Quentin Long lists nine tricks of the travel insurance trade that may see you up claim creek without a paddle.

1. No, you are not covered when you take unnecessary risks like running with bulls. And it could be argued being a spectator is taking unnecessary risks.

2. Drinking and taking drugs – yep, you are not covered.

3. Breaking the law – guess what? You are not covered.

4. Many domestic travellers think they do not need travel insurance – au contraire. There are so many instances where domestic travel cover helps. You are air-lifted from a remote location to hospital, leaving behind vehicles – travel insurance can assist with the cost of recovering the vehicles. You know the car insurance coverage that is exorbitant – well, travel insurance covers the excess and over time I have learned that if you have a hire car for three or more days, the travel insurance is worth it for car rental excess coverage alone.

5. Cancellation of flights due to bad weather is not covered by the airline so you will need to claim in on travel insurance. But make sure you get the cancellation in writing (saying it was due to bad weather). And, yes, you will need to book a room and pay for it and then claim it from the insurer.

6. A claim is not a ticket to a life of luxury. If you do need to book a room as in the example above don’t seek out the most expensive room in the city when you have actually been staying at flashpackers. The travel insurer will want evidence that this is the standard of travel you have been travelling at. Same for all dining and other related expenses you think you want to claim. It is not a ticket to excess on the insurer’s credit card.

7. Call the travel insurer as soon as humanely possible. The companies have great call centres that will be able to assist you and may have access to better information or contacts on any given situation than you do. A quick case study, my 18 year-old nephew almost wipes himself on a gap year in Cambodia. Wakes up in hospital 12 hours later, calls the travel insurer who has a western trained doctor who speaks English at his bedside in one hour. So have the travel insurance international calling number – very, very handy.

8. Travel insurers may be more effective than consular assistance. During natural disasters or political upheavals, travel insurance companies will have a team (okay, maybe one person dependent on the circumstances), dedicated to monitoring the situation and getting travellers out or giving assistance. They will also be great assistance in contacting your family members if necessary.

9. When the cruise and tour operators advise you to take out travel insurance they are not doing it for a bit of a laugh, they really want you to. Cancellations at the last minute for a personal issue which forfeits your deposit or entire payment is a real downer and the tour and cruise operators hate taking it from you…  but they can’t afford not to. Everyone, and you more than the rest, would feel a lot better if you could claim it or a portion at least on travel insurance.


Also see Quentin’s Bullish lessons in travel insurance.