Discover some of the common mistakes travellers make that lead to their travel insurance claim being declined so you can travel smarter and make more conscious decisions before and during your travels.
Travel can be exhilarating, and many of us use it as an opportunity to try new things, let our hair down, and live life to the fullest.
Though a long-awaited holiday can be a good time to experience everything a destination has to offer, we are all responsible for being good travellers and thinking before we act.
And even though many activities and experiences offered overseas may seem like a good idea at first, some may actually be quite dangerous. They could leave you at risk of accidents, injury, illness or worse.
Regrettably, if the behaviour, activity or experience in question is something your travel insurance policy is unable to cover as per the PDS, your travel insurance claim relating to the incident could be denied, in part or in whole. This means you may have to bear the financial burden of things like medical costs, rearranging travel, or in the case of serious injury or illness, the repatriation costs to return to your home country.
Plus, travellers who engage in high-risk behaviour could be deemed an unacceptable risk, which could result in future insurance being refused.
That’s why we as travellers always need to stop and think, “Am I covered? Would I be covered for this? And if I’m not, can I get cover for it?," before and during our travels to help ensure we have an adequate level of cover.
Here’s a snapshot of how we helped our Cover-More customers between June 2022 and July 2023
11,560The number of travellers overseas who we helped navigate emergency situations.
The number of travellers we’ve repatriated or evacuated back home to Australia.
52,000The total number of travel insurance claims we’ve approved.
The total amount we’ve paid to our customers in approved travel insurance claims.
We’re all human; none of us want the people we love to be caught in bad situations. And for the Claims team at Cover-More, it’s heart-breaking when we need to deny travel insurance claims because our travellers don’t have adequate cover or have participated in risky or certain extreme activities we’re unable to cover.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of common scenarios that lead to travel insurance claims being denied. We hope this helps you stay aware of how you can protect yourself properly before you leave home, and what you need to avoid doing during your holiday to stay safe and adequately protected.
Avoid these 13 common scenarios if you don’t want your travel insurance claim declined:
- Having too many alcoholic drinks or taking recreational drugs on your travels
- Getting on a motorcycle or moped without a helmet, a valid licence, or the appropriate cover for riding or using them
- Hitting the slopes without purchasing winter sports cover
- Participating in adventure activities like skydiving, underwater diving and bouldering without the correct level of cover
- Neglecting to declare and obtain approved cover for existing medical conditions
- Getting a tattoo or piercing while on a holiday and ending up with an infection
- Booking a cosmetic, medical or dental procedure overseas and ending up with a complication related to the procedure
- Taking scenic rides on a light plane not operated by an airline or air charter company
- Breaking laws in the country of travel
- Going on a cruise when you don’t have cruise cover – and then getting sick on board
- Hopping aboard a private boat in International Waters
- Leaving possessions unattended in a public place
- Forgetting to keep a paper (or digital) trail.
Here are some common scenarios that could lead to your travel insurance claim being denied
Scenario #1: Having too many alcoholic drinks or taking recreational drugs during your travels
Many of us love a pint of beer or glass of wine on holiday, but just like at home, we need to be responsible and understand our limits when it comes to consuming alcohol – and know our actions may not be covered if we’ve had too much booze.
Some travel insurance providers don’t provide cover if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0%. However, we give our travellers a little more flexibility here at Cover-More.
“Our Cover-More travel insurance policies will not cover claims involving, arising from or related to your BAC level being 0.19% or above,” explained Neil Slabbert, Cover-More Assist’s Regional Chief Medical Officer for APAC.
“For context, this is almost four times Australia’s legal driving BAC limit.
“So, while it’s nice to have a good time while on a holiday, it’s important to keep track of how much alcohol you consume and stop drinking well before reaching a 0.19% BAC.
“If your BAC is over this limit and something unexpected happens, you may find your travel insurance claim declined.”
Though the policy may provide cover if something unexpected happens while your BAC is below 0.19%, it’s important to exercise personal responsibility and stay within your limits when consuming alcohol while on holidays. Please ensure to take good care of yourself while travelling, and drink responsibly.
Importantly, any travel insurance claim you make will be denied if your claim is caused by:
- Recreational drug use, even if the drug is legal at your destination
- Substance abuse or drug abuse, even if the drug in question is an over-the-counter or prescription drug.
Click here to check the PDS for more information.
Scenario #2: Getting on a motorcycle or moped without a helmet, a valid licence, or the appropriate cover for riding or using them
There are some destinations that are simply stunning to explore on a motorbike – the Greek Islands, Bali, Vietnam, and any other location with a beautiful coastline. But, this exciting way to explore a new place also brings with it many associated risks.
“Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are common both in Australia and overseas, and they can lead to severe injuries, costly medical bills and even the need for an air ambulance, if you do end up in one while on a holiday,” shared Slabbert.
"Because of this, it’s imperative you organise a travel insurance policy that offers protection for motorcycle riding if you plan on using this means of transport. Otherwise, it’s best to opt to hire a car or use public transport.”
It may be tempting to hire a motorbike or hop on one driven by a friend on a whim to explore while on a holiday. However, if you are involved in an accident, any related travel insurance claims may be denied if you haven’t met the travel insurance provider’s criteria.
Some holiday destinations like Bali may have little or no public transport options and ride-sharing on motorbikes may be common. That’s why it’s smart to research your destination before your travels and ensure you have the correct type of cover if there is a chance you’ll need to get on a motorbike or moped.
True travel stories: Moped ride takes an unexpected turn
One of our Australian travellers crashed while riding a moped in Bali, fracturing their skull and injuring their brain as a result. Their travel insurance policy included the right level of moped cover for their requirements, which meant the cost of their medical costs and additional expenses claim – more than $116,000 – was paid by us.
Here are four things you can do to help ensure you stay protected while driving or riding a motorcycle.
- Ensure you add Motorcycle/Moped Riding Cover when purchasing your Cover-More travel insurance. Without this, you will not be protected while on a motorcycle or moped, even if you meet all other criteria. If the motorcycle or moped you plan to ride on holiday has an engine capacity of more than 250cc, you will need to consider our Motorcycle/Moped Riding+ Cover and determine whether you meet the criteria for cover under this benefit.
- Ensure you hold a valid driver’s licence and/or motorcycle licence if you are driving a motorcycle or moped. If you are a passenger, ensure the driver has a valid licence for riding that vehicle.
- Wear a helmet. You must do this when riding the motorcycle/moped and/or even when you are a passenger.
- Obey the road rules: Make sure you follow the local laws and rules for use of the road and avoid unsealed or dirt roads. Remember to ride safely as dangerous or careless riding can be unlawful. Be sure to keep your alcohol consumption at a minimum and avoid it altogether before riding or driving a motorcycle.
Doing these four things while staying safe and responsible on the roads will go some way to helping ensure you may have cover while you are exploring your holiday destination on a motorbike or moped.
For more information on this, you can check the PDS here.
Scenario #3: Hitting the slopes without purchasing winter sports cover
Whether it’s a white Christmas experience in the Northern Hemisphere or a winter getaway a little closer to home, there’s something so special about holidaying amidst the snow. And while many of us love being spontaneous while travelling – and booking a last-minute day on the slopes may seem like a good idea at the time – we need to keep in mind that there’s no protection for any injuries or accidents sustained while taking part in snow sports without our Snow Sports cover if you’re travelling on a Cover-More policy.
Why? Snow sports can be exhilarating, but they’re risky too.
“Injuries ranging from wrist fractures, knee ligament injuries to more serious whole-of-body injuries can occur when taking part in snow sports,” said Slabbert.
“If you’re injured in a remote area and require urgent assistance, your medical costs could add up very quickly – especially if you need to be airlifted out of rough, remote terrain.”
That’s why it’s wise to plan ahead to avoid snow sports-related travel insurance claims being denied.
True travel stories: Skiing holiday ends in broken bones
One of our travellers spent time on the slopes in France, only to end up in a ski accident that resulted in a broken tibia and fibula. Thankfully, they had purchased an adequate level of cover for skiing, so we were able to cover over $6,000 worth of medical and additional expenses relating to the accident.
If you are travelling to a wintry destination and are on the fence about going skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling, it’s smart to include Snow Sports cover in your policy when purchasing your insurance. That way, you're protected if you do decide the hit the slopes.
At Cover-More, we offer two levels of Snow Sports cover to help you tailor your travel insurance policy to suit the type of snow sports you’ll be engaging in. For those planning on snowboarding, snowmobiling, or snow skiing on-piste, our Snow Sports cover option could provide the cover you’re looking for. But if you’re planning to go off-piste skiing or snowboarding, or hopping on a guided heli-skiing/boarding tour, it’s likely you’ll need to consider our Snow Sports+ cover to have adequate coverage.
It’s important to check the PDS to understand which level of cover you’ll need for the snow sports you have planned. Then, you can pack your warmest clothes and set off knowing cover is available should something go wrong on the slopes.
Scenario #4: Participating in adventure activities like skydiving, underwater diving and bouldering without the correct level of cover
Many of us love trying new things on holiday, but there are risks with trying activities you haven’t done before in another country. Why? Both the safety standards and conditions can be a little different to what we’re used to in Australia.
If the unthinkable happens while you’re participating in adventure activities, you could find your travel insurance claim declined if you don’t have an adequate level of cover. This could lead to cheap thrills becoming a costly incident, particularly if you need hospital treatment, medical evacuation, or repatriation back home.
Our Cover-More travel insurance plans automatically provide protection for 80+ adventure activities; however, not all activities are included. It’s smart to check the PDS and understand whether your planned or possible activities require additional cover.
To help avoid costly medical bills, it’s smart to consider including either of our two Adventure Activities cover options in your travel insurance policy when purchasing our Cover-More travel insurance. Although it will increase the premium you pay upfront, it may provide protection for several more adventurous activities.
But which one is right for your trip?
- Adventure Activities provides cover for all 80+ activities automatically included, plus bouldering (under 5 metres), dune buggying, water-skiing, and more.
- Adventure+ Activities provides coverage for all 80+ activities automatically included, everything covered by Adventure Activities, plus kayaking, hydro jetting, skydiving (not including BASE jumping), and more.
For the full list of activities covered by our base plans and two additional cover options – plus any conditions that apply – check out our Adventure Activities page. Plus, before purchasing your travel insurance, don’t forget to check our PDS to determine which level of cover you’ll need for the adventure activities you have in mind.
True travel stories: Skydiving traveller lands on hefty medical bill
A skydiving accident in Italy caused one of our Australian travellers to rack up almost $10,000 in medical expenses, amendment or cancellation expenses, and additional expenses. As they had purchased an adequate level of insurance cover for this activity, we were able to cover the bill for these costs so the traveller could focus on their recovery.
Important: Our Adventure Activities cover only applies if you are participating in the listed activities in a non-professional manner and if all criteria (if any) are met. There are also a handful of activities we don’t provide cover for because of the risk involved to you as a traveller.
The activities we are unable to provide cover for include:
- Rodeo riding
- BASE jumping
- Hang gliding
- Running with the bulls
- Sports activities in a professional capacity
- Free climbing
- Mountaineering using guides, ropes, rock climbing equipment or oxygen
- Trekking greater than 6,000 metres above sea level
- Scuba diving to a depth of 30 metres below the surface unless you hold an Open Water Diving Certificate or are diving with a qualified diving instructor
- Scuba diving if the maximum depth is greater than 50 metres below the surface.
Want more information on excluded activities? Please refer to the General Exclusions section of the PDS for the full list of excluded activities.
Scenario #5: Neglecting to declare and obtain approved cover for existing medical conditions
For those of us who have existing medical conditions (EMCs), having adequate travel insurance can be extra important. Why? Because medical costs can be higher overseas than we are used to in Australia, and we may even find ourselves needing medical treatment and even repatriation if the unthinkable happens.
That’s why it’s extra important to disclose every single existing medical condition you have when purchasing our travel insurance, including any medical conditions you have that are listed in the PDS as ones automatically included (E.g., anxiety, depression, high blood pressure) if you have any additional conditions not on this list.
You can do this via the online assessment tool, which you’ll be directed to when purchasing your travel insurance via our website. Including cover for your existing medical conditions may increase your premium, however, it will help offer important coverage if your conditions cause you to become ill or injured during your trip.
Here are some common examples of how an EMC could unexpectedly lead to needing to submit a travel insurance claim:
- A traveller who is immunocompromised because of an autoimmune condition or regular medication taken for a medical condition may develop a bacterial infection after eating street food if they’re unlucky. Because of their immunocompromised state, they may need hospitalisation or immediate medical attention to treat the infection. They may also need to amend or cancel parts of their trip due to the infection.
- A traveller with endometriosis may experience unexpected pain or bleeding during their trip and need medical support to alleviate it. They may also need to amend or cancel part of their trip due to endometriosis-related issues.
In the above scenarios, the traveller’s insurance provider may only reimburse medical expenses and other costs relating to amending or cancelling parts of the trip if they had declared all their medical condition(s), the condition(s) were approved by us, and the additional cover was included and paid for when purchasing the policy.
If you don’t disclose an EMC, the EMC wasn’t approved, or you chose not to pay to have cover for the EMC to be added to your policy and then need medical assistance or need to amend or cancel parts of your trip, you unfortunately may find your travel insurance claim is declined. If this happens, you’ll likely have to fund all associated costs yourself. Your claim may also be denied even if your claim reason does not initially appear directly related to your medical condition. (For example, if you’re immunocompromised and you don’t declare this and you are hospitalised because of a bacterial infection from eating street food, the costs associated with this incident – such as medical costs and travel rearrangements – may not be covered.) That’s why it’s extra important to declare each EMC you have. If cover for your EMC is approved, there may be an additional cost (if any) to include the cover in your insurance policy.
Scenario #6: Getting a tattoo or piercing while on a holiday and ending up with an infection.
As Australians, we often love to commemorate our travels. While many of us buy souvenirs to remind us of our best travel memories, others may consider more permanent souvenirs like tattoos and piercings.
The problem is, safety and cleanliness standards overseas can sometimes be lacking compared to Australia... which can cause issues down the track.
“Getting a tattoo or piercing overseas is very risky and could leave you more likely to end up with a severe skin infection, or even worse a blood-transmitted infection like Hepatitis C,” said Slabbert.
“This becomes even riskier if you have an existing medical condition that makes you more susceptible to infections and illness.
“And, unfortunately, our Cover-More travel insurance plans do not provide cover if you need medical attention after having a tattoo or piercing done while overseas.”
So, it’s best to stick to traditional souvenirs like keychains, keepsakes, and memories to last a lifetime, and delay your tattoo and piercing plans till you’re safely back home.
Scenario #7: Booking a cosmetic, medical or dental procedure overseas and ending up with a complication related to the procedure
It’s true that medical and dental procedures can be cheaper in some overseas locations compared to Australia. Some countries may also offer desirable procedures that are not available or legal in Australia.
If you’ve been considering such procedures, it may be tempting to book a trip to get them done overseas and stay on for a holiday afterwards. Unfortunately, this could end up costing you a whole lot more than you bargained for, as any elective medical or dental treatment or surgery or cosmetic procedure completed in another country is not covered by your travel insurance policy.
Treatments not covered include:
- Injectable cosmetic treatments such as Botox and fillers
- Plastic surgery
- Gender reassignment surgery
- Dental crowns
- Orthodontic treatments
- Teeth whitening treatments
“These procedures can prove to be quite dangerous if performed to low safety standards and can lead to infections if the conditions in which they are performed are not sterile,” explained Slabbert.
“Unfortunately, the safety and sterile conditions we are used to in Australia are not always present overseas, so the risk of infection or complications is much higher.
“This means you’re more likely to need medical assistance afterwards, which you will need to fund personally – even if you have a travel insurance policy for your trip.”
What does this mean for you? It’s best to have any medical, dental or procedures booked and completed in Australia, so you can focus on relaxing and making great memories during your holiday instead.
Scenario #8: Taking scenic rides on a light plane not operated by an airline or air charter company
Those of us who love flying may love the idea of taking in your holiday destination from above via a light plane ride. After all, it’s hard to say no to a unique view like the one you’ll get aboard a light plane in the skies!
However, there have been instances of travel insurance claims being denied because the traveller was aboard a light plane that was not licensed for carrying passengers or was not operated by an airline or air charter company.
If you are contemplating booking a light plane ride, it’s best to only consider booking a spot on a plane that is licensed to carry passengers and is run by an airline or air charter company. That way, you can focus on soaking in the magical views
Scenario #9: Breaking laws in the country of travel
Travelling can give us the opportunity to let our hair down and break away from the monotony of everyday life. Yes, a trip away from home can be a great opportunity to live in the moment and embrace new experiences.
However, before we say yes to anything and everything, we must first make sure the experience or activity in question isn’t illegal at the travel destination – even if it’s legal back home.
Some examples of common illegal activities that can get you in a pickle overseas include:
- Drug use
- Bringing illegal goods to your destination
- Getting involved in fights that could lead to assault charges.
If you engage in illegal activities overseas, the consequences can become quite stressful, and there’s sometimes very little the Australian Government can do to get you back home in such circumstances.
On top of all this, the consequences of breaking any local law are not covered by your policy, so you’ll have to bear any associated costs related to your law-breaking actions on your own.
“When you’re travelling overseas, it’s important to remember things that are completely ordinary in Australia may unfortunately be illegal in other countries,” said Rodger Cook, Cover-More Assist’s General Manager of Global Security.
“LGBTIQA+ rights are a common example of this, as are rules surrounding the consumption of alcohol, internet access, what you wear, and freedom of speech.
“However, as travellers, we need to remember none of us are above the laws of the country we’re visiting.
“Though you may not agree with the laws of a country that is not LGBTIQA+-friendly or disagree with the rules surrounding alcohol consumption, you may need to adjust your conduct to respect local customers and laws while visiting that country.
“If you are not happy to do that, it may be best to pivot your holiday plans to a destination that suits who you are and what you want to do on holiday.”
Scenario #10: Going on a cruise when you don’t have cruise cover – and then getting sick on board
We’ve all heard the stories of a “trip of a lifetime” turning into the stuff of nightmares because of an outbreak of gastro aboard a cruise ship.
“While spending time on a cruise ship can be a bucketload of fun, sharing such close quarters with so many people can unfortunately leave travellers at risk of picking up contagious diseases,” said Slabbert.
“And, if your travel insurance policy does not include Cruise Cover, it could lead to your cruise-related travel insurance claim being denied and things going from bad to worse if you need to be transferred back to shore for medical treatment, as this is extremely costly without the support of travel insurance.
"You can avoid this nightmare scenario entirely by ensuring you have adequate travel insurance cover before boarding your cruise.”
True travel stories: Cruise getaway disrupted because of unexpected medical diagnosis
Upon hopping on a cruise from Dubai to Singapore, one Aussie traveller started experiencing pain in their lower leg. After consulting an onboard doctor and later being sent to a hospital in India via private transport, they were diagnosed and treated for deep vein thrombosis. This unexpected ordeal could have left the traveller out of pocket over $2,000. However, as the traveller had purchased Cruise Cover with their travel insurance, we were able to cover costs associated with the incident.
When purchasing Cover-More travel insurance, you’ll be asked whether you’ll be going on a sea or ocean cruise for two or more nights during your trip. When you answer “Yes”, our Cruise Cover will be added to your travel insurance policy for coverage of potential, unexpected situations related to your cruise.
Scenario #11: Hopping aboard a private boat in International Waters
There’s no denying a luxe trip onboard a private yacht or boat is the stuff of movies, and most of us would greet the chance to experience this while on a holiday with a resounding “yes!”.
But, did you know this could leave you without cover? That’s right, our Cover-More travel insurance PDS states we do not provide cover if you travel on a private sailing vessel in International Waters.
That’s not to say you should forgo experiencing sailing on a private boat – it's simply important to make sure the vessel will not be travelling in International Waters before your board.
Scenario #12: Leaving possessions unattended in a public place
So many of us are guilty of leaving our possessions on the beach when we go for a swim at a beach near our home, or in a car a little longer than necessary when we don’t have the time or energy to bring them indoors. While this may not lead to unfortunate consequences at your local Australian beach or when the vehicle in question is parked in the driveway at home, we need to be more cautious when travelling interstate or overseas.
Theft can be very common in parts of Australia and in other countries. If you become a victim of theft while you’re travelling away from home, your travel insurance claim may be denied if your personal belongings were left unattended in a public place or left in a car, as this puts them at greater risk of being taken.
So, it’s best to think twice about where all your possessions and luggage items are kept during your trip and make sure they are always within reach – not just within eyesight – or locked away safely in your accommodation at all times.
Scenario #13: Forgetting to keep a paper (or digital) trail
We’ve all been in situations where things have not gone to plan, leaving us flustered and stressed. It’s even worse when this happens overseas, especially if the incident involves illness, a robbery, or losing your possessions.
Thankfully, travel insurance may be able to help with the financial loss of such incidents. However, we must remember to collect and keep the correct documentation to reduce the chance of a travel insurance claim being rejected. Not having a paper trail is a common reason travel insurance claims are denied, but it’s also something you can avoid if you’re organised.
True travel stories: A tale of taxi rides and stolen jewels
One traveller unfortunately had precious jewellery stolen by a taxi driver while travelling in the Philippines. Luckily, they had purchased an adequate level of cover for this valuable item, and kept a paper trail of receipts, police reports and more to prove what happen and how much the jewellery was worth, so we were able to approve and pay out their $18,343 claim.
Here are some tips for ensuring you’ve got the documents to support your travel insurance claim:
- Keep receipts for all valuables you’ll be taking on your trip. If you need to make a claim due to a robbery or lost luggage, you’ll need to submit the receipts to establish proof of purchase, price paid, date of purchase and ownership when you file your insurance claim.
- File a police report (and/or loss report from your transport or tour provider) if your possessions are stolen. This will be required alongside the receipts for anything stolen when you submit your claim.
- If you are ill just before or during your trip, ensure you see a doctor and ask for a written copy of your diagnosis. You will need to submit this to file an Amendment or Cancellation Costs claim.
Making responsible choices can help you stay safe on holiday
Though a holiday can be a wonderful way to escape reality for a little while and live life to the fullest, we must take care to exercise caution as we would back home, take personal responsibility for our actions and choices, avoid dangerous or risky situations, and do our best to be good travellers while on the road, skies, or seas.
When paired with an adequate level of travel insurance, this approach can likely help you stay safe during your trip and help you return home with wonderful memories to last a lifetime.
Need to protect your upcoming trip?
It’s wise to stay cautious and responsible during your travels. However, if the unthinkable happens despite your best efforts to have a smooth and safe holiday, travel insurance can help when you need it the most.
Get a quote online now to learn more about Cover-More travel insurance plans and options to vary your plan.