Holiday Warning - Put Travel Insurance at the top of the Christmas List

Almost 40 per cent of Australian holidaymakers fail to buy their travel insurance until a week before their holiday, putting themselves at financial risk, according to leading online travel insurance company Travel Insurance Direct (TID). 

While travellers often purchase their airfares up to a year in advance to secure a bargain, research shows travel insurance was being pushed down the list and bought much later, TID ( spokesman Graham Kingaby said. 

Mr Kingaby warned that the time lag was placing consumers at risk unnecessarily. 

"As we've seen in recent weeks there are many unforeseen issues, from airline strikes to floods, which can jeopardise your holiday plans at the last minute.  

"But if disaster strikes before your holiday and you haven't bought travel insurance, you'll lose your cash as well as your vacation." 

Mr Kingaby said that TID's research showed around two-thirds of travellers bought their insurance in the four weeks before they travelled, with almost 40 per cent waiting until the final week before departure. 

"The trend in travel at the moment is to buy airfares early - up to a year before departure - to get the best deals, but to wait until the last minute to get a bargain on accommodation," Mr Kingaby said. 

"Unfortunately too many people are delaying their travel insurance purchases also. 

"Travel insurance isn't a last minute bargain – you get the best benefit by purchasing early, as soon as you book your flights. Otherwise you are leaving yourself very exposed." 

Mr Kingaby said that in the case of the Icelandic volcano eruption in April 2010, which led to an estimated 300,000 flight cancellations, travel insurance exclusions on cancellation and delay came into effect the day after the eruption. 

"Those who had bought their insurance before the eruption were fine. But anyone planning to travel in the week after the volcano erupted who didn't already have travel insurance would have been cursing their tardiness." 

Mr Kingaby urged travellers to move their insurance to the top of their list as they prepare for Christmas holidays. 

"If you buy your policy when you buy your airfare, not only is that investment covered, but so too are all your subsequent holiday purchases like accommodation and car hire," he said. 

Mr Kingaby said that travel insurance was far cheaper than most consumers believed.  

"A single person's policy for a week in Bali is about $40. When you consider the cost of losing your luggage or having to seek medical treatment overseas, that's clearly money well spent."


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