Multi-trip travel insurance

When to choose a year-long travel policy.

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Caught the travel bug? Multi-trip packages are touted as more cost-effective than buying individual policies for several trips. But we found you'd need at least three separate holidays before a year-long policy pays off.

Travel insurance is a must-have when you head overseas. Without it, the most enduring memory from your trip could be a hefty medical or legal bill.

Most travellers will be well-served buying travel insurance on an as-needed basis. However, a multi-trip policy can be a good bet if you put the ‘frequent’ in frequent flyer.

Multi-trip travel insurance covers you for as many overseas journeys as you can squeeze in within a 365-day period. One major caveat is each trip cannot exceed a specified length – anywhere from 15 to 90 days, depending on the insurer and plan.

We surveyed six companies offering comprehensive multi-trip travel insurance. Our results indicated you’ll need to take at least three trips (of a decent length) before these plans became your best-value option.

What we did

Two travellers – a 45-year-old and a 70-year-old – have the following travel plans within the next 12 months:

  • a pre-booked one-month trip to California from July 30
  • a pre-booked one-month holiday in the Australian outback from October 30
  • a tentatively planned one-month tour of the southern US states from December 30.

We collected premiums for single-trip comprehensive travel insurance for all journeys. We then compared these figures against the cost of an annual multi-trip policy.

We made these assumptions:

  • neither traveller has a pre-existing medical condition
  • neither traveller wants additional cover for adventure activities, nor rental vehicle excess beyond what’s built into the policy
  • both travellers opted for the excess closest to $100
  • both travellers want at least $5000 of pre-departure cancellation cover.

Comprehensive travel insurance premiums

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Working holidays

As multi-trip policies require you to spend a decent amount of your year abroad to pay off, they could appeal to people who travel overseas for work.

We looked at the multi-trip policies to see if the insurers prohibit you from working. AA, Mix & Match and Southern Cross’ standard TravelCare policy all limit your cover if you undertake manual work abroad (for example fruit picking). AA and Mix & Match also exclude “unusual or dangerous work” and Southern Cross won’t cover you if you plan to volunteer.

Southern Cross offers specialist travel insurance for people who want to work overseas for more than 30 days.

TINZ requires you pay an additional premium if you want cover and intend to do any charity or conservation work abroad.

We say

If you’re considering annual travel insurance, do a quick price check to find what your planned itineraries cost on their own. It’s best to have firm travel plans before you buy. While you’re at it, collect at least three quotes from different insurers.

Check the policy’s limits and T&Cs to check what you are – and aren’t – covered for before you buy. It’s worth contrasting different insurer’s policies to find which one best suits your holiday plans here.

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