Travel insurance: Advice on excess to avoid extra charges

Photo of Gemma Nisbet

Need to claim for more than one incident on your travel insurance? Beware of this potential pitfall that can leave you out of pocket. 

As a run of bad luck, it’s certainly not out of the ordinary: a trip where your flights are delayed, meaning you miss a connection and can’t use some of your pre-booked accommodation. Then your luggage gets waylaid. And you need to see a doctor while you’re away. 

But here’s the kicker: you get home and claim for the costs incurred on your travel insurance — only to be informed that the individual incident must be treated as a separate claim and you’ll need to pay an excess on each of them. 

Such was the case for a Travel reader who wrote in recently, who found herself with a larger-than-expected excess bill after a trip to the US. Having been required to pay multiple excesses on her claim, she wonders: “Is this usual?” 

The answer is yes, according to Natalie Ball, director of “Where an excess applies, it is usually payable per event, it’s not a once-off payment,” she explains. 

“So, if a hospital stay required follow-up appointments, you wouldn’t be required to pay the excess again, as it’s considered the same event. However, a customer who claimed for a delayed flight one week and an unrelated medical issue the next would have to pay the excess for each event, as they would be considered separate events.”

As Ms Ball points out, excesses vary according to your particular policy: “You will often have a choice of excess levels — either $0, $100 or $200.”

So if you’re concerned about getting stung by multiple excesses, shop around for a policy that has no excess or allows you to reduce it to zero.

“Travellers should do their research if looking for different options as there are plenty of choices in the market,” Ms Ball says. 

“Some insurers like Zoom Travel Insurance allow customers to decrease their excess, others like 1Cover and American Express allow nil excess for an increase in the premium.”

Ms Ball also warned that older travellers should watch out for “significantly higher excesses, typically over the age of 80 where a $2000 excess for medical claims can apply”.

“Our advice to our customers is to always shop around and compare policies to get the right travel insurance for your circumstances,” she adds. “Check product disclosure statements carefully so you know exactly what you’d be covered for and to what extent.”