Heading offshore? Will a ‘known event’ void your travel insurance?

Remy Taylor

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Be warned travellers heading overseas these holidays, as it’s important to get your head around what it means when a travel warning is issued and how it could ultimately affect your travel insurance.

Heading offshore? Will a ‘known event’ void your travel insurance?

But first, let’s get you up to scratch with the term ‘known events’, a bit of jargon that many insurers use, but that you may not be so clued up on. ‘Known events’ can take many different shapes and forms, from disease outbreaks to natural disasters, but essentially these are any big events that could affect your holiday plans and that your insurer deems you could have reasonably been aware of before you booked your trip. And if you happen to find yourself caught up in one, your insurer might even refuse to pay your claim.

Understanding travel warnings: how to know if you know

Millions of Aussies travel offshore to different destinations every single year, but while there’s the excitement of an impending holiday, there’s also a degree of travel caution that should be taken into account. That’s where Smartraveller advisories come in... to help Aussies make safer decisions before and during their travels.

Smartraveller issues travel warnings to give you a heads up on risks that you could run into at your destination. The travel warnings come in 4 levels, from level 1 being ‘exercise normal safety precautions’ to level 4 being ‘do not travel’.

One of the best ways to identify ‘known events’ is through travel warnings, and if there is a ‘known event’ in the area that you’re planning to travel to, it’s important you double check your insurance policy will provide you with enough cover.

Mozo Director Kirsty Lamont said, “travellers need to be extremely vigilant with ‘known events’ when purchasing travel insurance and make sure they know where they stand before taking off.”

RELATED: Aussies swap domestic travel for Easter Holiday destinations in Asia

Some current ‘known events’ that may affect your travel plans

Natural Disaster: Mt Agung volcano in Bali

Bali is a popular destination for Aussies looking to relax over the Easter break, but not having the right travel insurance cover could quickly change things. After contacting 49 insurers, Mozo found that travel insurance policies purchased as far back as September 2017 are unlikely to cover you for any disruptions due to Mt Agung.

As an active volcano, the ash from Mt Agung could delay flights and airport operations at any time.

So make sure you:

  • Contact your insurer to directly ask if your policy is affected by the Mt Agung volcanic activity
  • Contact your airline for up-to-date information about flights or cancellations.
  • Monitor local media.
  • Have a plan B: if your flight is delayed, know what’s on offer such as hotel accommodation. And even consider extra savings or a credit card for costs in the meantime.

Disease Event: Measles Outbreak in Australia

Following the recent news of a measles outbreak across Australia, it’s important travellers not only check their vaccination records but also contact their insurer to see if they will still be covered if they fall ill while travelling.

“Epidemics, pandemics, outbreaks of diseases and viruses or any other significant widespread health crisis might also be considered to be ‘known events’ by your insurer and could see them deny you when it comes time to claim,” Lamont said.

High threat of terrorist activity: Elections in India

Planning on heading to India for your Easter escape between the dates 11 April to 23 May during India’s general elections? Then make sure you’re cautious and avoid large crowds, as Smartraveller has placed level 4 warnings for some areas in India. There are reports on planned attacks in areas where Aussies frequently visit, including religious sites, markets and festivals.

Be aware that most travel insurance won’t cover you in a known event like this. If you’re unsure, contact your insurer and find out if you can get cover for different areas in India.

If you are travelling to India during this time: 

  • Make sure you put your safety first
  • Be vigilant in public areas
  • Avoid travelling alone
  • Do not travel to regions in India such as Jammu and Kashmir.

Here’s some points on how to make sure your travel insurance can cover you:

  • Check with your travel insurer before taking off this Easter weekend as some “known events” might not be covered under your policy, including events such as the Nebraska floods or Mt Agung volcano.
  • Subscribe to Smartraveller updates for your holiday destination, keep an eye on the red and some cases orange warnings, as your travel insurance is unlikely to cover them.
  • Stay up to date with your destinations local media for developments that may affect your safety and security.
  • Consider rescheduling your holiday if your destination’s ‘known event’ could potentially escalate.

Savvy travellers should already have their travel insurance organised for their offshore Easter holiday, but if you’re unsure whether you’re covered for ‘known events’ make sure to contact your insurer before you leave.

And if you haven’t already, there’s still time to make sure you’ve got the right travel insurance in place, so go and compare travel insurance options today.

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