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Choosing the right travel insurance

Travel insurance is one of the most important things to do before you go. Ok, and not forgetting your passport and wallet.

Even if you’re travelling domestically, it pays to take out cover, as you’ll see from some of the examples below.

I’ve also listed some companies I recommend for travel insurance at the end of the post. You can get a free quote from them and look at what they cover you for.

*This post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase I will earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Scooter and travel insurance cover

Over the last couple of years, we were all looking for Covid-19 travel insurance cover. We wanted to make sure we’d be covered if cities were put into lockdown and our travel plans were disrupted.

That type of cover is no longer available. Lockdowns are now considered the same way as “acts of God”, like floods and volcanoes. However you will still find companies who will cover you personally if you or your family members contract Covid 19 and your plans are disrupted, just not a generalised city-wide lockdown.

But Coronavirus aside, there are thousands (of dollars) more reasons why taking travel insurance is essential (and a requirement on my hosted tours too!)

I read a heart breaking story about a young Australian guy who was on his buck’s weekend in Bali with mates before he was to get married the next weekend. He had a motorbike accident and his travel insurance did not cover him.

Yes, he did have travel insurance, he was also wearing a helmet, but he was not covered for the emergency surgery that his friends had to rustle up $32,000 for on the spot as his brain was bleeding. It turned out he didn’t have an international motorbike license. Whaaaat?!

Fast motorbike
Not covered!

Make sure you check the details of what your policy covers you for, and more importantly, what you’re NOT covered for.

Are you going on a cruise?

I didn’t realise for a couple of years that I wasn’t actually covered for the cruises I was on!

Pre-Covid days I just kept renewing my annual travel insurance policy without double checking the small print (the dreaded Ts and Cs) and it turns out I had NOT been covered for cruising for at least a couple of years!

Cruising in Cuba
On my uninsured cruise to Cuba

Lesson: make sure you check the Cruise Cover box if you’re taking a cruise as part of your holiday.

And here’s another lesson: I would also not have been covered if I was riding any motorcycle over 50cc without having a motorcycle license here in New Zealand (or my native country). I also need to be riding legally in the country I was in (e.g. if helmets are required, or a local license is also required, as it is in Rarotonga, etc).

That includes Uber motorbikes, which I did in Bangkok last year. Gulp!

What about bungee jumping, sky diving, hot air ballooning, Scuba diving? What if I injure myself and I’m drunk? Does my insurance cover me?

Good questions and that is why you’re reading this!

That’s me standing above the Fly!

The best thing to do is go straight to the fine print, the policy wording. The back page, if you have an old school paper policy, or the FAQs online. Check what the exclusions are on the policy you have.

I was relieved to see hot air ballooning was covered too, as I did in the Hunter Valley. And so is bungee jumping and sky diving. Even heli-skiing – but only if you have bought the “winter sports add-on”.

See, that’s why it pays to check.

Megan on tour in China
My 2019 tour group in China

Oh and if you are relying on your bank’s credit card insurance policy, make sure you check out their exclusions too. Look for pre-existing conditions that you might need to notify them of (since you don’t have to apply for the insurance with every trip, it’s easy to forget the illness you had last year).

Also make sure you have met the threshold of the percentage of your trip that must be paid on said credit card to qualify for insurance cover.

Since I wrote this post I was contacted by who have a ton of in-depth advice and also recommend some travel insurance providers, so click on their link if you want to read more.

Megans tour in Queenstown
My tour group in Queenstown!

Why take out domestic travel insurance?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re only travelling in your own country, so in the case of NZers, Aussies, Brits and everywhere that hospital is free, you needn’t bother.

BUT just think of the cost of your holiday: accommodation, flights, car rental, tickets to events that you might have bought?

All this adds up to possibly thousands of dollars. I ran a quick free quote check on the insurance sites listed below, and for about $35-$50, I could be covered for a week within New Zealand.

I have just taken out two annual policies too, one for my husband and one for me. I chose 1 Cover for mine and added the extra cruising option. It came to over NZ$1000.

For hubby I used AA Travel Insurance and checked the “Cruise Worldwide” cover. It then confusingly looks like you need to add countries you’ll be visiting without cruises for the year, but upon emailing them, I do not. His cover was about NZ$700 with his AA membership discount of $78.

Check out these Insurance companies:

Australian and New Zealand travellers try

1 Cover


AA Travel Insurance

Rest of World try World Nomads


Make sure you add on any extras that you plan on doing on your hols, like a cruise, skiing, itemise valuables. The worst thing would be to have to make a claim and find you’re not covered for a few extra bucks you could have paid.

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Friday 18th of February 2022

Thanks for the advice Megan, here and on the radio. Now that travel to Australia is starting to become easier again, have you found any companies that cover for travel disruption if you get a positive pre-departure test that stops you flying? AA Travel insurance cover looked helpful, but when phoning them I learned that it's vital to check the website, as if this advises against travel to a country at the time of purchase of your policy you won't be covered. The only place currently 'safe' is Cook Islands. Are there any companies you know of that would cover you when there is a 'Do not travel' advisory warning in place for your destination. Fingers crossed this changes before we travel.

Megan Singleton

Friday 18th of February 2022

Yes, this is an oversight I fear many people will make as AA Travel also covers for Australia domestic travel, but that is not, of course, people from outside of Australia. I believe you can get cover if you GET Covid, but not for general disruption. I'll keep my eye on it and report back here!

Sandra Haycock

Sunday 15th of September 2019

Thanks for that Megan. I will be checking with my insurance tomorrow. And thanks for the air ticket copy, Cheers Sandra

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!