You can buy travel insurance online or over the phone from travel agents, banks, and individual insurers. There are common questions you’ll encounter when taking out an insurance policy.
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Insurers ask about your destination as the chances of you making a claim (or the cost of claims) are greater in some countries. When shopping for policies, you may discover some insurers lump destinations together in regions such as the Pacific, Europe and “Worldwide”. You may need worldwide cover if you’re stopping off in multiple regions or travelling to certain countries (often the US and Canada).
The duration of your journey is a major factor in how much your insurance costs. The longer you’re away, the more you’ll pay. Most of your policy’s benefits, such as cover for your belongings, are triggered on the day you depart. But cover for your prepaid expenses begins when your policy is issued. So it pays to take out insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip.
Older travellers are charged a higher price as the likelihood of making a claim increases with age. Some insurers require older travellers to complete a medical assessment; others won’t cover travellers over a certain age. “Dependent children” (the definition varies depending on your policy) may be covered for free when they travel with an insured adult.
If you make a claim, you may have to contribute some money towards covering your loss. This is called the excess. A typical excess is $100. Some insurers let you increase your excess in exchange for a lower premium or vice versa.
Insurers won’t necessarily cover your participation in sports events or adventure activities such as rock climbing. Some charge extra to cover ski trips. Check your policy to ensure your pursuit is covered. Claims relating to mopeds or motorcycles may also be rejected if the bike has an engine over a certain capacity – often 200cc – or you don’t have a helmet, or valid motorcycle licence for the country in which you’re travelling.
A pre-existing condition is a health issue you had before taking out insurance. By default, most policies won’t cover a pre-existing condition or any associated problems. For example, a traveller with diabetes may not be covered for a heart attack, as the conditions are related. There are exceptions – some insurers have a list of conditions in their policies that are automatically covered. For a higher premium, they may also be willing to cover your condition. You'll have to update your insurer if your health changes (even for minor matters, such as your doctor switching your medication) after buying insurance.
Note: It’s important to tell your insurer about any medical conditions you have when you arrange insurance – and any ailments that develop before your departure. This information is important to insurers, even if you’re willing to forego cover for the ailment. You also have a duty to disclose other factors that might influence either an insurer’s decision to cover you or the terms of your cover. For instance, you should tell your insurer about insurance claims you’ve made in the past (including claims that were declined).