Passport to protection: Unpacking the risky business of travel without insurance

By Our Reporter
Australians Urged to Embrace Travel Insurance Amidst Wanderlust

Venturing into the allure of global exploration offers unparalleled excitement and the promise of unforgettable experiences. However, the thrill of journeying to foreign lands comes with its own set of uncertainties. Recognising the importance of preparedness and safety in travel, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in collaboration with the Insurance Council of Australia, embarked on a detailed study to gauge Australian travellers’ attitudes towards travel insurance and the utilisation of Smartraveller, a trusted advisory service.

The findings underscore a concerning trend: a significant portion of Australians embark on their overseas adventures without the safety net of travel insurance, despite acknowledging the unpredictability of travel. This oversight not only heightens the risks associated with international travel but also underscores a gap in awareness about the critical nature of insurance as a travel necessity.

With travel insurance being as indispensable as a passport, the stark revelation that two in five Australians contemplate overseas travel without it is alarming. This risk-taking behaviour is more pronounced among younger travellers, with 54% of those under 30 and 46% of individuals from households earning less than $100,000 annually admitting to considering travel without insurance. The prohibitive cost of insurance is often cited as a deterrent, with 15% of recent travellers without insurance pointing to financial constraints. Yet, the adage “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” rings especially true, considering the exorbitant costs an unexpected accident, illness, or mishap abroad can incur.

Many Australians justify the absence of travel insurance with a perception of safety, either due to familiarity with the destination, familial connections, or an inherent belief in the country’s safety. However, the essence of travel insurance lies in its provision for the unexpected – from accidents and theft to illnesses and cancellations. Such incidents can occur irrespective of a destination’s perceived safety, making insurance indispensable for every journey.

Smartraveller emerges from the study as a beacon of guidance for travellers, with 67% consulting the platform before their overseas travels. The overwhelming majority of these users reported enhanced awareness of potential risks and felt better equipped to manage these risks while abroad. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of travellers expressed willingness to visit destinations with travel advisories suggesting reconsideration or avoidance, highlighting a disconnect between awareness and action.

The study further elaborates on Smartraveller’s advisory levels, underscoring the gravity of ‘reconsider your need to travel’ and ‘do not travel’ advisories. These advisories indicate serious, potentially life-threatening risks and situations where health and safety are at extreme risk, respectively. It is imperative for travellers to understand that the Australian Government’s ability to assist in such destinations is limited and that travel insurance coverage may be invalidated.

In light of these findings, the emphasis on the indispensable role of travel insurance cannot be overstated. As adventurers set their sights on exploring the globe, the call to action is clear: ensure travel plans are fortified with the comprehensive coverage that travel insurance provides. By doing so, travellers not only safeguard their own well-being but also contribute to a culture of responsible and informed travel. In an age where the world is at our fingertips, let’s make informed choices that ensure our adventures are memorable for all the right reasons.

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