Natural disasters such as the recent earthquake in Nepal and volcano eruption in Chile serve as a timely reminder to check your destination is safe and purchase insurance long before you travel, advises Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI).
SCTI CEO Craig Morrison says it always pays to check a country’s safety status before travelling.
“Countries can be considered ‘unsafe’ for different reasons – maybe the political situation poses a threat or perhaps there’s been a natural disaster – which can not only mean a personal safety risk but, from a travel point of view, disrupted flights, transport and accommodation,” says Morrison.
Before booking an overseas trip, Morrison advises travellers check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) website www.safetravel.govt.nz and check travel insurance policies to see how a country’s risk status might affect coverage.
“For example, if there’s an ‘extreme’ or ‘high’ risk rating issued by MFAT, there will be no cover for costs incurred as a result of that risk - unless the policy was purchased before the risk occurred,” he says.
In the case of Nepal, travellers who purchased travel insurance before the earthquake will be covered for any unforeseen costs, while travellers taking out an insurance policy after the event won’t be able to claim for any earthquake-related expenses.
And while it’s best to avoid high risk areas, if you have to travel to a ‘extreme’ or ‘high’ risk country it’s still a safe bet to be insured as while the policy won’t cover risk related costs, you’ll be covered for expenses such as theft, illness or injury provided they don’t relate to the extreme or high risk event.
“It’s also crucial to purchase travel insurance on the same day you pay for your trip. Not only does the insurance policy not cost any more but buying in advance means you’re covered if something then happens in between booking your trip and travelling.
“For example, we recently had a claim where a person booked to fly to Europe six weeks in advance. They also bought travel insurance at the same time. This meant when he badly broke his leg two weeks before the travel date and could no longer go, the costs were all covered by insurance,” says Morrison.
“Travel insurance is about having peace of mind when you’re off exploring the world. Anything can happen, so we recommend you check out your destination and get insurance when you book tickets.”