Heading to Bali? Know the risks

Posted Date: 22 December 2014
Bali know the risks

With its close proximity and familiar accents heard on the street, Bali can often feel less foreign than some other parts of the world. The idyllic Indonesian isle has become one of Australia’s favourite destinations, and each year over 900,000 Australians travel there in search of sun, sea and sand.

However, as with all international destinations, good travel insurance cover like SCTI’s TravelCare policy is crucial.

It’s really important to remember that Bali isn’t Australia, and whether you plan to drink cocktails on a sun lounger or ride a scooter to Bali’s best breaks, travel insurance is key – going without it isn’t worth the staggeringly high cost of injury, illness or other misfortune.

While medical evacuations are the costliest, the most common claims SCTI receives from island holidays result from:

  • People losing jewellery
  • People requiring rabies vaccinations after being bitten by stray dogs
  • Injuries due to scooter accidents
  • Broken teeth on hard foods (due to bones being left in meat cuts)
  • Cuts that need stitches from coral
  • Surfing injuries
  • Gastric flu

In the last year SCTI has paid for $17,000 of hospital expenses incurred in Indonesia after a traveller developed pneumonia. Earlier in the year SCTI paid a $9,000 claim when a tourist was hospitalised in Indonesia with appendicitis.

Risky business

According to 2012 research, one Australian died in Bali every nine days. In that year, the Consulate reported that 93 Australians sought consular help after being taken to hospital, 36 were arrested, 18 were jailed and eight were attacked. Night club fights and traffic incidents were reported as being the primary problems encountered by Australian travellers in Bali.

On top of this, there were also many Australians admitted to hospital and in contact with the police, who didn’t turn to the consulate for help.

Drugs and alcohol are the primary reasons for these incidents (and these won’t be covered by travel insurance!), but inexperience, unfamiliar roads and traffic conditions can cause plenty of hiccups too.

When hiring mopeds or motorcycles, it’s important to note that you must obey all road rules and laws, wear a helmet while riding a moped or motorcycle, and that mopeds or motorcycles must have an engine capacity of 200cc or less to be covered for any unexpected events under the TravelCare policy.

Bad news

In addition to drink spiking, methanol poisoning in alcoholic beverages is a very real danger. A large number of Australian travellers have been blinded by methanol (which the body cannot absorb) in local drink Arak, and several have died. The standard of care in a typical Balinese hospital differs widely from its Australian counterpart, and many sick or injured travellers’ families opt for their loved ones to be returned to Australia for treatment… at a significant expense. This can sometimes cost more than $60,000 AUD. Ouch!


Mother nature

Aussies love Bali for its natural splendour, but be mindful of the season in which you are travelling and stay weather wise. Indonesia is prone to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and floods, while typhoons are likely between September and December. Weather systems can hit these regions fast and strong causing travel delays and cancellations. Before you book your flight always check www.smartraveller.gov.au to see if there are any travel alerts issued.


The Department of Foreign Affairs’ website continues to post advice that Indonesia may be the target of a terrorist attack, which could come at any time. It advises visitors to avoid places known to be possible terrorist targets and with low levels of security. Again, check www.smartraveller.gov.au before you purchase flights, as any act of terrorism are not covered under the TravelCare policy.

Petty crimes

Even small crimes, such as a snatched purse or a picked pocket can, ruin a holiday, so take care when you’re out and about.  Indonesia is one of the most common countries for snatch and grab jewellery thefts, as it is high value and easy to on-sell. SCTI urges travellers to tone down obvious displays of wealth. Wearing a 24 carat gold chain that could support a local family for a year is an example – you might be on holiday but local thieves aren’t.

And it’s not just people taking advantage of travellers. In Bali, for example, cunning locals have trained macaques to steal items such as sunglasses, cameras and jewellery from tourists, with the goods later being exchanged for monkey treats.


How to get help

So you’re on holiday in Bali, and your sunny island escape doesn’t end up going to plan. Encountering problems on holiday are never ideal, but there are ways to get yourself sorted out.

With all SCTI policies you gain access to our Emergency Assistance team who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Depending on the seriousness of your situation, you may wish to contact the Australian consulate in Bali.

If you have lost your passport or travel documents, the consulate is the place to go.

That said, be aware there are limits to what a Consulate can do. For example, the Consulate won’t provide legal advice or pay medical bills, nor will they pay for accommodation.

Travel Insurance

As the saying goes, if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel.

Failing to take out an appropriate policy may leave you liable for very expensive emergency medical treatment or evacuation. Provided that the activity that’s landed you in your predicament falls within the policy wording terms and conditions, SCTI provides cover for unexpected events. The TravelCare policy is a comprehensive one, with the following benefits provided:

  • access to our 24-hour emergency assistance team,
  • overseas hospitalisation,
  • personal accident,
  • personal liability,
  • medical expenses and evacuation,  
  • changes to your planned journey, such as cancellation or interruptions,
  • personal items being lost, stolen or damaged,
  • rental car excess,
  • emergency dental expenses,
  • and funeral expenses 

Along with making certain you have travel insurance that covers the activities you are likely to do; travellers to islands should also take the time to pack a basic summer holiday first aid that includes sunscreen, insect repellent and antibacterial ointment.

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