Alcohol and Travel Insurance

A holiday – finally! You’re gearing up to relax, unwind and indulge in the finer things in life. Perhaps lounging by the pool with a cocktail? Or having a delicious glass of wine by the fireplace? For some people, holidays and alcohol may go hand in hand, but it’s important to keep in mind what being under the influence of alcohol can mean for your travel insurance cover. 


Am I covered by travel insurance if I have consumed alcohol?

This is the age-old question – and unfortunately there isn’t a clearly defined answer. Most travel insurers will have a general exclusion listed, that will state that the coverage is void if you are under the influence of alcohol during the ‘incident’ in which you are claiming for. This could either be a general exclusion or it may include a specific Blood Alcohol Content limit. 

Travel insurance is designed to cover ‘unforeseen’ or ‘unexpected’ events, however there is an expectation that you take reasonable care to foresee a range of events and take action to avoid them where possible. This is where the alcohol clause comes in. 

However, having a glass of wine or two (and not having your judgement impaired in any way), is unlikely to affect your claim, especially since this means that the incident probably didn’t have anything to do with your 2016 Vintage Merlot.  

We’ve outlined how you can safely enjoy alcohol on your holiday, and how the consumption of alcohol could affect your claiming experience. 


family at table


What to consider when consuming alcohol on holiday

1) Understand your policy
The best thing you can do to ensure you know what you’re covered and not covered for is to carefully read and understand your policy documentation. Ask questions before you take out your insurance if there’s anything you’re not sure about. Insurers may word their alcohol exclusions section differently, so make sure you’re aware of what their expectations are. It’s also a great way to understand any other conditions of your cover before you set off on your adventure. 

2) Be aware of the legal drinking age in your holiday destination 
It goes without saying to make sure you’re always abiding by the local law of whichever place you’ve chosen to holiday. Following the law is generally a condition of your travel insurance policy and this includes alcohol age laws, no matter how ‘unenforced’ they may seem. 

3) Responsible consumption 
For many reasons, it’s a smart idea to be aware of how much alcohol you’re consuming, and this is especially true while on a holiday.  You’re in an unfamiliar setting, so it’s best to take it easier than you normally would at home, just in case you find yourself in a situation that requires your full attention. Different customs, currencies, ways to pay, and landscapes all pose extra risks when you’re under the influence of alcohol. 

4) Remain extra vigilant 
Another piece of advice that is important throughout the duration of your holiday, but especially if you are planning a cocktail or two at sunset, is to remain vigilant. Keep track of your belongings, leave any valuables in a safe place. Be aware of situations around you and make the right decisions to keep you and your party safe. 

5) Plan ahead 
Ensure you have transport planned, whether it’s understanding the bus and train routes, or having a taxi or rideshare booked. Know where you’ll be going and plan your night and try to stick to it so you’re aware of your surroundings. Ensure you know the emergency contact numbers for your holiday destination. 

6) Keep track of any incidents
If anything does happen, be sure to report it if applicable, or note it down to discuss with your travel insurer as soon as possible. Keep receipts, emails or messages, or anything else that might help your claim assessment. The more information you can provide, the smoother the claim process will be. 


woman in vines

How do travel insurers treat a claim where alcohol is involved?

Having a glass of wine or two doesn’t mean your insurer will automatically reject your travel insurance claim – but it can mean that they may consider the events and the likelihood of the occurrence, had you not been under the influence of alcohol. 

How will your insurer know if you were under the influence of alcohol, you may ask? 

Well, there are several scenarios that could be considered here. If there is an instance where alcohol is likely to have been involved, insurers do have to acknowledge all the factors that may have resulted in the event, and whether it could have been avoidable. Things like your bar tab, a medical report, or a hotel record could all indicate a level of alcohol consumed during a claimable incident. This could vary from one insurance provider to another, and the evidence required could also depend on the complexity of your claim, or if fraud is suspected. If you disagree with your insurer’s decision about your alcohol consumption in relation to your claim, you’ll have the opportunity to dispute the decision. 

It’s important to note exclusions are often enforced for all types of claims – not just medically related ones. Any incident that results in a claim while you are under the influence of alcohol can be affected. For example, a smashed phone due to carelessness while intoxicated could impact the viability of your claim. As mentioned above, it’s important to remain vigilant and take extra safety precautions when consuming alcohol on your holiday to minimise your need to claim. 

Over the past 12 months, SCTI has only declined two claims related to alcohol consumption, so it’s clear that most travellers are taking a cautious approach to a tipple on holiday. Exercise caution when sipping that cocktail poolside, warming up with an après-ski tipple or socialising with a local IPA, and you’ll be able to enjoy your next adventure, worry-free. 

The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.
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