31 Tips for Finding the Best Family Travel Insurance Policy

Travel Insurance is essential for young adventurers
Travel Insurance is essential for young adventurers

Searching for the best family travel insurance policy for your family is not fun. Unfortunately, it’s an important part of a family holiday and important to get right. It can be sometimes confusing to know what is right for you with a myriad of travel insurance policies and Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) to compare.

We’ve purchased a variety of different travel insurance policies – here’s our list of tips for finding the best family travel insurance for your family.

31 Tips for Finding the Best Family Travel Insurance Policy is in collaboration with Allianz Insurance.

All opinions remain my very own.

 

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1. Zero Excess Is Best

What is an excess?

The excess is the amount of money you contribute towards your loss before the insurer pays the remaining amount. Excesses can vary from $0 – $500 and occasionally higher.

A large excess reduces the total cost or premium of the travel insurance policy. Although it’s tempting to save a few dollars by increasing the excess, by paying more premium for a policy with a zero or nil excess means that when making a legitimate claim no matter how small, you are never out of pocket for the claim.

Travel Insurance Tips Families
Zero excess makes small items like lost sunnies a worthwhile claim.

An excess is not a one-off payment

Most travel insurance providers treat each event as a separate claim. Let’s say a family member was sick during the trip and you also damaged a camera on the same trip, these are classed as two separate events under different sections of the policy.

Let’s say if the insurance excess was $500, the total excess payable is $1000 (2 x $500), paid on each event in this case under ‘Medical’ (sickness) and ‘Travel Luggage’ (damaged camera).

The amount out of pocket can add up for families where there are multiple policyholders, each can make several claims.

A zero or nil excess makes even the smallest valid claims worthwhile. Say you lost a $250 pair of sunglasses, if you had a high excess which was greater than this amount then, it may not be worth making a claim. With a zero or nil excess, even after factoring in the heavy depreciation, it would still be worthwhile to claim some money towards a new pair.

2. Don’t get drunk or act recklessly

A friend of mine slipped over on a wet tile floor at a bachelor party in Bali and had major facial injuries requiring urgent and expensive medical attention. The insurer rejected the hefty medical claim because he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Any reckless behaviour such as taking drugs, consuming alcohol or irresponsible behaviour, like riding a motorbike without a helmet or speeding, can void or drastically reduce an insurance claim.

3. Get Rental Vehicle Excess if you can

Hire car companies do offer insurance cover for theft and damage of a rental vehicle. However, there’s often a huge excess ranging from $3K – $5K+ that needs to be paid.

Travel insurance provides an option to cover rental vehicle excess that covers the thousands of dollars out of pocket in the event of an accident. It’s absolutely worth paying the little extra to avoid any hire car surprises.

Be mindful that some travel insurance policies only cover international travel and not domestic car hire. The coverage can differ when travelling overseas compared to driving on home soil. Be aware that insurers set a maximum benefit for coverage, and most peak at $6K. There are options to cover a higher amount.

Before hiring a car, take note of the rental car insurance policy details to ensure there’s not out of pocket extras.

Travel insurance tips - best travel insurane
Car rental vehicle excess is great for insuring road tripping families

4. Don’t leave valuables unattended in cars

Our friends were driving in Italy when they made a brief stop at a roadside restaurant. While inside, they had their bags stolen from the backseat of their locked car. Their claim wasn’t covered as most travel insurance policies stipulate valuables are not to be left unattended in vehicles.

Some insurers deny claims where valuables have been left unattended in a car, even if it’s locked up in the boot. Allianz Travel Insurance cover items locked in a concealed storage compartment provided this occurs during daylight hours.

5. You get what you pay for

Always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) – every last word. Travel insurance providers often underwrite several different types of policies. Therefore, the cover is not always the same.
As an example, we had taken out a Family Travel Insurance policy with a provider as it was similar to the one provided by another company which had the same underwriter taken out the year before, only much cheaper.

When I made a claim, I found that although the wording and cover were very similar, the benefits were much less and it wasn’t enough to cover my entire family.

In some cases, the cheaper the travel insurance policy, the smaller the coverage and so often it really is you get what you pay for.

Read the Product Disclosure Document of your travel insurance policy
Read every last word of the PDS

6. Pay attention to government warnings

Insurers will not cover destinations or regions that the Australian government has specifically warned travellers not to travel to.

To date, the Australian Government has advised against travelling to Area 3 near the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan. Any insurance claims related to travel in the area will be void due to the government warning.

7. Trip cancellation and Trip delays cannot be claimed together

We were stranded in Dubai when severe fog delayed our flight halfway through our journey. The delays caused severe disruption and the airline ultimately cancelled our flight and we weren’t able to make it to our intended destination.

As a result of the delay and flight cancellation, we had to forfeit hotel accommodation at our intended destination that had been prepaid in full. The delay and flight cancellation meant paying for last minute, costly accommodation in Dubai.

Most travel insurance policies do not cover both the cost of the emergency accommodation and the loss of all the prepaid accommodation once the trip is cancelled.

In our case the emergency week-long emergency accommodation in Dubai had cost the same as the 4 day stay we had pre-paid in a resort at our intended destination.

We were out of pocket for the 4 days resort at our intended destination.

Travel insurance tips for families - trip delays and trip cancellations
Trip delays and trip cancellations cannot be combined

8. Request extension of cover before policy expires

In the event that you stay longer than intended, most insurers may extend your current travel policy by a certain period by paying an extra amount.

Some insurers may extend the policy free of charge if the delay is a result of a claim i.e. being unfit to fly due to illness.

An extension cannot be applied if your travel insurance policy has expired. As such, you must notify the insurer before the policy expires. Furthermore, some insurers cannot issue travel insurance once a journey has already commenced, leaving your family without travel insurance during the extended period.

9. Purchase travel insurance before or on the day of booking your holiday

Travel insurance cover only applies from the date you purchase the travel insurance policy.

Pre-trip cancellation cover

Pre-trip cancellation cover is valid prior to the date of departure. For instance, you cannot claim on trip cancellation from a flight delay after the delay has occurred, but prior to buying a travel insurance policy.

We have a friend who booked a short family cruise, however they all contracted gastro days before the cruise departure. Unfortunately, they left purchasing a travel insurance policy until the last minute. Unfit to travel, they were forced to cancel their cruise and forfeit the cost of the trip for which they had paid for in full with no recourse for a refund. Had they purchased travel insurance at the time of booking their cruise, this would have been covered under the cancellation policy.
Don’t leave it to the last minute

Best family travel insurance tip: Buy insurance before departure
Cover your family by purchasing travel insurance before you leave.

Cover yourself as early as possible

It’s important to buy your travel insurance policy prior to when you need it or as close to the date of booking to ensure you’re covered for unexpected events that can occur before your departure.

Some valid cancellation coverage includes illness, flight delays, family emergency or extreme weather.

Check the coverage of your particular travel insurance policy as cancellation cover varies from one policy to another, and it’s important to read the fine print to understand what is covered. For instance, some policies cover pre-trip cancellation due to work commitments as an extra whilst others do not.

10. Report lost or stolen personal items within 24 hours

Most travel insurance policies require any lost or stolen personal items to be reported to the police within 24 hours and a written report obtained as evidence for the claim.

Reporting a lost or stolen item can be difficult with kids and more so in a region where you don’t speak the local language.

If you had an item lost or stolen on a transport provider, then notifying the transport provider and obtaining a written report with evidence of date and time is often enough evidence for the claim. A police report may not be required. Check your specific wording for details on what evidence may be required to substantiate your claim.

11. Report a medical condition ASAP

If you or your family member fall ill or becomes injured during your trip, it’s important to call the travel insurance 24-hour hotline for emergency assistance.

Most insurance providers may not pay large medical costs without first being notified. Inform the insurer that you intend on making a claim under Medical Cover, so that they have a record on their system to help the claims process later on.

The emergency assistance line can provide information as to which medical facility to visit and what is covered. In the event that medical costs may be high, the emergency assistance can authorise guarantees for payment to the hospital and organise emergency evacuations if necessary.

For all claims, make sure you obtain a copy of all the bills, medical reports and, where possible, photographic evidence to support your claim.

Keep receipts best travel insurance tips for families
Sick kids are covered provided you keep receipts and documents.

12. Keep receipts for a smooth claims process

To ensure a smooth travel insurance claim process have all receipts of your valuable items you are taking on your holiday in a safe place. Do not take these original receipts with you on your trip as they are needed when making a claim.

Always make a couple of copies of the full set of receipts. I scan my receipts and keep them in a file on a USB key. Travel insurance providers may require the original receipts when making a claim for loss, theft or damage to luggage and personal effects, so make sure you keep the originals too.

If making a claim for expenses incurred on your trip, keep a copy of your receipts in a safe place before sending originals to the insurer along with your claim forms.

Examples of expenses include medical bills, receipts for medicine, food receipts during a travel delay, or credit card statements showing purchase of emergency items for lost luggage.

Before departure, I always take a photo of all the valuables I’m taking on our family trip with a copy of the latest newspaper as proof of date.

13. Be wary of travel insurance policies covered under a credit card

Some credit cards offer ‘complimentary’ travel insurance if the travel was purchased on the credit card, such as cruises, flights and hotel bookings.

Be careful of the level of cover provided from the credit card insurance policy. Some benefits can be very basic, including a capped amount for medical and liability cover, exclusion of domestic travel, high excess or no coverage for skiing or cruising.

Another reason to check the credit card insurance cover is that the policy may only apply to the primary cardholder.

Credit card travel insurance policies vary and it’s important to read the fine print to know if there is enough cover to suit your requirements.

14. Make sure benefit amount is enough to cover your entire family

Be mindful of family travel insurance benefits. Most insurance policies have a set amount for the two adults (duo), which must cover every child on the policy. Others have a ‘family’ cover with a fixed sum. Ensure that the amount either for two adults or the slightly larger family amount provides adequate cover for all members of the family.

The benefit amount is particularly important for families with a large number of children. Consider if this is enough for the whole family to cover emergency essentials like pyjamas, full sets of clothing, medicines, toiletries as well as accommodation.

Travel insurance tip - family insurance for every member
Does your insurance policy cover all members of your family?

15. Ensure cruising is covered

If your family is going on a cruise, make sure the wording of the PDS includes cruise cover for the regions on your cruise itinerary.

I have taken out a multi trip travel insurance policy that did not specifically state that our cruise was covered. The wording, however, didn’t say that it was not covered either. Before departure, ring the travel insurance provider to confirm that cruise cover is provided and have it added as a reference in their system, and confirmed as an endorsement on your certificate of insurance

When making calls to confirm cruise insurance cover, take note of the date and time of your call and the name of the representative, in case there is a discrepancy with the claim later down the track.

For an optional extra, some travel insurance policies specifically offer cruise insurance as a separate section or ‘pack’ in their travel insurance policy which you may need to pay extra for.

Best travel insurance tip - check for cruise coverage
If going on a cruise, check that cruising is covered.

16. Make sure ski and snow travel is covered

A ski or snowboard holiday is often covered as an optional extra in family travel insurance policies.

Specific things to look out for in ski insurance cover include whether the amount for loss, damage or stolen ski gear covers your family’s entire equipment, whether loss, stolen or damage cover is applied to hired gear, and whether a family member is eligible to rent ski equipment in the event of loss, damage or theft.

17. Check your Trip or Journey Cover

Whilst international trips are generally covered without issue (see also Point 19 regarding geographical coverage), some family travel insurance policies aren’t clear on domestic trip cover and have various exclusions.

For domestic travel, some travel policies require you to travel a certain distance from home before the travel insurance applies, which can range from 50km to 200km for the travel insurance applied. For info on international travel, see point 19 below.

Some travel policies also require the mode of transport on the trip to be purchased or hired e.g. a bus, ferry, hire car or plane ticket in order for the trip to be covered. In this instance, taking a road trip around Australia, regardless of distance travelled, is not covered under some travel insurance policies.

We hired a 4WD to Fraser Island. If we had taken our own car, our travel insurance policy would not have covered any possible damage or accidents in our car whilst on the island. Some insurers only cover accidents on the mainland, on paved roads, and where the distance travelled from your primary residence is 50km or greater.

Look out for a travel insurance policy that have limitations on domestic travel including distances and mode of transportation.

Aussie Trax 4WD Hire on Fraser Island
Check trip journey coverage on your travel insurance policy – is sand driving covered?

18. Save money on multi-trip annual family travel insurance

If your family takes more than one holiday a year, including domestic trips, it’s worth looking into an annual or multi-trip policy rather than several one-off policies. There’s less hassle insuring for the entire year rather than taking out a travel insurance policy each time.

As frequent travellers, we have an annual multi-trip family travel insurance policy. What we love about this travel policy is that we are getting the small, spontaneous trips such as long weekends away or rendezvous with family covered when we wouldn’t necessarily have them covered as stand-alone trips.

There are options of taking only international, domestic or both types of travel cover. Note that some multi-trip travel insurance policies have a set amount of travel days before requiring an extension or a trip home.

19. Make sure all your geographical regions are covered

For some travel insurance policies, families need to nominate which regions they are travelling to. This can be beneficial if your family does not intend to travel to the pricier countries that require a higher premium.

The USA is one of the regions that can push up the travel insurance premium due to the high legal and medical costs associated with travel in America.

If travelling to multiple countries or regions, it’s particularly important to check that you’re covered for the places you intend to visit. For multi-trip policies, it’s a simple matter of adding that region to the policy and paying the extra amount before your departure. Always check with your insurer to make sure.

20. Make sure travel delays cover all of your family

Travel Policies vary on travel delays and the time the cover kicks in. As an example, Allianz Travel Insurance provides a flat amount of $200 after the first 6 hours and then $200 for each full 24 hour period thereafter – up to the maximum benefit for the plan selected.

For emergency travel accommodation required due to delay, look for the highest benefits that covers your entire family.

Look for cover that provides the most benefit per adult or a set benefit for family and the least amount of delay time before you can claim cover. For accommodation expenses that arise from delay, look for the highest benefit covered.

As an example, we once had a travel insurance policy that provided $2,000 for the entire family to stay last minute in Dubai for an entire week – which only covered 4 out of the 7 days.

Not enough insurance coverage on our emergency Dubai stay.
Not enough insurance coverage on our emergency Dubai stay.

21. Make sure your pregnancy cover is sufficient and read up on exclusions

Travel insurance for pregnancy is rather tricky and extra care must be taken when deciding on insurance. There are a lot of variations in travel policies when it comes to travelling whilst pregnant.

Travel insurance policies will not cover pregnant travellers past a certain time period – check the PDS for the type of pregnancy covered and how many weeks.

There is usually no cover for childbirth or the health of a newborn child. Insurers are also wary of covering women who have had medical assisted pregnancies, i.e. IVF, or a pregnancy that has had prior complications. It’s best to identify all aspects and obtain written confirmation of cover prior to departure.

22. Look for a policy with missed departure or missed connection benefit

Most travel insurance policies do not cover missed departure or a missed connection, even if you had allowed the appropriate amount of transit time between connections. In most cases, it’s reasonable to allow 3 hours between connections.

However, there are little gems of travel insurance policies that provide coverage in case you miss the connection or departure of your onward flight. Cover expenses incurred to reach your final destination including hotel accommodations or new flights.

There must be a valid reason for your family’s missed departure or connection that can’t be reimbursed from the carrier. Some inclusions for cover include severe weather, being involved in a traffic accident or getting injured.

There is an image that comes to mind taken of a devastated lady where a cruise ship had departed without her – she’s on her knees with bags of shopping on either side of her – one of the many invalid reasons for a missed departure which would be void when making a claim.

Transits through an airport - is your family covered for missed departures?
Transits through an airport – is your family covered for missed departures?

23. Ensure pre-existing medical conditions can be covered

If you have suffered a pre-existing medical condition (PMC), depending on the condition, most travel insurance providers can provide cover as a verified PMC.

If there are any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s best to be frank and disclose all medical conditions with the travel insurance provider. Travel insurers have the ability to void a claim if a PMC that wasn’t declared is discovered.

Depending on the severity of the condition, medical reports and extra screening may be required to cover a pre-existing medical condition. There may be opportunity to cover a pre-existing condition by paying an additional premium, subject to approval by the insurer. Prior health related conditions could include: diagnosed cancer in remission, heart conditions or recent injury.

There are also some pre-existing medical conditions that do not cost extra to cover and are automatically covered upon disclosure. These could include asthma, some types of diabetes, cataracts, hip replacement and epilepsy.

24. Look for ‘unlimited’ medical cover

In the event that major medical cover or medical evacuation is required for the entire family, the medical costs can quickly add up, especially in countries that do not have a medical safety net like Medicare available.

Look for travel insurance policies that provide unlimited medical cover. It may sound extreme, but when it comes to medical attention for you and your family, it’s better to have more cover than not enough.

25. Is Trip Cancellation covered and what benefits are there to look for?

Trip cancellation is one of those categories in a travel insurance policy that can be surrounded by fine print. Read the PDS carefully as there are lots of variations when it comes to what is covered under Trip Cancellation. Natural disasters, severe weather, injury, illness or death in the family are some of the valid reasons for cancelling a trip.

The type of cancellation cover varies, as some travel insurance policies cover jury duty, change of mind and work commitments whilst other do not. Look for the cancellation cover that best suits you and your family’s circumstances.

Most travel insurance policies allow you to nominate an amount to cover for your entire family. A high amount results in a higher insurance premium.

When specifying a dollar value to cover trip cancellation for the entire family, calculate what it would cost to cancel a fully paid, non-refundable holiday. This includes accommodation, pre-booked tours, transfers, pre-purchased tickets to events, connections, flights and transportation for the entire family and any penalties, fine or fees payable for a no-show.

There may be a specified amount you can claim per travel category e.g. tickets for shows and theme parks.

26. Look for Trip Curtailment and Resumption of Journey cover

In the event that you want to cancel your trip and return home after you’ve commenced the journey, there are some travel insurers that allow you and your family to cut the holiday short.

Valid reasons to curtail a trip may include death of a relative at home, serious illness or injury.

Similarly, insurers can pay for costs incurred to resume your journey from the point of curtailment as part of the Resumption of Journey cover.

27. Look for 24-hour phone support

Good travel insurance providers are not just available online, they provide an emergency assistance hotline that is available 24 hours.

Global travel insurance providers have an international team that is available to assist round the clock. Before taking out a family travel insurance policy, check whether the insurer offers a 24-hour hotline and ask whether this is a team based in Australia or in off-shore call centres.

Note that emergency assistance is just that – they can provide some assistance and direct you to a medical team depending on the severity of the request.

Does your travel insurance offer 24/7 phone support?
Does your travel insurance offer 24/7 phone support?

28. Things to know about depreciation

When making a claim for lost, stolen or damaged items, travel insurance providers find the original value of the item, and then minuses the age of the item to calculate the amount of money to pay out.

There are different calculations depending on the item type and its life expectancy. Jewellery for instance can have a 10-year shelf life whilst electronic devices including iPods and iPads often have 3 years.

It’s important to provide proof of the age of lost, damaged or stolen item. Depreciation rates differ across insurers as well as items, so check to see what these are.

If you cannot provide proof of an item’s price with a receipt, check with your insurer to see what their requirements are as an alternative.

A way to avoid having depreciation calculated on a lost, stolen or damaged item is by paying an extra premium, which enables you to list a valuable item on the travel insurance policy.

29. Lodge claims within 30 days of travel

It’s important to lodge a claim with your travel insurance provider within 30 days of returning from your holiday. Failure to submit a claim in this time can adversely impact the chance of your travel insurance claim being successful.

Even if you do not have all the right paperwork in place i.e. receipts, damage reports and credit card statements, you’re permitted to start the claims process by submitting part of the claim details before all the paperwork is in place.

30. Travel with a copy of your family travel insurance documents

I travel with a copy of my certificate of insurance (COI) and Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) on hand in case of an emergency. Having the insurer’s contact details and insurance policy number also helps the insurer to rapidly assist.

Other details that can come in handy include a copy of all family members’ passports, Medicare card details and drivers’ license for the adults. This assists in verifying identity at hospitals and with the consular.

Times ticking - submit travel insurance claims within 30 days.
Times ticking – submit travel insurance claims within 30 days.

31. Consider if adventure sports need cover

If intending on trying adventure sports such as sky diving, jet skiing and motorbike riding or, check if you and your family are covered for these activities under your travel insurance policy.

Travel insurance policies often include a list of adventure activities included, such as zip-lining, riding tuk-tuks, and horse riding. Those that are not specifically included can be assumed excluded until confirmed and verified by the insurer.

Thanks for reading – summary

We hope that this long list of travel insurance tips are able to assist in helping you identify what your non-negotiable items are when it comes to finding the best family travel insurance policy for your needs.

Relax with the right travel insurance coverage.
Relax with the right travel insurance coverage.

Comprehensive travel insurance for your family – Allianz Travel Insurance

Ready to buy family travel insurance?

We recommend Allianz Travel Insurance for comprehensive cover for your family, click here to find out more or phone 13 1000 to obtain a quote.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Before making a decision to purchase the policy please consider the Product Disclosure Statement. Terms, conditions, exclusion, limits and excesses apply.

Travel insurance is issued and managed by AWP Australia Pty Ltd ABN 52 097 227 177 AFSL 245631 trading as Allianz Global Assistance (AGA) as agent of the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708. If you purchase this insurance AGA will receive a commission that is a percentage of the premium.

Have you got any good travel insurance tips for families, we’d love to hear more, leave a reply below:

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