Travel Insurance That Doesn’t Fly

Travel insurance policy
Feb 27, 2018

I count myself as reasonably intelligent (some might argue with that) and having been in the insurance industry for over 30 years, have built up a good knowledge of how insurance companies work.


However, my recent experience with travel insurance leads me to reinforce the importance of asking direct questions of your insurer, paying specific attention to your previous health history and how that relates to the travel insurance policy wording.


On a recent trip to Darwin, I had a problem with a tooth and needed emergency treatment. The tooth got fixed but I was left with an AUS$450 bill, which I settled at the time.


Luckily (or so I thought) I had purchased travel insurance with Allianz Global Assistance and given that we were going off the beaten track in Darwin, had purchased the more expensive Comprehensive cover.


Imagine my surprise when I get back to NZ and put in a claim, that I was told that no claim would be paid under the policy terms as the tooth that was treated was not sound and natural. I was in the Northern Territory of Australia, I’d imagined that something might bite me in the butt, I didn’t expect it to be my travel insurance policy!


Asking direct questions of your insurer that relate to your personal circumstances could save you a lot of heartache (or in my case toothache… or is that wallet ache) when it comes to making a claim. In my situation the policy wording for emergency dental treatment states “sound natural teeth does not include dentures or any tooth which has a filling or been subject to restoration work, capping or crowning”.  


In my case, the tooth had been filled many years ago. However, I had only had a check-up a month or so before our trip, and the cracked tooth probably would have occurred regardless of the existing filling in place.


Many times travel insurance is left to last minute, leaving you open to misinterpretation of policy wording and expensive bills. We recommend that you do carefully read all of the small print (boring as it is) and ensure that you do not find yourself paying for cover that you can’t claim on.


A report last year by Financial Services Complaints Limited (FSCL) stated that travel insurance remains the largest category of complaints. Insurance is a safeguard against the unexpected and while we all need to be aware of limitations of cover, unfair policy wordings under travel insurance cover remains.


So, before you pack your bags, set aside time to go through your cover and don’t be left with any nasty surprises.