Travel Insurance

Overseas travel has changed significantly, and travel insurance is often purchased online, via an agent, or as a credit card perk. Check your policy for what you are, and are not, covered for, and check what you need to do if your travel plans are unexpectedly interrupted.

New Caledonia civil unrest

Many travel insurance policies exclude cover for civil unrest or rioting. If you have booked an upcoming trip to New Caledonia, check your travel insurance policy and exclusions, and contact your insurer. We recommend you keep up to date with travel warnings for New Caledonia at

Air Vanuatu/ insolvent airlines

Most travel insurance policies don’t provide cover for the financial collapse of an airline. Check your travel insurance policy, and contact your insurer if you are unsure. If you do have insolvency cover in your policy, check the details. For more information, see What can you do if your airline is insolvent? Travel insurance experts advise - NZ Herald

  1. Purchase travel insurance as soon as possible

    Ideally, purchase travel insurance when you book and pay for tickets. This will make cancellation cover more likely should anything unexpected go wrong at home or at your destination. If you buy insurance after travel warnings have been issued about an imminent disaster (e.g. an erupting volcano), cancellation is unlikely to be covered. This is because it’s no longer “unexpected”. See:

  2. Check and understand your policy

    Always get a copy of your policy and read it. Take note of exclusions and limitations – such as time limits or age restrictions on credit card insurance; monetary limits for valuable items; and exclusions, such as pre-existing conditions

  3. Tell your insurer about pre-existing conditions

    “Pre-existing conditions” are health conditions or symptoms that exist before you travel (e.g. you might know you have a sore knee, but not have a diagnosed condition; however, it will be seen as a pre-existing condition and not covered). The pre-existing conditions are usually excluded from cover, unless the insurer has accepted them in writing and had charged an extra premium. When arranging insurance, disclose all health conditions and symptoms you’re aware of, including conditions or symptoms which arise after you purchase insurance but before you travel.

  4. Take care of yourself and your belongings

    Leaving bags “unattended in a public place” (including airports, stations, hotel foyers and beaches) is a common exclusion. You are required to take “reasonable care”, be vigilant, and adhere to warnings. This includes wearing jewellery “on your person” or locking it (and other valuables) in a room safe; and packing electronics and other valuables as carry-on luggage, not checked-in, on flights.

  5. Report incidents immediately

    Report lost or stolen items to police immediately. Your policy will provide specific timeframes for reporting (i.e. 24 hours). You are required to prove your loss when making a claim. Details of a free 24-hour helpline for emergency medical and travel assistance service should be in the policy - check it out before you go.

“So, no” response leads to complaint image
When, because of travel restrictions, a woman asked her insurer if she was covered for the cost of h...
See the case summary
Man with Indian hospital bill argues “Australasia” must include “Asia” image
Man with Indian hospital bill argues “Australasia” must include “Asia”
A man complained to the IFSO Scheme when his claim for medical expenses in India were declined. He s...
See the case summary
Covid-19: cancelled travel image
Check your exclusions. Most travel policies exclude global pandemics.
Barry cancelled his Bali trip due to Covid-19. His insurance claim was declined due to the pandemic exclusion.
See the case summary
Mountain eruption not unexpected image
Insurance covers unexpected events. Purchase insurance when you arrange travel.
Brendan purchased travel insurance after the eruption in Bali had been widely reported. His claim was declined.
See the case summary
Swiss watch swiped: Spain image
Check for exclusions and limitations. Travel exceeded 90-day limit on credit card
The credit card travel insurance policy had a 90-day limit. The watch was stolen on day 57 of the 100-day trip.
See the case summary
The missing bag and the rotting meat image
Check your policy exclusions. Don’t pack perishables in your checked luggage
When Amelia arrived in the States, her bag didn't. She returned to NZ to discover the bag was ruined, from rotting meat.
See the case summary
The great train station robbery image
Check your policy exclusions. Don’t ever leave your bags unattended in public places
Raj's bag, worth $13,000, was stolen at Zurich train station when he walked briefly to the rubbish bin.
See the case summary
Pania lost her ring in the sea, fake photos didn’t help image
Report stolen or lost items to police immediately. To make a claim, you need to prove your loss and always tell the truth
Pania’s claim for her ring and iPhone was declined. She had no proof of loss.
See the case summary
Storm in a tea shop, the unattainable police report image
A police report is required to prove your loss. Some policies contain an exception when this not reasonably practicable.
When making a claim for his backpack, Ari had no police report. He had, however, tried to get one.
See the case summary
No cover for anxiety, loss of enjoyment image
If a pre-existing condition is the cause of cancellation, the exclusion applies to all policy holders.
Louise’s daughter's anxiety prevented her from leaving the hotel, or participating in any activities, during their holiday.
See the case summary
Mr M’s trip to NZ ends in tragedy image
Pre-existing condition exclusions apply even if indirectly related.
Mr M’s heart attack was indirectly related to his hypertension and diabetes. His son’s claim for the...
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Roger’s trip ends in tragedy, waiver applies image
Pre-existing condition exclusions also apply to family members who aren’t travelling. Sometimes a waiver can apply, if there is proof the condition is stable
Just before he left on holiday, Vinnie's father died. Vinnie postponed his trip and made a claim.
See the case summary
No ambulance cover for pre-existing conditions image
Pre-existing conditions are excluded, unless your insurer has accepted them in writing and charged an extra premium.
Mae's daughter Eva collapsed at a restaurant in Australia. Mae later made a claim for the cost of an ambulance ride.
See the case summary
No insurance for man who skipped flight to make cruise image
If you choose to change travel plans, when you don't need to, this won't be covered.
Charles decided he couldn't run the risk of missing the cruise due to a cancelled flight. Instead, h...
See the case summary

Our Information Sheets in our Document Library have quick guides to common issues. Consumer tips and case examples are included.

Our Glossary explains the meaning of technical terms used in tips and cases.

Travel warnings and advisories: See the Safe Travel site.