The golden rules of travel insurance

Posted Date: 08 March 2016
Insurance advice

Smart travellers know what they’re covered for under their insurance policy – just in case disaster strikes while travelling! What’s worse than having your laptop stolen overseas? Being caught without the documents or know-how to make a claim.

We want you to be confident that we’re here to help you when things go wrong, so here are eight golden rules of travel insurance to ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected.

1. The policy wording is your friend!

We know that reading through your insurance policy won’t be the most exciting part of organising your adventure, but if you have any questions about your cover, this is a good place to start. In it, you’ll find detailed information on what you’re covered for, as well as to what degree and under what circumstances. If you can’t find what you need, get in touch with the friendly team at Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) who can answer any of your questions.

Our TravelCare policy wording contains information on the following benefits:

  1. Medical and Evacuation
  2. Changes to Your Journey
  3. Baggage and Personal Items
  4. Cash and Travel Documents
  5. Personal Accident
  6. Personal Liability
  7. Rental Vehicle Excess

Getting familiar with your policy before you leave will let you focus on the crucial things, like which swimsuit to pack for the pool!

2. Keep your documents in check

Among all the booking confirmations, passports, visas and boarding passes, it can be difficult to keep track of all your travel documents. But if you run into trouble on your trip and you need to make a claim, you’ll be thankful that you kept everything organised.

Keeping a folder is a useful way to keep all of your travel documents in check. However, if you like to pack light, why not scan all your documents before your journey and send them straight to your inbox so you can access them from anywhere in the world.

Sitting in a police station to report a theft is not the way you imagined your holiday playing out. But police reports, repair reports and medical reports are just some of the types of documents we may need to process your claim. So if you find yourself in hot water on your trip, make sure you’ve collected evidence of the event to support your claim.

If your valuables are lost, stolen or damaged, we will also need proof of ownership and value, so it’s a good idea to hold on to receipts for expensive items. We understand that you might not always be able to provide original receipts, which is why we’re able to consider alternative options too. Our claims assessor will be able to talk you through the options specific to your claim and recommend the best course of action.

3. Keep your valuables safe

At the risk of sounding like a strict parent, look after your stuff! We want your adventure to be stress-free and memorable for all the right reasons, so it’s important to stay alert and exercise caution around your belongings.

Keep a careful eye on your valuables. We can cover you for the unexpected, but not for the unattended. Leaving your beach bag on its own in the sand while you jump waves in the sea makes it vulnerable to theft. Same goes if you’re on the dance floor learning how to salsa and your bag is left out of site under the table. If possible, use the hotel safe to store valuable items and avoid leaving your items in unlocked rooms or in vehicles overnight.

Travellers should also remember that while in transit, any expensive items, such as cameras, phones and laptops, should be kept with you in your carry-on luggage. We can’t cover loss of these types of items if they’re in your checked baggage. Thankfully, we’ve got some expert packing tips so you can organise your carry-on bags like a pro.

4. Embrace your sensible side

Preventing travel mishaps can start before you have even leave for the airport – with packing your bags. So before you don the diamonds and load up with laptops, ask yourself if these expensive items are vital to your holiday. If in doubt, leave them out!

Flashy items can often attract unwanted attention overseas. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some distressing instances of theft in several countries where thieves target tourists wearing jewellery. A simple gold chain can represent more money than some people may earn in a year, so always be wary of the image you present overseas, especially in poorer countries.

Anyway, who needs a diamond necklace or a flashy watch to have fun when you’re at the beach!

5. Help us to help you

The idea of submitting an insurance claim can sometimes seem like hard work, but at SCTI we like to make life simple for our customers. It can be even simpler if you follow a few simple steps.

Report any incidents of theft or damage to the police or an appropriate authority within 24 hours of the event. Depending on the incident, it’s likely that we’ll require these reports to prove that the incident actually happened.

If you require hospitalisation or emergency treatment, contact our Emergency Assistance team straight away. They can provide payment guarantees to hospitals, coordinate evacuation back to New Zealand, and recommend the nearest qualified medical practitioner, as well as keeping your family advised of your situation.

Try to make your claim as soon as you can after an unexpected event – although you can wait until you’ve arrived back in New Zealand to send us your documents.

6. Honesty is the best policy

We want to be able to help you as best as we can, which is why it’s vital that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions when buying your policy, even if you’re required to pay an additional premium to cover your conditions.

If you don’t tell us about your pre-existing medical conditions, you put yourself at risk if those conditions cause you to seek medical care overseas. This can result in hefty medical bills, especially in countries like the USA where even a simple check-up can cost a small fortune.

When you buy your policy, provide all the information required and answer all the questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge. Remember, you can’t declare a pre-existing condition after you have received confirmation of your policy.

7. Know when and where your policy begins and ends

It may sound simple, but it’s important to note when your cover begins and ends. We’ve seen some instances of baggage being lost in or outside the airport of a traveller’s home country, meaning we haven’t been able to process a claim.

The ‘changes to your journey’ and ‘delay due to unexpected event’ benefits of our policy commences as soon as you purchase your TravelCare policy. This means that if your flight is cancelled or delayed due to something unexpected like extreme weather conditions, you won’t be left out of pocket. Cover for all other sections of the policy commences on the start date of your journey.

Your cover ends on either the date specified on your Certificate of Insurance, or the moment you land back in New Zealand. We are unable to process claims that happen after this time.

8. Buy your insurance as soon as you book your trip

After you book your flights, accommodation or tours, make sure you book your insurance! This is becoming even more important following recent coverage in the news, where events including volcanic activity and extreme weather have grounded flights.

When you’ve finished high-fiving the family and updating your Facebook status with news of your holiday plans, make sure you go online and organise your cover so we can help you should any cancellations or delays come up. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but means we can look after you for longer.

Remembering these travel smarts will arm you with expert knowledge, which means that you’ll know exactly what to do if you run into trouble on your next adventure. If you do have any questions about our TravelCare policy, we’d be happy to answer them:

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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.

We are a Registered Financial Service Provider and a member of the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme.  Southern Cross Benefits Limited has an A (Strong) financial strength rating given by Standard & Poor's (Australia) Pty Ltd. The rating scale is: AAA (Extremely Strong) AA (Very Strong) A (Strong) BBB (Good) BB (Marginal) B (Weak) CCC (Very Weak) CC (Extremely Weak) SD or D (Selective Default or Default) R (Regulatory Supervision) NR (Not Rated). Ratings from 'AA' to 'CCC' may be modified by the addition of a plus (+) or minus (-) sign to show relative standing within the major rating categories.  Full details of the rating scale are available at Standard & Poor's (Australia) Pty Ltd is an approved agency under the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010.

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