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Alarming clueless factor among travellers to SE Asia

November 26, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Many travellers to South-East Asia depart Australia with insufficient travel insurance or none at all, complacent about their health and financial welfare and knowing little or nothing about what their insurance covers and what it excludes.

Several recent cases have seen travellers from Australia and New Zealand stranded overseas – with their families desperately trying to raise funds through crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and Givealittle – because they were uninsured, under-insured or had failed to disclose existing medical conditions to the insurer.

A joint survey by Smartraveller (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade site) and the Insurance Council of Australia’s Understand Insurance initiative focused on travellers who had recently visited South-East Asia. It uncovered some alarming facts.

Two-thirds of respondents admitted to undertaking a risky activity or behaviour during their trip – and one in five said they had not declared a pre-existing medical condition before departure.

The 2018 survey (conducted by Quantum Market Research and commissioned by and found:

  • One in 10 Australians travelled to South-East Asia without travel insurance. Men and under 30s were the most likely to leave home without cover.
  • 82% of under 30s admitted to undertaking a risky behaviour.
  • One in four Australians rode a motorbike or scooter during their trip. Of those with insurance, 58% didn’t know if their policy covered this high-risk activity.
  • More than 50% of travellers didn’t know if their travel insurance policy covered their trip activities. .

Commenting on the results, spokesperson for, Lisa Kable, said that while South-East Asian destinations including Bali, Vietnam and Thailand were popular with Australians “many travellers to these destinations will unwittingly void their travel insurance if the claim involves risky behaviours”.

These behaviours include:

  • Drinking alcohol and being affected by it (48% of travellers to Indonesia).
  • Engaging in a high-risk water sport (25% of travellers).
  • Riding a motorbike or scooter (44% of travellers to Vietnam).
  • Undertaking an adventure sport (14% of travellers).
  • Riding a horse, camel or elephant (24% of travellers to Thailand).
  • Taking illicit drugs.

“The insurance industry and Smartraveller are increasingly concerned for Australian travellers for three reasons,” Kable said.

“First, we are concerned that 215,000 Australians travelled last year to SE Asia without insurance.

“Second, too many travellers with insurance aren’t aware of their policy inclusions and exclusions and how easily they can invalidate a claim.

“Third, many travellers fail to declare a pre-existing medical condition to their insurer.

“Our survey found one in five travellers didn’t check their policy covered their pre-existing medical condition, with 30-49 year olds the least likely to check.

“The importance of reading and understanding the Product Disclosure Statement cannot be overestimated; it’s there to help travellers make an informed choice. It’s a priority to travel with the right travel insurance and be aware of cover inclusions and exclusions.”

It’s also worth noting the Australian Government does not assist Australians overseas with medical treatment or emergency travel home if something goes wrong, despite 25% of travellers wrongly believing the Government will assist.

Understand Insurance and Smartraveller encourage all Australian travellers to read the travel advice on before they leave home and subscribe to receive travel updates or follow Smartraveller and Understand Insurance on social media.

Written by Peter Needham

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