Most common travel insurance questions

Posted Date: 26 August 2016
Common insurance questions

1. When does the policy start? From the date I purchase or from the date I travel? Does it cost more to buy in advance?

Great news! You are covered if you have to cancel or alter your trip due to an unexpected event from the date you purchase your TravelCare policy.

We recommend you purchase travel insurance as soon as you make any payments for your trip, such as cruise or accommodation deposits, or flights. You can purchase a TravelCare policy up to a year before your departure and it won’t cost you any extra! That way you’re covered if the unexpected happens.

All other sections of the TravelCare policy (such as medical and personal items cover) starts on the date you select as your ‘Start Date of Journey’, or the date you depart, whichever is later.

For more information on how to enter your policy dates when purchasing a TravelCare policy, click here. 

2. Do you cover natural disasters or extreme weather?

If your travel plans have to be altered, or even cancelled, due to an unexpected natural disaster, there’s cover under the policy for this.

However, if you buy your travel insurance or book your trip after the natural disaster has taken place, changes to your travel plans as a result of that disaster would not be considered an unexpected event under your policy and you would not be covered for those costs. If you’re unsure, contact us and we can advise whether you’d be covered under the policy or not.

3. How does rental car excess work? What does it cover?

If you hire a rental vehicle overseas, you will have cover under the TravelCare policy for the excess up to $5,000 NZD. The excess is what you may be charged if you damage the rental vehicle.  We recommend that you check the rental vehicle agreement to see whether the excess is less than $5,000 NZD because if it is, you won’t need to pay an additional fee to waiver the excess.

You just need to make sure that the vehicle is hired from a licensed rental vehicle agency and that you follow all road rules and local driving laws while using the vehicle. Any terms and conditions laid out by the rental company also need to be followed so that you’re covered – by them and by us!

Finally, just make sure that only the driver named on the rental documents is in charge of the vehicle and that it’s driven only on formed, paved roads or carparks – we can’t cover you if you choose to make your own roads!

4. If I have an accident at home and have to cancel my travel plans, will my flights be covered?

Injuries are no fun, but having to cancel your travel plans as a result is even worse!

Don’t worry, we can help if your doctor says you can’t travel because of an injury - just as long as the injury isn’t related to a pre-existing condition.

You might miss your trip, but at least you can focus on getting better while we cover any costs you can’t get refunded. Here’s a link to our FAQs page with all the information you need to know on how to submit your claim online.  

5. I am planning to visit a potentially dangerous country, am I covered?

That depends on whether or not there’s a travel advisory issued for the country on the SafeTravel website at the time you purchase your travel insurance policy.  

Let’s say you want to visit a country that currently has a ‘Do not travel’ or ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ travel advisory. If the advisory was issued before you bought your travel insurance, we wouldn’t cover you for events related to that advisory because we would not consider it unexpected if you encounter problems.

If you bought your policy and then a ‘Do not travel’ or ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ travel advisory was issued before you depart, there would be cover to cancel or alter your trip, provided it is not related to any other general exclusion, for example terrorism.

If an act of terrorism occurs once you are overseas, there would be cover for medical expenses if you get hurt as a result of that act of terrorism, provided there was no travel advisory issued before you departed.

Remember, your safety is more important than any adventure, so always check whether any travel advisories have been issued on the website before you book your travel plans.

If you have any doubts about whether the TravelCare policy will provide cover, our customer services team are always happy to help. Please feel free to contact us for clarification.

6. Am I covered for my existing medical condition?

Pre-existing medical conditions are not automatically covered under our TravelCare policy.

Pre-existing conditions can be an injury, a health condition or an illness that you’ve received care at any time for, had symptoms of, or require ongoing treatment for. Even undiagnosed symptoms are considered to be pre-existing conditions under the TravelCare policy.

If you would like to be covered for your pre-existing conditions, you will need to declare these by doing a simple online medical assessment when you apply for your TravelCare policy online. If you have undiagnosed symptoms, you will be unable to declare these and they will remain excluded from cover under your policy.

Once you’ve declared your pre-existing conditions, we will confirm whether we can offer cover and the additional premium you will need to pay if you would like the cover, all before you purchase the policy.

You can choose to pay for the cover, or leave the conditions excluded from cover and still buy the policy, in which case we will still cover you for other unexpected events unrelated to your excluded pre-existing condition/s, such as falling over and injuring yourself or travel delays.

If you’re not happy with the outcome of the medical assessment, there is no obligation for you to purchase a policy.

For further information on pre-existing conditions, you might find these questions and answers we have written in this article helpful.

7. How can I make a claim for an item that is lost or stolen overseas without a receipt?

If you need to make a claim for a lost or stolen personal item but don’t have the receipt, there’s still hope.

To be able to assess your claim, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership and value for your items, as well as proof of the unexpected event which caused you to make a claim.  Proof of an unexpected event, for example, would be a police report, or baggage loss form provided by the airport baggage services or airline.

While original receipts are preferred to show us proof of ownership and proof of value, you can also send us one or more of the following documents:

  • A reprinted receipt from the store you purchased the item from; or
  • A bank/credit card statement showing the purchase of the item; or
  • Any other document which verifies the date of purchase and price paid for the claimed item.

Although we encourage travellers to submit their claims promptly, there is no time limit to do this. Just make sure that you post us the documents as soon as you can do so conveniently. We can then assess the claim once we receive the supporting documentation.

8. I will be travelling soon and have a sick/elderly family member at home – what happens if they die or are hospitalised?

The TravelCare policy provides cover for unexpected events. However, limited cover is provided if a member of your immediate family member dies, is hospitalised, admitted to end stage palliative care, or diagnosed with a terminal illness, even if you know that they are unwell when you travel.

As an example, let’s say that a member of your immediate family has had a heart condition for 10 years. You fly overseas and then suddenly they have a heart attack and are hospitalised. You want to return home to be with them as the prognosis isn’t good.

There is cover under the TravelCare policy up to $2,500 per person (up to a maximum of $5,000 per policy) to return home early to be with them. As with all claims, we ask that in the first instance you seek refunds from your service providers such as airlines and accommodation, and submit a claim with us for anything they don’t cover.

Under the TravelCare policy, immediate family is considered to be your spouse, fiance, fiancée, parent, sibling, child, stepchild, foster child, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, brother or sister-in-law, son or daughter in-law.

If you’d like to know more, please feel free to contact our fantastic contact centre team, they’re always happy to help.

9. Can I extend my policy if I am travelling for longer than planned?

Yes! Your policy can be extended from overseas, as long as you’re coming home within a year from the date of your departure and you contact us before your policy ends. If you contact us after your policy ends, we won’t be able to help you out.

If you’re overseas and looking at extending your trip, please email us with your policy details and what dates you are wishing to extend the policy cover to at so we can extend your policy.

10. Can you reimburse me the replacement cost of my lost or stolen items? Can you explain the rate of depreciation?

The TravelCare policy is not a replacement policy, which means that baggage and personal items are covered for their current value.

We work out what the current value of the item is by taking the original purchase price, and deducting an amount for deprecation. Depreciation is calculated based on the age of the item at the time the unexpected loss or theft occurs.  Different rates of depreciation apply depending on the type of item. For example, items such as electronics have a higher rate of depreciation applied to them than jewellery.

There are also limits that apply per item depending on the type of item, so please make sure you check the policy wording for full details.

If you’re travelling with a particularly expensive personal item, you can specify it on your policy so that you have cover for its specified value. We will cover you for these specified items up to $10,000 per item, with a maximum of $15,000 per journey.

If you do specify an item, you’ll need to pay an additional premium and we will list the items you specify on your policy certificate.

If you need to claim for lost or stolen personal items, you will need to provide proof of ownership and value for the items. Please see the TravelCare policy wording for more details.

5 simple things you need to know about insurance

  1. Insurance provides cover for the unexpected. If you’re purchasing travel insurance after an event has occurred, you won’t be covered under your travel insurance policy.
  2. Always seek compensation directly from the provider, such as the airline or your accommodation, first. Then submit your claim with us for the short fall.
  3. Always follow the laws of the country you’re visiting. If you’re breaking the law of the country you’re in, you won’t be covered and we won’t be able to help you if you get stuck!
  4. In every travel insurance policy there are things we just won’t cover, these are known as ‘General Exclusions’. So make sure you read the policy wording before you purchase to ensure it covers you for what you want to do while you’re away.
  5. Contact us if you are ever unsure of whether you’ll be covered or not. After all, we’re here to help!

To view the policy wording in full, please click here.

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Issued and underwritten by Southern Cross Benefits Limited trading as Southern Cross Travel Insurance. 

*Terms and conditions apply to the promotion and to the purchase of a TravelCare policy.

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