How do Smartraveller advice levels affect your travel insurance?

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When you’re getting ready to travel, be it an overseas tour de pub, a family adventure, or just a plain old holiday (and goodness knows we all need one), we want to make sure we get the most out of our time and money, and come home feeling refreshed. 

While travel often leaves us with fond memories of the experiences we’ve shared, places we’ve seen, food we’ve drooled over, and people we’ve met, holidays aren’t always stress-free. 

Ask a group of people if they’ve ever had something go wrong on a holiday, like the airline losing their bags for a couple of days, a flight delay, or an injury or illness that caused them to miss out on plans they had, and you’ll naturally be met with a couple of holiday horror stories which are enough to have you second-guessing whether travelling is worth the potential hassle. 

The answer is, of course, that travelling is totally worth it! Plus, you might actually be able to damage-control your trip in advance with a travel insurance policy. 

Travel insurance covers all sorts of things, depending on the policy provider and the level of cover. But one thing common to nearly all policies is the reverence they have for Smartraveller advice levels, often tucked away in the general exclusions section of the product disclosure statement (PDS). 

But what is Smartraveller and why are their advice levels important when considering a travel insurance policy?

What is Smartraveller?

Smartraveller is a tool that Aussies can use when they’re planning to travel overseas, brought to you free of charge by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The site is useful for anyone planning a trip, on a trip, or living in another country. 

Smartraveller has up-to-date information on travel advice for over 170 countries, including: 

  • Health care and health risks
  • Visas and entry requirements
  • Safety issues (natural disasters, terror threats)
  • Local laws and customs
  • Consular services and embassies 

But something of particular note on the Smartraveller site are their advice levels.

What are Smartraveller advice levels?

The following advice levels are intended to give you a general picture of how safe it is to travel to or stay in a particular country. The higher the level, the higher the risk.

  • Level 1 – Exercise normal safety precautions (standard risk, similar to Australia)
  • Level 2 – Exercise a high degree of caution (risk is elevated by current or emerging  events)
  • Level 3 – Reconsider your need to travel (avoid travel that isn’t essential)
  • Level 4 – Do not travel (don’t go at all, or plan to leave if safe to do so) 

For detailed information on advice levels, check the Smartraveller website.

Smartraveller advice levels and travel insurance policies

As insurance providers are generally risk-averse, their reverence for Smartraveller warnings is understandable. Once advice levels for a destination hit level 3 and 4 many policies ‘tap out’ coverage-wise.

So, if you’re planning to head overseas to a country with a known advice level of 3 or 4 (‘reconsider your need to travel’ or ‘do not travel’), then your insurance provider will likely choose not to cover you for any of the included benefits in your policy if you go ahead with your plans. 

But if the advice level changes after you’ve already booked your tickets and secured a policy with cancellation benefits included, then you may be entitled to trip cancellation cover due to safety reasons. 

But not all policies were created equal. That’s why it’s vital you read through the PDS, and in particular the general exclusions section, for any details regarding a policy’s tolerance for advice levels. 

If you’re currently looking for international travel insurance, then check out some of the available policies below. Or if you’re looking to expand the horizons of your travel insurance knowledge (which is a great way to understand what to look out for when choosing a policy), then have a browse through our travel insurance guides!

Compare international travel insurance - last updated 13 August 2022

Search promoted travel insurance below. Advertiser disclosure Important information on terms, conditions and sub-limits.
  • International Travel Insurance
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    Get protection in a few simple steps with Freely travel insurance all in the palm of your hand. Freely Travel offers 24/7 emergency and medical support, 24/7 customer service. Plus, you can tailor your policy so you only pay for what you need, and adapt your cover in near real time. Add-ons such as car rental excess, snow sports or other activities also available.

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  • Top
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
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    overseas hospital
    Unlimited
    cancellation cover
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    Be covered for international overseas and medical expenses. Emergency medical assistance 24 hours/365 days a year. Cover for cancellation fees and lost deposits. Cover for luggage and personal money. Dependents covered free of charge (conditions apply). Limited COVID cover available. Cancellation cover for COVID claims limited to $3,500.

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  • Comprehensive
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
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    overseas hospital
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    cancellation cover
    $25,000

    Easy and cost-effective travel cover with Covid-19 cover included. With 4 base plans, 4 packs and cover for specific medical conditions. For Australian travellers, couples and families up to 99 years young. Add optional extras. 24/7 worldwide emergency help and unlimited medical cover. 14-day cooling-off period, money back guaranteed.

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  • Comprehensive
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
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    overseas hospital
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    Get peace of mind with Fast Cover with worldwide 24 hour emergency assistance. Enjoy cover for emergency medical and hospital expenses. Get cover for cancellation costs as well as for luggage and personal belongings. No medical assessments required. 25 day money back guarantee. Cancellation cover for COVID claims limited to $5,000.

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  • Comprehensive
    covid medical cover
    Yes
    covid cancellation cover
    Yes
    overseas hospital
    Unlimited
    cancellation cover
    $25,000

    Travel insurance with Covid-19 cover and made for women. Choose from 4 levels of cover so you only pay for the insurance you need. Cover comes with unlimited emergency medical cover worldwide. Kids travel free. Tailor your travel insurance with extra cover for activities and special gear. 14-day cooling-off period, money back guaranteed.

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Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

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