International Health and Travel insurance is a pretty broad topic, but must be taken into account when planning to leave your home country for a while. Depending on your profile, your needs and your trip, you will be faced with a few questions when looking for travel insurance. This article will not only help you to understand the benefits of getting travel insurance but also give you the tools to make the right choice.
Types of travel insurance
Working Holiday Travel Insurance
The Working Holiday Visa is a program set up between several countries in the world to allow young people aged 18 to 30 (or 35 for some countries and nationalities) to travel and at the same time work in another country to finance their trip.
Going overseas with a Working Holiday Visa is a specific project, which requires a proper insurance cover. The ability to travel and work for 1 to 3 years abroad can pose risks. In some cases, effecting a travel insurance is a condition for obtaining the working holiday visa. Only few countries offer this type of visa, among them, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are popular destinations for travellers.
Read also : Working Holiday Travel Insurance
Are you going to study abroad? What a wonderful personal and professional opportunity! You still have to put all the chances on your side for a successful stay. Indeed, there are specific insurance for students wishing to go and study in another country (outside the European Union). Be aware that in most cases, you will need to take out the national insurance of the country where you are going to study, but private insurance will also be necessary for good coverage.
Read also : International Student Insurance in Australia
Backpacker travel insurance
Traveling the world is an amazing experience but it is important to be prepared and think about all the practical aspects of this great project. When planning your travel you should seek advice on the potential hazards you may encounter and understand how best to protect your health. Traveling through various countries, you will be confronted with different health systems, which can even be precarious at times. Make sure to explore the world with a specific insurance that will cover all possible incidents during your trip!
Read also : Backpacker Travel Insurance
Travel insurance – short stay overseas
Some of you will only go on a short trip for holidays but it is important to know that even if you do not want to work and you plan to travel only for a short period (less than 90 days), it is still necessary to be insured.
Read also : Short Term Travel Insurance – Australia
Au pair insurance
Being an Au Pair in a host family is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of a new country. Although enjoying some security in staying with a family, you are not protected from an incident. It is always important to be covered for yourself and also for the children you will be responsible for.
Thinking about doing some volunteer work overseas? You should check the different types of insurance that suit your needs. You can be facing sanitary risks, infectious diseases or insecurity etc depending on your destination country. More than ever, you will need an insurance coverage that will provide you with 24/7 emergency assistance in all circumstances and the countries you visit.
Some of you are probably considering a long-term departure, and/or settling in another country. Having an expatriate status, you will need to take out insurance coverage according to your country of destination. Whether you leave alone or with your family, working for yourself or for a company, you must be covered in every situation.
Why should I get travel insurance?
As zero risk does not exist, it is important to be insured no matter what your destination or the nature of your trip is. The Covid 19 pandemic proved to us that we are never safe from a (big) unforeseen event. Here are some reasons why you should be taking an international travel insurance:
National health care system
If you are lucky to be able to benefit from good health coverage in your home country, it is important to note that usually your national health care system won’t cover you outside the European zone. Indeed, out of your home country, it is necessary to take additional insurance to be covered in case of an accident. If traveling in Europe, it is necessary to ask for your European Insurance card.
Depending on your country of origin you may qualify for access to another country’s health care system. Based on the Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) between certain countries, some of the costs for necessary health care might be covered while abroad. You should check this before doing your research.
Credit card travel insurance
Today most credit cards offer coverage for travellers. However, this option is not sufficient and is generally limited. Indeed, restrictions are applied on the duration of the trip (usually less than 90 days), the level of repayment. Moreover, very specific terms and conditions apply most of the time. Even though Credit Card travel insurance might be helpful for short stays, it is not an effective solution for longer travels, which require more comprehensive insurances.
Health risks in Australia
International travel can pose various risks to health, depending on your type of travel and on your health needs. Since health is paramount, you have to be careful and make sure you are covered in all situations!
Climate-related health risks
Australia has different climate zones, due to the large size of the continent. Especially in desert areas, where the climate is arid, high temperatures are common. Protect yourself from the sun! Don’t skimp on sunscreen, drink plenty of water and don’t go outside without a hat and sunglasses. You often see travellers suffering from heat stroke because they are not sufficiently cautious about sun exposure. Keep in mind that Australia is the country with the highest rates of skin cancer.
Health risks related to animals and insects
Animals probably pose the biggest threat to human health in Australia. Koalas and kangaroos are not the only animals living in Australia!
Beware of mosquitoes! Although the risk is low, cases of dengue fever have been reported in Queensland. Mosquitoes also transmit Ross fever or Murrey Valley encephalitis (a disease similar to Japanese encephalitis). Again, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases is very low, but it’s still best to protect against mosquito bites. Use citronella wristbands and anti-mosquito sprays to not let these pesky mosquitoes spoil your trip!
The bite of certain snakes or spiders can have serious or life-threatening consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, move your body as little as possible to prevent the venom from spreading and have somebody take you to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.
In the north of Australia, be vigilant if you’re anywhere near water. It’s best to keep a good distance to water holes and rivers in which Saltwater crocodiles might be staying. By the way, even though their name suggests they only live in saltwater, they don’t! They can actually travel in fresh water about 200km inland.
Another reason to not go swimming in the ocean in Northern Australia is the lethal Box Jellyfish. As their season runs from October to May, you might see brave people in the water at other times. To be on the safe side, rather swim in the public pools or lagoons.
Finally, there are obviously other animals you should stay far away from! A stray dog or any other animal that bites you can become a hazard if it transmits rabies. Get informed about the areas where rabies is known to occur.
Recommended vaccines to prevent diseases
You don’t need to get vaccinated to enter Australia, but it is recommended to get vaccination against:
- Tick-borne encephalitis if you plan to go to northern Australia or to rural areas.
- Rabies, which occurs in rural areas.
Travel insurance for cancellations
Unforeseen circumstances can happen while traveling abroad. Cancellation insurance is useful if your itinerary changes or if you have to cancel your stay in a place. First, you should have a look at the cancellation policies of your bookings. Generally, the covers offered are low and it is difficult to get any refund. If you need to cancel or want to have more flexibility during your trip, you should take out cancellation insurance in order to avoid losing too much money. Moreover, if you are not traveling by yourself, changes of plans are very likely, so it is essential to make sure you will have your back covered!
When you are traveling abroad for a long period of time, it is pretty common to carry a lot of luggage and / or valuables. Losing, damaging or being robbed of your property is normally very stressful. Without having the appropriate luggage Insurance, it is likely that you are helpless in those situations. Insurance companies have acknowledged that this is one of the biggest complaints of travellers and have developed specific covers for possessions and luggage. It is important to find out in advance about the covers offered because even though it is effective most of the time, luggage insurance does not cover everything.
When traveling abroad, an unexpected event may force you to return home earlier than planned. Unfortunately, in the event of death or a serious accident of a family member, or a major incident at home, you might have to go back home earlier. If you are covered by a travel insurance, this change of plan can be taken care of at no cost for you.
Traveling usually involve discovery and fun, however, an accident can unfortunately happen at any time. In case of accident or serious illness, the medical team that will treat you may decide to transfer you to another country or to repatriate you. To cover those situations and the costs involved, additional travel insurance is required.
Any litigation leads to fees. Those fees can get high pretty quickly, so if you do not want to spend too much money, it’s safer to be covered. All travel insurances offer to cover all or part of legal costs, such as lawyer, expert costs etc.
How to choose the best travel insurance?
Choosing a travel insurance is an important step when planning your trip overseas. Whether you are traveling for holidays, as an au-pair, expatriate, or student, you will need to have a proper health cover. Depending on the type and the length of your trip, your destination or the activities you are planning to do other there, the choice of your health insurance will be different:
Types of trips
First you should think about your needs during your trip to know which travel insurance to choose. Your needs will be different if you travel as a tourist for holidays and for a short period of time or if you go backpacking on the roads for a year or more. During your trip, you may encounter sudden changes in altitude, temperature and can be exposed to a variety of diseases, which can result in illness.
Moreover, the health risks you will be exposed to will be different depending on your activities and way of life abroad. For example, if you are planning to do extreme sports (skydiving, diving etc.), make sure to pick a travel insurance that can cover adventure sports.
Backpacking around the world
If you decide to travel around the world, in addition to the different risks you will be exposed depending on the countries you are visiting, you may also need to rearrange your trip for some reasons. For this type of trip it would be wise to choose insurance with a large luggage cover and a cancellation option to be more flexible in case of unforeseen events. Also make sure your insurance is effective in all the countries you are visiting. Check that you can receive emergency assistance 24/7, or that your medical expenses will be covered upfront and from the first cent paid and this regardless of your location.
During a family trip, your priorities and needs are different than if you are traveling by yourself. In this case you should opt for high insurance coverage because your children may have special needs or be more fragile. Also, when traveling with your family, a cancellation in case of unforeseen events can be pretty expensive. You should think about taking out cancellation insurance to travel with peace of mind.
If you are traveling to be an au pair overseas, you will need an insurance that offers specific guarantees for this activity. For example, an insurance that will cover your hotel expenses if you need to change family or that will cover you personally if you accidentally hurt the child in your care.
Type of visa
When choosing your travel insurance, you will also need to consider the type of visa you will travel with in order to purchase the appropriate insurance cover.
Working Holiday Visa
If you intend to travel with a Working Holiday Visa, you may have to take out mandatory insurance to have your visa approved. Moreover you will probably spend several months in a country, increasing the risk of being sick or have an accident. Some insurance companies are specialised for this kind of travel and will offer you all the guarantees you need for your trip.
If you are traveling with a student visa in Australia, you will have to take out compulsory national health insurance. However, you may also have to take out private insurance to make up the gap in reimbursement. Plus be covered for other risks such as potential early return, personal liability, rental liability etc.
If you intend to live in a foreign country for work you will need insurance that covers your medical expenses or repatriation in case of illness or an accident while working or even in your everyday life. A proper insurance cover will allow you to pack and go with peace of mind for you and your family.
If traveling on a tourist visa, depending on the length of your stay, the insurance will also be different. Also, for a stay as a tourist you will certainly want insurance that covers your luggage. Or will refund you in case of cancellation of your stay. If you are going to do sports activities (skydiving, climbing etc), make sure that these are covered by your insurance contract.
Special medical needs
Your personal needs and condition must be taken into account when choosing your travel insurance. Do you have a physical disability or a specific illness or condition that requires a continuing treatment? Then you will need a special health insurance. In this situation, the best option is to contact your national health care system. Discuss with them the potential reciprocal agreement they may have with other countries.
Travel Insurance Companies
Depending on your type of travel, different travel insurance companies would be able to offer you the cover that is best for you and your needs. It is important to compare all of them and find the right one for you. Check the covers, prices, your needs, the services offered.
Among the most popular companies, you will find: Chapka Insurances, WorldNomads, Go Walkabout, World First Travel Insurance, and Columbus Direct.
Read also : Travel Insurance Companies
The healthcare system in Australia
Medicare, the publicly funded health scheme of the country covers all Australians.
Australia has signed agreements with 11 countries. Those cover the cost of medically necessary care when Australians visit certain countries and visitors from these countries visit Australia.
Those countries are: United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Slovenia, Malta.
Visitors from these countries are entitled to some subsidised health services for essential medical treatment while visiting Australia.
The length of cover depends on your country of origin. For example, if you are a resident of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden or Norway, you are covered for the entire length of your stay in Australia.
See the list of countries and specific informations on: Reciprocal Health Care Agreement.
Consultations fees in Australia
Here are a few examples of consultation fees in Australia.
- Consultation with a general practitioner: Between 70 and 100 AUD *
- Medical specialist: between 150 and 250 AUD
* Note : To get an appointment with a medical specialist, you will need to go through a general practitioner. The fee is between 200 and 250 AUD.
- MRI: Between 200 and 800 AUD *
- Hospitalisation: More than 1000 AUD per day *
* Rates vary by city and medical practice
Read also : Australian Health Care System