Wednesday 29 November 2006 LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs Network – The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has urged Australians planning holidays this festive season to read the fine print when shopping around for travel insurance. ‘Whether you’re planning to sky dive in New Zealand, take on the legendary surf at Ulu Watu in Bali, or simply lie on the beach on the Sunshine Coast, make sure you’re familiar with the terms and conditions of your insurance policy in case the unexpected happens’, said ASIC’s Executive Director of Consumer Protection, Mr Greg Tanzer.
Mr Tanzer said approximately 18 per cent of all complaints to the Insurance Ombudsman in 2004/2005 were about travel insurance – an increase from 15 per cent in 2003/2004. Disputes about conditions or exclusions under policies remain the most common reasons for denial of claims. ‘While a travel insurance policy will usually cover events such as personal injury and some loss or theft of your possessions, it will also contain a number of exclusions’, Mr Tanzer said. ‘It’s important people read the fine detail about policies and if in doubt, ask their insurer about how conditions or exclusions work in practice.
‘Comparing different travel insurance policies might save you money as well as some nasty surprises. Try to find a policy that suits you and the type of holiday you’re planning. Don’t just chase the cheapest policy without checking exactly what it covers you for or you could end up without enough cover.’ According to Mr Tanzer, some policies cover a broader range of adventure-type activities. Many include 24-hour medical assistance, a help line and private hospital cover, although travellers should be careful of any ‘special circumstances’ that might apply. Policies routinely exclude claims for loss or damage suffered because: • Your airline stops trading and you can no longer travel; • You travel to certain countries against the advice of the Australian Government. Check the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s website, www.dfat.gov.au [or go directly to www.smartraveller.gov.au], for the latest travel warnings; • You cancel plans because of fear of terrorism;
and safety checks,
Visit FIDO, ASIC’s website for consumers and investors for financial tips
• You didn’t advise the insurer of a pre-existing medical conditions or you travel against medical advice; • You join in ‘adventure sports’ or other hazardous activities like bungee jumping, white water rafting, ballooning, snow skiing and scuba diving; • You leave your luggage unattended in a public place and it is lost or stolen; • Your cash is lost or stolen. Many insurers don’t cover cash; • Valuable items such as cameras, sound equipment, or mobiles are stolen if left unattended in a hire car; • You’re over 80 years old. If you’re over 70, you usually need a medical assessment and you’ll probably have to pay a higher premium; or • You cancel plans because of a change in your financial circumstances or business obligations. ASIC’s consumer website, FIDO, at www.fido.gov.au, provides more information about getting insurance as well as a wide variety of savings and investment tips. ASIC also produces a number of free publications about managing your money, getting advice, and understanding financial products. These can be downloaded from FIDO and are also available by calling ASIC’s Infoline on 1300 300 630. For further information contact: Greg Tanzer Executive Director, Consumer Protection Telephone: 07 3867 4704 Mobile: 0411 549 144 Emma Forehan ASIC Media Unit Telephone: 03 9280 3354 Mobile: 0409 702 310