Thousands of holidaymakers are changing their approach to travel insurance, indicating that a recent Government initiative encouraging people to protect themselves when abroad is working, according to new data from insurance comparison website comparethemarket.com.au.
Three months on from the launch of the Foreign Minister’s ‘Travel Insurance Buying Guide’ on 23 October 2014, comparethemarket.com.au has analysed customer data to see if and how the guide is influencing buying behaviour.
Three months prior to the launch of the guide, one third (33.5 per cent) of people looking for travel insurance on comparethemarket.com.au did so within a week of jetting off. And, the most common day for people to start their search was the day before departure (6.9 per cent).
However, three months later and there have been some obvious changes to buyer behaviour, with less than a quarter (24.0 per cent) of people waiting until the week before their holiday to consider their insurance needs. The most popular day to start their search is now 10 days before their holiday begins (6.9 per cent).
“Both the Government and the media have lent their support to raising awareness of the necessity of travel insurance; and it appears the message is getting through. Media coverage of high profile cases of Australians stuck abroad with horrific injuries is encouraging more people to not only purchase travel insurance, but to think about getting it much earlier on,” said Abigail Koch, spokesperson forcomparethemarket.com.au.
Looking back over the last six months, travellers aged between 40 and 49 years old are the biggest culprits for last minute purchases, with 36.8 per cent waiting until the week of their trip before considering their travel insurance needs.
Senior citizens (60 years old +) are the most prepared when it comes to organising their get-away, with only 19.0 per cent searching for insurance within the seven days leading up to their trip.
“Buying travel insurance as early as possible after you book your holiday means that if something was to happen that made you unable to travel, such as breaking a leg or being made redundant, then you may be able to claim back your costs. Getting insurance early not only gives you peace of mind, but the cost is identical whether you buy it the same day you book your trip or a week before you set off. It’s a bit of a no brainer – buy travel insurance early and you’ll get more cover for your money,” said Abigail.
North America is the most popular destination for consumers using comparethemarket.com.au to search for travel insurance. Some 12.7 per cent of people using the comparison site are planning a trip to the States, with 10.3 per cent heading off to Bali, and 6.9 per cent going to New Zealand.
The United States is one of the most expensive destinations for travel insurance because medical costs are unregulated and they primarily operate a private health care system. The price of the same visit to the doctor can be different in each state. If you start to suffer chest pain while in the US, the average time you’ll spend in hospital to monitor and treat the condition is 1.9 days. These costs can range from US $8,076 in North Dakota to a whopping US $24,107 in California*.
“Costs like these demonstrate that it’s just not worth the risk to go on holiday without purchasing appropriate travel insurance. We recommend holiday-goers review the policy disclosure statements from a number of insurers carefully to ensure they choose the most appropriate policy for them and their destination,” said Abigail.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) frequently receives complaints related to travel insurance claims that have been denied. “History shows that the FOS has tended to find in favour of insurers in the majority of these complaints, indicating that the problem boils down to the consumer’s lack of understanding as to the coverage of the policy they purchased,” said Abigail.