Travel insurance -- two words that could make all the difference to your trip.
But what exactly should we be looking for in a policy? At what point do you call for assistance? And will you need to jump through hoops to make a claim?
"There's a general perception that it's the customer against the insurance company, but the way we look at it when someone makes a claim is 'we're going to pay this claim,' and then, 'are there any reasons why we shouldn't,'" Dean Van Es, CEO of fastcover.com.au told The Huffington Post Australia.
Van Es explains there are two major components to a travel insurance policy which you should look for: financial and assistance.
The financial side is what everybody is already familiar with, whereby you are covered if something goes wrong. For example you might have an accident overseas and go to hospital, and the insurance will pay your medical expenses.
"The financial side is what everybody is already familiar with, whereby you are covered if something goes wrong. For example you might have an accident overseas and go to hospital, and the insurance will pay your medical expenses," Van Es said.
But there is also an assistance component, which is a global network available to you 24 hours a day that you can call during a troublesome situation.
"This team can do things like organise a translator, suggest a doctor or hospital and connect you with a travel agent if you need to quickly get home," Van Es said.
In more severe circumstances, this team can also organise a helicopter or private jet, for instance if someone has been hurt in a remote location.
"Oftentimes people don't realise they are purchasing this component, which is arguably more important and can be extremely helpful in times of distress or panic," Van Es said.
Make sure you ask the question: "What is your emergency assistance network like?"
When something smaller goes wrong
If your phone or some luggage gets stolen it's important you document what happened.
"Once you return home, it's not as simple as saying 'my phone got stolen' -- we do need to see some proof."
"It's important at the time it happened -- which we understand can be a bit of a hassle -- you go and get some sort of verification to corroborate it happened."
This could be:
- A police report
- Written report from the tour operator
- Written report from the hotel
When should you call the insurer?
"If it's not serious, for instance a doctor's visit or a stolen item and it's under $2,000 the customer will usually take care of that themselves until they return home."
"However, if they are in doubt and it's more serious they can call the emergency line which is a reverse charged call and they will advise what to do from there," Van Es said.
The emergency network is able to put in a guarantor at the hospital or get the customer to a reputable hospital.
The general rule: call your insurer when you are in doubt or the situation is serious.
Does my policy cover a cruise?
Most insurance companies offer a separate cruise policy, which is generally only a few dollars more.
"Cruises are in a different category as they are more high risk. You will be remote and also, in a contained environment," Van Es said.
Most insurance companies will ask the question of whether you plan on going on a cruise during your holiday however, it is important if this doesn't happen you flag it with them, as in most cases a cruise is not covered in a general policy.
What about pre-existing medical conditions?
If you become sick due to a pre-existing medical condition before you start travelling and your travel insurer does not provide cover for that condition, it is highly unlikely that your claim will be approved.
"Some people forget that pre-existing medical conditions are often taken into account with cancellation claims. If a pre-existing medical condition might prevent you from travelling, it's worth finding out if you can purchase cover for that condition," Van Es said.
Pregnancy cover also varies between different travel insurance companies.
"Fast Cover provides cover for pregnancy up to and including the twenty-third week provided it is single and without complications," Van Es said.