Common travel insurance questions

1. When does the policy start? From the date I purchase or from the date I travel?

Your start date of insurance depends on the type of policy you buy:

  • Single Trip Policy – your start date of insurance is the date and time we issue your Single Trip Policy, which is confirmed on your Certificate of Insurance.
  • Annual Multi-Trip Policy – your start date of insurance is the date and time you choose the policy to start, which is confirmed on your Certificate of Insurance.

We recommend you purchase or select to start your travel insurance as soon as you make any payments for your trip, such as cruise or accommodation deposits, or flights. You can purchase a TravelCare policy up to a year before your departure. That way you’re covered if the unexpected happens.

All other sections of the TravelCare policy (such as medical and personal items cover) start on the date you select as your ‘Start Date of Journey’, or the date you depart, whichever is later.

For more information on how to enter your policy dates when purchasing a TravelCare policy, click here.


2. Do you cover natural disasters or extreme weather?

If your travel plans have to be altered, or even cancelled, due to an unexpected event, there’s cover under the policy for this. The amount of cover you have will depend on what you selected when you purchased your policy. However, if you purchase/start your travel insurance or book your trip after the unexpected event has taken place, it would not be considered an unexpected event under your policy, and you would not be covered for those costs. If you’re unsure, contact us and we can advise whether you’d be covered under the policy or not.


3. How does rental car excess work? What does it cover?

If you hire a rental car overseas, you will have cover under the TravelCare policy for the excess up to $5,000 AUD. The excess is what you may be charged if you damage the rental car.  We recommend that you check the rental vehicle agreement to see whether the excess is less than $5,000 AUD because if it is, you won’t need to pay an additional fee to waiver the excess.

You just need to make sure that the vehicle is hired from a licensed rental vehicle agency and that you follow all road rules and local driving laws while using the vehicle. Any terms and conditions laid out by the rental company also need to be followed so that you’re covered – by them and by us!

Finally, just make sure that only the driver named on the rental documents is in charge of the vehicle and that it’s driven only on formed, paved roads or carparks – we can’t cover you if you choose to make your own roads!


4. If I have an accident at home and have to cancel my travel plans, will my flights be covered?

Our policy automatically provides cover if you need to cancel or delay your trip before you go away. The amount of cover you have will depend on what you selected when you purchased your policy.

The level of cover you choose will be on a per policy basis. This means you should consider the cancellation or delay costs of all the people on your policy. Typically, people choose an amount that will cover all your prepaid travel tickets, hotels, tours or other travel related expenses for all travellers on the policy.


5. I am planning to visit a potentially dangerous country, am I covered?

That depends on whether or not there’s a travel advisory issued for the country on the Smartraveller website at the time you purchase your travel insurance policy. 

Let’s say you want to visit a country that currently has a ‘extreme’ or ‘high’ travel advisory. If the advisory was issued before you bought your travel insurance, we wouldn’t cover you for events related to that advisory because we would not consider it unexpected if you encounter problems.

If you bought your policy and then an ‘extreme’ or ‘high’ travel advisory was issued before you depart, there would be cover to cancel or alter your trip, provided it is not related to any other general exclusion, for example terrorism.

If an act of terrorism occurs once you are overseas, there would be cover for medical expenses if you get hurt as a result of that act of terrorism, provided there was no travel advisory issued before you departed.

Remember, your safety is more important than any adventure, so always check whether any travel advisories have been issued on the website before you book your travel plans.

If you have any doubts about whether the TravelCare policy will provide cover, our customer services team are always happy to help. Please feel free to contact us for clarification


6. Am I covered for my existing medical condition?

Pre-existing medical conditions are not automatically covered under our TravelCare policy.

A pre-existing medical condition is any illness or injury of any person named on your Certificate of Insurance, which that person is aware of, or a reasonable person in that person’s circumstances ought to have been aware of, which in the last 3 years prior to your:

  • start date of insurance (on the Single Trip Policy); or
  • issue date of insurance (on the Annual Multi-Trip Policy),

that person has sought, received, been recommended or is waiting for:

  • advice from a health professional;
  • tests, investigations or specialist consultations;
  • care, treatment, or medical attention including surgery; or
  • medication or a script for medication;

whether or not a medical diagnosis has been made.

If you have any heart, vascular or lung illness or Type 2 diabetes you must tell us about these, as well as any other pre-existing medical conditions that you may have when you complete the online medical assessment.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that is NOT a heart, vascular or lung illness or Type 2 diabetes, you can decide whether you want to tell us about these pre-existing medical conditions when
you apply for cover.

Even undiagnosed symptoms are considered to be pre-existing medical conditions under the TravelCare policy. If you have undiagnosed symptoms, you will be unable to declare these and they will remain excluded from cover under your policy.

Once you’ve declared your pre-existing medical conditions, we will confirm whether we can offer cover and the additional premium you will need to pay if you would like the cover, all before you purchase the policy.

You can choose to pay for the cover, or leave the conditions excluded from cover and still buy the policy, in which case we will still cover you for other unexpected events unrelated to your excluded pre-existing medical condition/s, such as falling over and injuring yourself or travel delays.

If you’re not happy with the outcome of the medical assessment, there is no obligation for you to purchase a policy.

For further information on pre-existing medical conditions, you might find these questions and answers we have written in this article helpful


7. How can I make a claim for an item that is lost or stolen overseas without a receipt?

If you need to make a claim for a lost or stolen personal item but don’t have the receipt, there’s still hope.

To be able to assess your claim, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership and value for your items, as well as proof of the unexpected event which caused you to make a claim.  Proof of an unexpected event, for example, would be a police report, or baggage loss form provided by the airport baggage services or airline.

While original receipts are preferred to show us proof of ownership and proof of value, you can also send us one or more of the following documents:

  • A reprinted receipt from the store you purchased the item from; or
  • A bank/credit card statement showing the purchase of the item; or
  • Any other document which verifies the date of purchase and price paid for the claimed item.

Although we encourage travellers to submit their claims promptly, there is no time limit to do this. Just make sure that you post us the documents as soon as you can do so conveniently. We can then assess the claim once we receive the supporting documentation.


8. I will be travelling soon and have a sick/elderly family member at home – what happens if they die or are hospitalised?

The TravelCare policy provides cover for unexpected events. However, limited cover is provided if a member of your immediate family member dies, is hospitalised, admitted to end stage palliative care, or diagnosed with a terminal illness, even if you know that they are unwell when you travel.

As an example, let’s say that a member of your immediate family has had a heart condition for 10 years. You fly overseas and then suddenly they have a heart attack and are hospitalised. You want to return home to be with them as the prognosis isn’t good.

As with all claims, we ask that in the first instance you seek refunds from your service providers such as airlines and accommodation, and submit a claim with us for anything they don’t cover.

Under the TravelCare policy, immediate family is considered to be your spouse, fiance, fiancée, parent, sibling, child, stepchild, foster child, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild, parent-in-law, brother or sister-in-law, son or daughter in-law.

If you’d like to know more, please feel free to contact our fantastic contact centre team, they’re always happy to help. 


9. Can you reimburse me the replacement cost of my lost or stolen items? Can you explain the rate of depreciation?

The TravelCare policy is not a replacement policy, which means that baggage and personal items are covered for their current value.

We work out what the current value of the item is by taking the original purchase price, and deducting an amount for deprecation. Depreciation is calculated based on the age of the item at the time the unexpected loss or theft occurs.  Different rates of depreciation apply depending on the type of item. For example, items such as electronics have a higher rate of depreciation applied to them than jewellery.

There are also limits that apply per item depending on the type of item, so please make sure you check the policy wording for full details.

If you need to claim for lost or stolen personal items, you will need to provide proof of ownership and value for the items. Please see the TravelCare policy wording for more details.


5 simple things you need to know about insurance

  1. Insurance provides cover for the unexpected. If you’re purchasing travel insurance after an event has occurred, you won’t be covered under your travel insurance policy.
  2. Always seek compensation directly from the provider, such as the airline or your accommodation, first. Then submit your claim with us for the short fall.
  3. Always follow the laws of the country you’re visiting. If you’re breaking the law of the country you’re in, you won’t be covered and we won’t be able to help you if you get stuck!
  4. In every travel insurance policy there are things we just won’t cover, these are known as ‘General Exclusions’. So make sure you read the policy wording before you purchase to ensure it covers you for what you want to do while you’re away.
  5. Contact us if you are ever unsure of whether you’ll be covered or not. After all, we’re here to help!


To view the policy wording in full, please click here.


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.

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

This article may contain hyperlinks to other websites owned or operated by third parties, or references to third party products or services. SCTI isn’t responsible for, and makes no recommendation about, the content or accuracy of any third party website, or for the suitability or performance of any product or service. The inclusion of a link in this article doesn’t imply that SCTI endorses the website or third party product/service