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Marine Travel Insurance: What’s all the fuss about?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Marine Travel Insurance: What’s all the fuss about?

We all know that talking about travel insurance isn’t the most enticing topic. Take it from someone who works in the industry – it frequently kills the conversation as soon as it’s brought up. However, as with most insurance products, travel insurance is often hugely undervalued until such time as it’s really needed, and as a result I believe it’s important to share the reasons why it is essential to have a suitable travel policy in place before you embark on a trip, whether that includes a boat or not.

Why should I buy travel insurance?

When you travel abroad or away from home, travel insurance provides you with financial protection and medical assistance to mitigate against a variety of unplanned events which would otherwise leave you significantly out of pocket or worse, in severe debt, and/or in a medical emergency without help.

One of arguably the two most important sections of a travel policy is Emergency Medical Expenses, which usually covers you up to 5 or AUD 10 million, and will pay your medical costs if you are accidentally injured or become ill whilst on a trip. In my career, I have had many customers ask me why this limit is so high, and the simple answer is that medical costs can be extortionate. For example, the average cost of an appendectomy in the US is AUD 42,000 (at current exchange rates), but this can rise to over AUD 200,000 in rare cases. More complicated procedures can cost significantly more, which is why arranging medical expenses cover via your travel policy is vital to avoid incurring those huge costs yourself.

The Cancellation Section is often viewed as the second key component of a travel policy, and will reimburse the costs you have already paid towards your trip (or the remainder of it) if you need to cancel or curtail. For example, if a close relative passed away and you needed to cancel your holiday or business trip, you would be able to reclaim the cost of your flights, hotels, car hire and other un-used bookings so that financially you are no worse off. Depending on the trip and how many people are going, these costs can escalate quickly into the thousands, so it’s important to make sure that you buy a travel policy with an adequate limit and as soon as you start booking flights or hotels.

Most travel policies will also have some combination of cover for Baggage, Legal Expenses & Personal Liability, Personal Accident, Money & Credit Cards and Hi-jack, as well as many others which have varying degrees of value depending upon your circumstances.

Traps to look out for when buying travel insurance

Travel insurance policies are complicated and there are many different products available, so it is important to understand exactly what you are covered for (which can be easier said than done) and not to just focus on the price.

A key pitfall to look out for is ensuring medical conditions are fully covered. Insurers usually apply a ‘pre-existing medical condition exclusion’ which means they won’t pay for claims arising out of any existing medical conditions you already have, unless you declare them and get them specifically included. You don’t need to declare medical conditions if you don’t want them to be covered, but if you do then make sure you declare these fully and honestly and you have written evidence they are included in the policy.

The variety of polices available means some only offer meagre covers and limits, so it is important to find the right policy for you and your circumstances. Some examples of things you may want to look out for include ensuring you are covered fully for any activities/sports you are doing on your trip; you are not outside the age limit; your destination is included in the covered area of travel; and that you can read and fully understand the policy yourself.

If you have any questions about the policy at all, you should ask the insurer or broker before you purchase.

What about if I’m sailing or on my motorboat?

People will often have travel insurance included as part of their bank account or credit card, but check carefully if you’re going on the water as most of these policies will have strict restrictions or limitations when boating, even if you’re just within a harbour, close to shore or chartering a boat.

Who are Topsail and what is Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance?

Topsail Insurance was launched in 1996 in the UK and since then has provided specialist Yacht, Motorboat and Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance to a worldwide marine community, backed by Lloyd’s of London Insurers. Topsail Australia opened in Perth in 2015 and was set up by Mark Ainscough and Cathy Charlick, who themselves are both ‘cruising yachties’ and enjoyed a 4 year sailing adventure around South East Asia prior to setting up the Company (more info).

Topsail’s Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance has been specifically designed to address the lack of suitable travel insurance for mariners, by imposing no restrictions or limitations whilst aboard yachts, motorboats or Tallship’s, and by including other benefits such as Yacht Charter Excess Waiver.

Full cover is also given for ‘non-marine’ trips that do not involve any sailing or boating, meaning that an Annual Multi-Trip Yachtsman’s policy can cover all your trips you take whether you are sailing/boating or not.

As well as offering this cover at a competitive price, Topsail’s Yachtsman’s policies also offer:

• Full worldwide, offshore cover
• Onshore racing cover as standard
• Search and Rescue, Yacht Charter Excess Waiver and Crew Replacement
• Annual multi-trip polices (as little as $150) or single trip policies (as little as $40)
• Ability to cover groups or families under one policy
• A straightforward, easy-to-read, 20 page Product Disclosure Statement
• Full cover for non-boating trips
• Ability to cover anyone up to 79 years old, or higher with referral
• Discounts if you also purchase boat insurance with Topsail
• A quick and simple online quotation tool, meaning you can find a price within minutes

To summarise, make sure you have adequate travel insurance and that it is suitable for your needs. You’d be surprised at the peace of mind it will give you.

Written by Philip Chandler, Topsail Insurance Pty Senior Travel Underwriter. Philip has six years’ experience as a Travel Underwriter in the Lloyd’s of London Insurance Market, and recently moved to Sydney. Topsail Insurance is the highest rated marine insurer on Deckee at the time of writing.

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