Making the best choice around travel insurance

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A survey of 29 travel insurance providers has found joint winners in the transtasman and international categories.

Analysts at research firm Canstar found Southern Cross and Travel Insurance Direct offered “outstanding value” in the survey of 55 policies across seven countries.

The survey gives a 50-50 weighting to prices and features of policies and found a wide variation in what was on offer.

Canstar’s New Zealand general manager, Derek Bonnar, said consumers needed to carefully check the terms and conditions of policies.

“The reason that we give a lot of weighting to the features side of the policy is that in my view, although price is important, if you’re paying slightly extra to get more benefits then that’s a more valuable policy.

Read the research here.

“The one thing that is clear is that there is a lot of difference in the fine print of policies that are available.”

Bonnar said Southern Cross Travel Insurance and Travel Insurance Direct (TID) offered competitive premiums, with TID winning five stars across all of the profiles and offering some “great features”, including a reverse-charge 24-hour helpline.

Southern Cross had up to $100,000 cancellation and loss-of-deposit cover which included travel agent cancellation fees.

Kiwis make about 2.2 million short-term overseas trips each year.

“Even fairly routine illness or accident can end up costing travellers tens of thousands of dollars or more, particularly if medical repatriation is needed,” Bonnar said.

He said he was confident the survey covered nearly all providers.

Canstar made its money by offering survey participants the chance to buy a licence to use the research company’s endorsement in marketing their own business although there was no obligation to do so, he said.

Insurance Council research of 3000 New Zealanders who travelled overseas last year found 22 per cent cent of those who went to China and 18 per cent of those who went to Australia had no insurance at all.

Council chief executive Tim Grafton said a trip of a lifetime could quickly turn into a “holiday from hell”.

The Insurance and Savings Ombudsman deals with about 3000 inquiries about travel insurance a year with most resolved before becoming formal complaints last year. Most complaints related to disputes over pre-existing medical conditions and the loss of property.

Ombudsman Karen Stevens said those with insurance through credit cards needed to check carefully about what was covered as they were often not as comprehensive as specialist policy cover.

Southern Cross lists five potentially costly mistakes:

Doing activities not covered on your selected policy: Most travel insurance policies cover you for the things you’re most likely to do on holiday, but when planning it always pays to check whether you are covered for specific activities.

Forgetting to mention a medical condition when you apply: There’s no obligation for travellers to declare their medical conditions when they buy a policy. But there would be no cover under all sections of the policy for any medical conditions you do not declare.

Leaving it until the last minute: Things can happen before you leave as well as during the holiday, so would-be travellers should book their travel insurance the moment they pay any non-refundable deposits towards flights or accommodation.

Getting “really really”drunk: Most policies do not cover claims when the direct cause was the excessive influence of alcohol, or reckless or unlawful behaviour.

Not having it.


Travelling overseas on a motorbike can be a thrilling way to travel. You feel free, can go where you want, stop and stay for however long you like, and leave when you’re ready with very little fuss. You’re not tied to a schedule of rushing from A to B, squeezing onto uncomfortable overnight buses or stressing about missing expensive flights. You can make your own path and go at your own pace…all whilst looking hip and cool.

The Tricky Thing About Overseas Motorbike Holidays Is Finding A Good Policy That Will Cover You.

Many insurers say a flat out ‘no way’ for covering you on a motorbike, but there are policies out there for you.

  • Some insurers do not require you to have a license if riding a low capacity engine and will cover you for a bike 50cc – 125cc
  • Others have maximum engine size limits which you’re only insured to drive – irrespective of what your license says (keep reading to find out who-covers-what when it comes to muscle power)
  • And some cover you for whatever engine size you ride as long as you’re
    insured to do so in Australia.

Who Covers What? Hover Over The Insurers Names For More Details




1300 Insurance 250cc Auto & General
1Cover No limit Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
1st for Women 125cc Auto & General
AAMI 200cc Vero
AIG No limit AIG Australia Limited
Allianz Under 250cc (Over 250cc Additional Premium) Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
American Express 200cc Chubb Insurance Australia Limited
Australia Post 200cc Chubb Insurance Australia Limited
Australia Seniors 200cc Chubb Insurance Australia Limited
Boomers 250cc Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Budget Direct 125cc Auto & General
Bupa No limit CGU
Citibank 200cc Chubb Insurance Australia Limited
Columbus Direct 125cc Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
Comminsure 250cc Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Cover-more 200cc Great Lakes
DUinsure No Limit Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Easy Travel 100cc/250cc QBE Insurance Limited
Fast Cover No limit Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Go Insurance 125cc Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
Insure4Less No limit Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
InsureandGo No limit Mitsui Somotomo
itrek No limit Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Jetstar No Limit AIG Australia Limited
Kango 125cc Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Medibank 200cc Great Lakes
Multi-trip 125cc Mitsui Somotomo
No Worries 125cc Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
NRMA 200cc Great Lakes
Online Travel 250cc Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
On-tour No limit AIG Australia Limited
Priceline 200cc Chubb Insurance Australia Limited
Qantas 100cc QBE Insurance Limited
QBE 100cc QBE Insurance Limited
SCTI 200cc Southern Cross
Simply Travel No limit Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
STA 250cc Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Suresave No limit Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
Tick Travel No limit Mitsui Somotomo
TID No limit Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
Travel Insurance Saver 250cc QBE Insurance Limited
Travel Insuranz No limit Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s
Traveller 200cc Chubb Insurance Australia Limited
Virgin Australia 250cc Great Lakes
Virgin Money No limit Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Webjet No limit Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Westpac 250cc Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
Woolworths 50cc Hollard Insurance
Worldcare No limit Allianz Australia Insurance Limited
World Nomads No limit Certain underwriters at LLoyd’s

If you’re planning on riding a more powerful bike, you can often get cover for a small additional premium. Have a good look online and you’ll be able to find a policy that suits you. Comprehensive cover that has unlimited medical and hospital expenses, as well as emergency medical assistance would be the best option. There would be nothing worse than getting seriously injured in a foreign country, then to have to fork out thousands of dollars for medical bills, not to mention trying to work out how you’re going to get yourself home. You want to make sure that if you are riding a motorbike or a scooter overseas you will be completely covered by your travel insurance no matter what happens, because after all, no rider no matter how experienced can ever know exactly what will happen on the road.

Licensed To Thrill

If you’re travelling to a foreign country make sure you get your International Drivers Permit (IDP) – preferably before you leave! This allows you to drive or ride the same class of vehicle you are permitted to ride in your home country. So, if you are NOT covered to ride a motorcycle or scooter in Australia, you are not permitted overseas. It’s strange how we tend to throw caution to the wind, when on holiday. Many of us have absolutely no training and no experience riding a motorbike or scooter at home, but seem to think we’ll master the skills on the spot in a foreign country.

You can apply for an IDP overseas, but make sure you’re ticking the right boxes. You may be able to fool the traffic cop in Thailand that you have a motorcycle licence, by ‘ticking the box’ when you got your IDP, but it won’t cut the mustard with your travel insurance company. If you DO have a valid motorcycle license, be thrilled! Your licence will be accepted in over 150 countries including Bali, Indonesia, Laos, and Thailand.

Planning to ride in Vietnam with an IDP? Think again. Vietnam does not recognise International Driving Permits and you will have to register for a temporary Vietnamese Drivers’ License and carry a valid three-month visa before whizzing away. You can apply for a temporary Vietnamese drivers license at

What’s Not Covered?

Even with cover offered, exclusions still apply. You are not covered:

  • If you are racing and intentionally putting yourself at risk
    Any time you intentionally put yourself in danger such as using your bike for jumps, stunts and tricks and injure yourself (especially if you are not wearing a helmet at the time) you are unlikely to be covered.
  • For your bike and it’s equipment
    Most insurers do not cover for sporting equipment or bicycles when they are damaged whilst in use due to high risk. You might be able to insure your bike through your home insurance instead – just make sure your items are covered when you are overseas or away from home. Like travel insurance, home insurance policies also have maximum item limits which you should pay attention to if you have a particularly expensive model.
  • For competitive or professional riding
    Competitive riding of any sorts is generally not a covered event under standard travel insurance policies.
  • For bike hire excess
    Are you renting a motorbike on holiday? Maybe in Bali? Although travel insurance often covers rental vehicle excess, this often does not extend to two wheeled modes of transport. If you hire an expensive bike and it gets damaged, unfortunately your travel insurance will not cover the excess.
  • If you do not follow the rules of road
    Always follow road signs including traffic lights, stop signs and give ways.
  • If you are under the influence
    You would not be covered if you were drink driving and had an accident while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • If you do not wear a helmet
    Cut and bruises are not ideal travelling companions, make sure you wear a helmet at all times when riding overseas. No travel insurance company is obliged to cover you if you incurred injuries when you were not wearing one.

What’s Next?

Finally, contact your travel insurance provider before you purchase travel insurance for your motorbike holiday to double check the policy details. It often pays to make to take a few minutes to make that short phone call to clarify. When riding motorbikes or scooters overseas you are taking risks with both your health and your money. So do your research, compare different quotes and different policies. Don’t just settle for first or the cheapest policy you find.

Perhaps all that muscle power is too much for you. Taking out cycling travel insurance for your push bike shouldn’t give you whiplash either. Ride easy with our cycling travel insurance essential guide.

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