfortunately you won't be insured.

Leaving something unsupervised is when you leave it:

• With a person who is not named on your Certificate of Insurance or who is not a Travelling Companion or who is not a Relative;
• With a person who is named on your Certificate of Insurance or who is a Travelling Companion or who is a Relative but who fails to keep your Luggage and Personal Effects under close supervision; or
• Where they can be taken without your knowledge; or
• At such a distance from you that you are unable to prevent them being taken.

Unsupervised includes forgetting or misplacing items of your Luggage and Personal Effects, leaving them behind or walking away from them.

9. “Reasonable”

This is often talked about when claiming for delay expenses. But it’s a tricky one, as how can you know what’s ‘reasonable’ without an exact amount in mind? The best way to think about this is to be sensible. It’s pretty obvious that if you’re delayed and book yourself into a 5 star resort and go to a Michelin star restaurant for dinner, chances are you wouldn’t be able to claim. Think before you spend the cash, as you might not get it all back!

10. “Relative”

Travel insurance covers you, and emergencies that happen to your close relatives. But there are often exclusions relating to what a ‘relative’ is defined as.

Many insurers have age restrictions with relatives, so if you had to urgently return home because one of your elderly parents fell ill, but they were over the specified age of cover, then you’re flights would not be claimable.

You’re also unable to claim for a distant aunt for example or friends. Relatives only refer to you and your Travelling Companion’s spouse, de facto partner, parent, parent-in-law, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, son in-law, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, stepparent, step-son, step-daughter, fiancé or fiancée, or guardian.

11. “Rental Vehicle”

You can’t go hiring a Lamborghini and expect your standard travel insurance to cover the liability or excess. Rental Vehicle Excess Cover will generally provide protection for a campervan or motorhome that does not exceed 4.5 tonnes, a sedan, hatchback or station-wagon, four wheel drive, or mini bus that has been rented from a licensed motor vehicle rental company.

12. “Travelling Companion”

Your travelling companion is the person whom you have made arrangements with, before your policy was issued, to travel with you for at least 75% of your Journey.


Need some help? Use the search box below to find answers to all those tricky travel insurance questions. We’ve got heaps of travel insurance tips to help you get the best policy for your upcoming holiday!


Ask Eugene travel insurance geek extraordinaire anything

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