Horror travel stories reveal the risk of jetsetting overseas without travel insurance

Aussies are a nation of globetrotters, making more than 9.7 million trips overseas in 2014-15, but recent research has shown that more and more travellers are running into trouble overseas in the form of petty crime such as theft, dishonesty and faulty services.

Take for example, Bernadette and her husband Paul, holidaying in Napoli, Rome, who moved out of the way of a scooter that mounted the curb where they were walking. One of the two men on the scooter reached out and snatched a valuable gold necklace from Bernadette’s neck. The necklace, with considerable financial and sentimental value, was gone, with little to no recourse for Paul and Bernadette.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance has found that 60% of travellers have been exposed to crime while travelling. While cases of mugging or pickpocketing, like what happened to Bernadette and Paul, account for just 5% of crime each, the real danger lies in hazards such as being swindled when converting currency (15%), being knowingly given incorrect change (21%) or using an unlicensed taxi (11%). Almost a third of travellers lose hundreds of dollars in these ways, 1 in 6 lose over $500, and a few even lose upwards of $1,000.

One crucial mistake Aussies have been making is heading overseas without adequate travel insurance. Just under half of travellers found themselves with inadequate insurance coverage, while 14% had none at all.

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The US, Hong Kong, China and Fiji are fairly high on the list of high crime destinations, but Bali topped the list, with Thailand coming in close second. Despite Aussie’s love for the golden beaches, wild nightlife and friendly culture of these destinations, 13% of travellers have been deterred from visiting popular holiday spots because of their high crime rate.

The Department of Foreign affairs, who managed 1,300 cases relating to theft or assault during 2014-15, urged Aussie travellers to be prepared, rather than deterred, which means being well-informed ahead of travel, including logging onto the Smartraveller website to check crime and security warnings for their chosen destination.

Craig Morrison, CEO of Southern Cross Travel Insurance, said, “We want all Aussies to make holidays memorable for the right reasons and encourage travellers to be vigilant, aware of their surroundings and be as responsible with their personal belongings and safety overseas as they would be back in Australia.”

Here are Morrison’s 10 tips for avoiding crime on your next holiday:

1) Carry a travel money belt instead of a backpack - you'll be less of a target to pickpockets.

2) Leave the bling behind - expensive items, and even expensive looking items, may attract the watchful eye of thieves.

3) Avoid running into trouble by exercising the same caution overseas as you would at home - e.g. don't jump into a car with a stranger, avoid walking alone at night and take measures to safeguard your items.

4) Familiarise yourself with the local currency and be wary of vendors who might try to short-change you.

5) Keep your passport safe and do not give it to anyone or leave it as a deposit for a jet ski or bike hire - it is the most valuable thing you take on holiday!

6) Be mindful of where you leave your items, even if right next to you. Avoid leaving them unattended on the beach or in other public places such as bars and restaurants.

7) Use only licensed, marked taxis, and note down the name of the company and driver. Be wary of taxi drivers who might try and drive away with your items still in the boot.

8) Be mindful of distractions thieves use such as kids trying to sell items or people telling you there is something in your hair or on your top.

9) Never leave valuable items (e.g. cash, jewellery, electronics) in checked luggage or stored away from you when using a transport provider.

10) Bus stops and buses (especially overnight ones) are a common target for thieves. Secure valuable items where possible by keeping them on your person and using padlocks on your bags.

With the cost of holiday crime impacting more and more Aussie travellers’ wallets, are you covered for your next big trip? Find yourself a competitive deal by using our travel insurance comparison page.