Last week ABC News reported on Australian woman Dawn Weldon, who's racked up a $56,000 debt in medical bills after being hospitalised following a motorcyle accident in Thailand.
And that's not the final bill with another $36,000 needed for medical evacuation back to Australia.
Dawn had travel insurance but she wasn't covered for driving a motorbike without a licence, even although it's legal in Thailand.
This kind of financial disaster can happen to any Australian who either doesn't have any travel insurance, or who does non insured activity while on their trip.
And what's shocking is how many Aussies travel without any or enough cover.
Taking the risk
Eight per cent of Australian adults travelled without travel insurance on their last overseas trip according to a survey commissioned by the Australian Government and the Insurance Council of Australia.
That's 850,000 visits by Australians overseas without insurance.
The Australian Travel Insurance Behaviour survey also found many travellers wrongly believed the Australian Government would pay their medical bills or medical evacuation costs if required.
The findings from the survey are staggering:
- 50 per cent of insured travellers engaged in risky behaviour on their last overseas trip.
- Males are more likely to engage in risky behaviour than females (55% versus 46%).
- The most common insurable risky activities are water sports, playing sport, riding a motorcycle or moped and adventure sports.
Lack of knowledge of what travellers are covered for is widespread.
- 27 per cent were not covered or weren't sure they were covered for medical expenses.
- At least 40 per cent were not covered or weren't sure they were covered for flight cancellations, loss of passports or theft of valuables.
- Two-thirds (65%) were not covered or weren't sure they were covered for natural disasters.
- A quarter (24%) of all travellers experienced a loss on their most recent overseas trip that would be covered by most travel insurance policies.
- 54 per cent of those policyholders made a claim, of which 82 per cent were fully or partly paid.
- Three quarters (72%) of uninsured travellers acknowledge that they are exposed to significant or devastating debt.
- Half (50%) of all travellers visit the Smartraveller website before booking their trip.
- Those with travel insurance were more likely to have visited the Smartraveller website (53%) compared to those without travel insurance (23%).
A media release from Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop states, “Australians should be fully prepared for overseas travel and take responsibility for individual travel decisions. This includes obtaining comprehensive insurance, being aware of insurance policy conditions and visiting Smartraveller to understand advice for destinations, including the laws of those countries”.
If you are about to head overseas - don't take the risk. Find out about what Travel Insurance you need here.