Despite the different types of cover available today, holidaymakers often overlook travel insurance. This is fairly understandable – after all, people are busy organising their flights, packing and looking up places to go. While not as exciting, travel insurance is one of the most important things to sort out when heading overseas.

So, what’s there to know? We’ve asked our lead underwriter Julia Kofoed some of the most common questions we receive about travel insurance. We hope this Q&A will come in handy when planning your next trip.

Are pre-existing medical conditions covered by travel insurance?

There is no automatic coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. However, some of our policies allow you to apply for coverage in certain circumstances. For example, if you have high blood pressure as a pre-existing medical condition, and you want this covered under the policy, you’ll need to declare it. We will confirm if we are able to cover the condition and if any additional premium applies.

When you set up travel insurance with Tower, we will remind you that there is usually no cover for pre-existing conditions, but that you can apply for additional protection if you wish. Our Provider Travel insurance is a package that you could consider if you have pre-existing medical conditions, as the policy is comprehensive and can provide cover for a whole range of factors.

What do I need to know about travelling to a high-risk area?

If you’re planning on visiting a country that is deemed to be dangerous, please check whether it is on the list of ‘extreme risk locations’ available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. Our travel policies are not designed to cover trips to locations deemed as ‘extreme risk’ by MFAT. We rely on the advice issued by MFAT and follow updates from the New Zealand government’s Safe Travel service.

Travel insurance specialist
Our travel policies are not designed to cover trips to locations deemed as ‘extreme risk’ by New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Will I be covered for any unexpected events?

An unexpected event is one that’s unforeseen and ‘outside of your control’. Your travel insurance policy covers you for the unexpected events that could result in abandoning or changing your travel plans. For example, if you were to injure yourself before travelling, become ill, or have your flight cancelled, we may consider these to be unexpected events.

Your policy may provide cover in such circumstances – even though you’d probably prefer for it not to happen in the first place!

Am I covered if I’m going skiing or snowboarding?

Yes, provided you are skiing or snowboarding within the confines of a designated commercial ski area.

What about cycling and other sporting activities?

Our policies are designed to cover normal tourist activities. You should always check the terms and conditions of your policy to make sure any activity you are planning on doing is not excluded.

Generally, cycling will be covered so long as you are not exposing yourself to exceptional danger. You should be aware that travel insurance only covers bicycles when they are in transit on licenced commercial transportation and for fire or burglary from locked accommodation.

When should I buy travel insurance? 

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and your travel arrangements can be affected, even before you go on holiday. With this in mind, it pays to start thinking about coverage as soon as you start paying for your travel.

For example, if you’re going on a holiday that’s more expensive than average, like a long, relaxing cruise, you might be paying off the trip in installments months in advance, and sometimes over a year.

You’ll want to make sure that those installments are covered, so setting up travel insurance as soon as you start paying is a good idea. The reason for this is pretty simple – sometimes there’s a long time between paying the first deposit on your holiday and the time of travel. You never know what might happen in-between, so giving yourself peace of mind by getting covered is important.

What kind of cover do I need when compared to the cost of my holiday?

When weighing up your travel insurance options, you should always take the time to examine the schedule of benefits and policy terms before you buy – our knowledgeable team can help you with this process. Take a look at precisely what it covers and what the sub-limits entail, comparing and contrasting it with what you’d like to get coverage for.

For example, imagine that you’re taking some valuable items away with you – a diamond ring, for instance. Many of our policies offer cover of up to $1,500 which you may feel isn’t quite enough for your needs. Therefore, it’s vital that you specify items of great value beforehand, so that we can arrange the necessary cover before you travel.

Hearing aids are another item that people often forget about. With cost ranging from $1,000 to $7,000, losing or damaging a hearing aid when on holiday is something you’ll be keen to avoid, so having the right cover in place for this item is important.

Something else that isn’t often considered are medical things that can go wrong. A fall in the USA could result in a broken leg and medical bills of over $100,000. With travel insurance, you’d only have to pay a small excess and the rest could be covered.

Travel insurance policy
Take the time to examine the schedule of benefits and policy terms before you buy travel insurance.

What about travel insurance cover that comes with my credit card?

If your credit card provides travel insurance, you should always check that you are eligible for this cover. Some important things to consider are your age, the duration of your trip and if you need to do anything to ‘activate’ your cover under the policy.

What do I need to remember and/or keep in case I need to claim?

Theft while travelling is a common cause of claims here at Tower. Though we hope you never have to experience such a situation, if the worst happens, you should get a police report of the incident, which you’ll need to hold onto and provide to us.

If you have to pay for something that your policy may later reimburse, like hotel stays as a result of travel delays or necessities to replace lost baggage, make sure you keep all your receipts so that you can use them to support your claim.

How can I get in touch with Tower while I’m overseas?

At Tower, we have an emergency 24-hour helpline number that you can call if you need any assistance. Call +64 9 985 5000.

As always, if you don’t see your question answered above, please don’t hesitate to contact the expert team at Tower. We’ll be happy to talk you through the finer points of our travel insurance options, so be sure to get in touch with us if something comes up – we look forward to hearing from you!

Posted by Katie Anderson