What is travel insurance good for?

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26 November 2018 The travel insurance industry
by Craig Morrison

Over the course of my 17 year career in travel insurance, the most troubling and frustrating times are when customers discover that the travel insurance policy they bought falls short of their expectations.

Too often this results from having zero relationship or connection to the brand or the people behind the product.

98% of customers don’t read their policy wording.

I attribute this to insurers just loading up the product with benefits over the years, so the wording is naturally long to explain all the technical insurance terms. Does anyone base their purchase on “hijack cash”?!? Or “personal liability” cover (which is poorly understood, and limited anyway)?!?

What travel insurance is ‘good’ for, or said another way, what it’s critical for, is to quickly arrange and pay for, or guarantee payment for, appropriate medical treatment overseas. In some rare cases, this may be life-saving treatment in a dire emergency. In most cases, it’s routine outpatient treatment for a stomach ache/gastro (read: hangover!), minor cuts and scrapes, or minor injuries requiring stitches.


At home…

In your home country, your home city, most people would do some checking around before signing up with a new GP, or would only go to a reputable A&E clinic for treatment. Even in NZ, many people avoid going to the public hospital emergency rooms, given the uncertainty of a long wait, and instead opt to pay for private treatment at an A&E. Local knowledge leads to confidence in terms of quality of care, wait times, and how much it will cost.


Overseas knowledge and local experts.

When going overseas it’s almost a certainty that the traveller will have zero or close to zero local knowledge about quality of care, wait times, and how much local treatment will cost. This is where even a cursory inquiry into your travel insurer will quickly establish whether they’re going to figure out how to help you on the fly, or whether they’ve already got a plan in place. By ‘plan,’ that means ‘boots on the ground’ in big cities and tourist hot spots, where an official, trusting, pre-vetted relationship already exists with a local partner. No travel insurer will have a handle on healthcare in every dark corner of the world. But a select few, Holiday Rescue amongst them, will have already established partnerships with overseas providers. These people aren’t just nameless, faceless, third parties – they’ve bought in to the Holiday Rescue brand promise to find ways to say ‘yes,’ to help navigate what to us is a foreign healthcare system. To them, it’s their own neighbourhood!


So, what’s travel insurance ‘good’ for?

If you make an informed choice, it’s ‘good’ for knowing that all of the homework and due diligence for pre-selecting a team of rock solid, trustworthy people in a bunch of countries around the world – who are going to help you when you need it most – is done for you, ahead of time. That should help you relax and enjoy your holiday more!

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