ARE you one of those people that rush around in the hectic hours before starting a holiday nailing down last-minute details that seem to evade attention until departure is imminent?
Ringing the bank to let them know the credit card will be used in faraway lands, storming the chemist to stock up on travel medication, cancelling the newspaper, rummaging through boxes to find that bag of foreign currency, dashing to the shop to buy new suitcase locks, arranging travel insurance.
While the first few tasks can be taken care of well in advance by drafting a thoughtful to-do list, the last item can be eliminated entirely by securing an annual travel policy that lasts 12 months and means obtaining insurance only happens once every year.
World Nomads spokesman Phil Sylvester says around 25 per cent of customers lock down their travel cover in the 24 hours before departure — during what he describes as a “minor panic attack’’ — with an annual policy eliminating one step in the pre-departure routine for frequent flyers.
“It’s the lucky ones travelling a lot who buy annual insurance — retirees, business people, digital nomads living the location-independent life — but they are also money-smart people and have worked out there is a considerable saving to be had,’’ he says.
”This option can save travellers money and how much depends on a couple of factors, in particular age, but if you travel more than twice a year it’s worth it with your third departure the point where you start saving real money.
”Obviously the fourth, fifth and subsequent trips increase those savings but then your friends start to hate you for travelling so much.’’
What is annual travel insurance?
According to Canstar financial services executive Steven Mickenbecker an annual, or multi-trip policy, covers business and leisure travellers alike for what is usually an unlimited number of journeys made across a 365-day stretch.
“It’s worth noting you must be making multiple trips and you can’t take out one of these policies and head off for a year-long trek but be returning to home base between shorter outings,” he says.
“The advantages are two-fold and first up you have the convenience of researching, identifying, and purchasing a suitable policy only once in a 12-month period, rather than each time you book a trip, which means insurance is one less thing to think about when you’re planning a holiday.
“The other advantage is you can save money and you will generally cover the cost of the annual premium in a few trips, so if you’re travelling more often there will likely be savings, and the annual policy is usually very similar to the single-trip policy in terms of what you’re covered for.”
Processing the fine print
The Canstar expert warns that with many companies offering a range of protection options, some of which are more comprehensive than others on what’s included, customers need to be just as conscientious when securing a year-long shield as they are snagging cover for a single departure.
“You have to understand what is considered to be a trip and it usually starts when you leave home and ends when you return, with duration capped and that sometimes varies between different policies, but generally if one trip exceeds three months the annual policy won’t cover it,’’ he says.
“Destination also matters and don’t expect to be covered for a location not included in a single-trip policy, like a country with a do-not-travel warning from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, so if you know the places you will be visiting nominate them or take out a worldwide policy.
“The cost of travel insurance varies for different destinations, which means the price of the annual policy will be linked to your highest-cost destination, and this can make it less economical if that destination represents just a small portion of your travel.’’
Things to consider before buying
The trick to deciding if multiple single-trip policies or annual umbrella is the way to go for a regular roamer is running the numbers with customers advised to use the online resources now available — like the helpful websites offered by travel insurance companies — to research before signing up.
“Compare the two alternatives for the same level of cover with the same insurer to decide which works out economically and check the conditions for any maximum number of trips and the maximum duration of any one trip,’’ Mickenbecker recommends.
“Travel insurance covers medical expenses and evacuation, emergency dental, cancellation fees and lost deposits, travel delays, rental vehicle expenses, and loss or theft of baggage and personal belongings but it is medical cover that should not be compromised.
“Take out unlimited cover, or a number in the millions, as costs can be extreme and a serious medical event while overseas can be life-changing in terms of your health and your finances so you want to make sure you will be looked after.’’
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