Be prepared the first rule of travel

15 April 2016

Discounted air fares and reduced tariffs at some Australian tourist destinations make autumn and winter attractive seasons to take a break, but even for the most experienced travellers a holiday can go wrong.

Sudden illness or missed connecting flights due to poor weather and strikes can bring your holiday to an abrupt end and leave you no option but to buy full-fare return tickets. Extra costs for accommodation or transport can further erode your travelling budget unless you have planned ahead and are covered by adequate travel insurance.

Almost 350 Australian travellers last year were assisted by RACV domestic travel insurance when they were confronted by unexpected cancellations, thefts, car hire incidents and other emergencies. Their claims resulted in payouts of more than $400,000.

Paul Northey, General Manager RACV Insurance, said claims figures for 2015 demonstrate how important it is to have appropriate travel insurance.

“When securing cheap air fares, it is easy to overlook that the same fare will not be available if you are forced to cancel mid-way through your trip because of an illness or personal emergency. Personal illness was the cause of the 10 most expensive domestic claims last year,” Mr Northey said.

 “The highest payout related to illness was $16,490 to cover cancellation costs for a man who developed pneumonia while travelling.”

However, more than half the total claims resulted from damage and theft related to hire vehicles.

“Hire cars are very popular when travellers fly to a destination but want to get around to explore the area, however incidents do happen so it’s important to know what you are liable for,” Mr Northey said.

The average cost of RACV claims for hire car incidents was more than $1,000. The highest hire car claim was more than $3,500 for storm damage with a collision with a kangaroo resulted in a $2,300 payout and a chip on a windscreen costing on average $300.

“Hire car companies apply a damage excess condition, which can catch travellers unprepared. For many companies the excess is $4,000 and can rise to $6,000 or more for sports cars. RACV domestic travel insurance offers options of excess cover up to $8,000,” Mr Northey said.

Other claims included lost and damaged personal items, ranging from a camera that was dropped in a barbecue, to lost bracelets and damaged luggage.

“Having travel insurance means that travellers can have peace of mind that they will be looked after in an emergency. Most of us know of someone who has been injured, lost luggage, missed travel connections or had valuables stolen while travelling and has needed help. Being prepared by having travel insurance ensures that support,” Mr Northey said.

Limits, exclusions and conditions apply. RACV Sales and Marketing Pty Ltd (ABN 11 005 258 702, AR 270432) is an authorised representative of Travel Insurance Partners Pty Limited (ABN 73 144 049 230, AFSL 360138) who arranges insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Australia (ARBN 127 740 532, ABN 18 964 580 576, AFSL 318603). This is general advice only. Please consider your own financial situation, needs and objectives and read the Combined PDS and FSG available from or by phoning 13 13 29.

Important tips for Australian domestic travellers

  • Research your destination and identify potential risks.
  • Ensure your family or a friend has your itinerary and contact details.
  • Invest in secure luggage and keep a record of its contents.
  • Cover yourself with appropriate travel insurance. It’s ideal to purchase travel insurance at the time of booking travel as policyholders will be covered if the trip has to be cancelled for medical reasons or other emergencies.
  • Ensure that you can access money while travelling, either via debit or credit cards, through banks or by securely carrying cash.
  • Use safety boxes when available at resorts and hotels.
  • Don’t leave valuables in the car – whether a hire car or privately owned.
  • Take extra care when driving in a car you are not familiar with, in unfamiliar locations and at    dusk and dawn when wildlife is most active.
  • Make sure you have adequate home and contents insurance to protect your home while you are away and take steps to make your home lived in and secure.
Written by Liselotte Geary, RACV Public Affairs on 9790 2717
April 15, 2016