Travel costs and insurance

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Travel costs can be varied and expensive.  There are a few tips you should consider before purchasing the travel.  Checking terms and conditions is essential in any travel package, accomodation or insurance. 

Costs

Published travel costs are subject to change, even if you have paid a deposit. This is because it is impossible to foresee fluctuations in exchange rates, hotel rate changes, fuel price rises etc. You may be able to avoid price rises by paying for your holiday in full.

Check all terms and conditions such as fees for changing or cancelling your travel at the time of booking, or if you use a travel agency, check with the agent.

Check the conditions on any "special" deals which can make the offer not as attractive as it seems. For example, to qualify for an incredibly low airfare, you may have to purchase expensive hotel accommodation and./or pay for the accommodation in full in advance, with no option to change dates or cancel. The package may still represent good value, just make sure you review them very carefully.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is something every traveller should consider.  Medical costs in some countries can be very expensive and an injury or illness while travelling could leave you with very significant bills to pay.

Shop around for insurance to make sure you are getting the right cover for your needs and that it represents good value for money. 

If you pay for travel or accommodation by credit card and the credit card provider includes insurance, read the policy to determine under what circumstances you are entitled to make a claim.

Check what the insurance does and does not cover, such as medical costs, cancellations or insolvency of travel operators.

Before you take out any insurance, ask for a copy of the policy conditions and take time to read them very carefully. If you are not sure you understand the conditions ask your travel agent or get independent advice.

Take particular note of any special conditions with which you must comply in order to make a claim. For example, your claim for theft may be rejected if you don't report the theft to police where you are holidaying, within 48 hours.

Take a copy of your policy and product disclosure statement with you on holiday and leave another copy with someone at home. Make sure you take all the contact information you might need in the event you need to make a claim.

Smartraveller has some tips on travel insurance including a CHOICE buying guide.

Insolvency insurance

Travel insurance products don’t generally cover you if you suffer monetary loss when a travel agent (or other intermediary, for example travel wholesaler or tour operator) ceases trading, becomes insolvent or fails to pass on money to a hotel or other travel operator. Insurance for this is usually purchased by the travel business and cannot be purchased from travel agents by individual consumers.

Insolvency is generally excluded from consumer general travel insurance products, however you may be able to purchase additional cover.

Some travel agents may have specific arrangements in place to protect your payments, for example, they may have insolvency insurance in place to protect customers’ funds in the event of the business or other intermediary which they deal with collapsing. It is strongly recommended you ask your travel agent for proof of insolvency cover and check for what you will be covered if the money you have paid is not passed on.

Insurance disputes

Travel insurance disputes can be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1300 780 808 and free legal advice is available from the Insurance Law Service on 1300 663 464.

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