Misleaded by travel insurance…what next!

The one thing that has been drilled in to us, mainly by insurance companies… is the fear that potentially something terrible could happen whilst were on that one and only travelling trip. Travel Insurance is one of those purchases that we don’t often scrimp on out of due to this fear. Let’s take a look…You could:

  • Lose your luggage
  • Miss your flight
  • Require medical assistance
  • Have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances, and the list goes on...

Over the past couple of years, it has begun to come to light that select travel insurance providers in Australia have been potentially misleading and mis-selling travel insurance to their customers due to keeping deceptive and incorrect information on their public websites even after the issue was brought to their attention. Along with incorrectly calculated premiums, policies made available worldwide despite exclusions from certain countries, and sales of policies made to customers who would not be eligible to claim; these are just some of the underhanded tactics that have been used to sell misleading travel insurance in Australia.

Integrated Travel Insurance

Integrated Travel Insurance (also known as Comprehensive Travel Insurance), is an umbrella term for a type of travel insurance that covers you for an arrangement of “what ifs” whilst you’re away, such as:

  • The aforementioned possibilities above (loss of luggage missed or cancelled flights and medical assistance)
  • Your personal items get stolen or damaged
  • Alternative travel expenses due to travel delays, among other instances

It is the highest level of travel insurance that you can buy, generally entitles the customer to the maximum benefit amounts when it comes to claiming and is often referred to as an “all in one” type of insurance.

Misleading Travel Insurance

It has been brought to ASICS attention that Australian Travel Insurance providers have been consistently selling misleading travel insurance to customers with full knowledge that they were doing so. The misleading conduct that they facilitated and participated in resulted in alleged breaches of the Corporations Act and the ASIC Act relating to misleading and deceptive conduct and general financial services license obligations. These breaches included:

  • Failing to correctly disclose the basis upon which premiums were calculated in the product disclosure statements that were made available on the websites:
  • Allowing the sale of insurance to customers over the age of 61 years old who were ineligible to make claims under those policies;
  • Allowing the misuse of a quote from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the importance of purchasing cancellation-only travel insurance to indicate that the Smart Traveller Statement applied to travel insurance containing medical and hospital coverage

Travel Insurance Tips

Taking all of the above into account, there are some helpful Travel Insurance Tips that we can offer to assist with avoiding any kind of mis-sold or misleading travel insurance products:

  • Request a comprehensive list of insurance eligibility exclusions which could prevent you from being able to claim for the full arrangement of insurance products that you are paying for
  • Do some of your own travel research on reputable websites such as The Department of Foreign Affairs and Smart Traveller and compare information between them and your insurance providers that you are enquiring with
  • If you are granted an exemption from ASIC for the licencing requirements
  • Request an outline of the process taken to calculate insurance premiums and compare with what information they list on their websites

It makes no difference whether the business intended to mislead their customers or not. There are laws in place to protect customers from businesses making statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression of the price, value, or quality of any products or services. To ensure that you are being appropriately sold your travel insurance products, it is best to do your own research/enquiries and compare information with governing organisations (as mentioned above), request thorough documentation of all exclusions, inclusions, and your chosen policy, and keep copies of everything in writing.