What to Look for When You Choose Travel Insurance for New Zealand
Probably the least fun aspect of backpacking or doing a working holiday in New Zealand is choosing travel insurance. For those on a working holiday visa, travel insurance is mandatory as part of the conditions of your visa. To make the process of choosing a travel insurance policy we have put together a guide on how to choose travel insurance for New Zealand. These are the things you need to look out for when choosing travel insurance for New Zealand.
Choosing travel insurance for New Zealand is not as easy as simply picking the cheapest policy. Travel insurance policies cover a wide range of coverage with different amounts that the insurance company is expected to pay when things go wrong, as well as what you will have to pay for yourself. If you are going to spend a significant amount of money on travel insurance for New Zealand, you will want a travel insurance policy that will help you when you need it the most.
What is Typically Covered in a Travel Insurance Policy for New Zealand?
Travel insurance for New Zealand is meant to help you in an array of sticky situations. Most comprehensive travel insurance policies for New Zealand should include:
- Medical and hospital expenses
- Cancellation cover (if you need to cancel flights, accommodation, etc. due to unforeseen circumstances)
- Luggage and personal items
- Travel delay expenses
- Family emergency (covers the expenses of travelling home in case of a family member getting seriously ill, injured or dies)
- Personal liability (protects you from being legally liable for injuring other people or property).
Find Out Where Travel Insurance Companies are Based
First thing’s first, where are the travel insurance companies that you are comparing based? Having a travel insurance company based in New Zealand is likely to be a lot more helpful in desperate situations than back in your home country. If an insurance company is based in New Zealand, you know they are more specialised in dealing with emergencies that may occur in New Zealand, as well as the customs when it comes to medical situations.
Then again, if you have been using an insurance company from your home country for a long time and they have provided excellent service in the past, then you may feel safer going with what you know. But, for most backpackers and working holidaymakers in New Zealand, dealing with insurance companies for a long-term trip is often a new experience, so picking a company based in New Zealand is a great place to start.
Compare the Excess Costs
Excess is the amount of money you will have to contribute toward the cost of an insurance claim. For example, if your hospital bill is NZ$5,000 and you have an excess of NZ$1,000 then you will have to pay NZ$1,000 for your hospital bill and the insurance company will pay NZ$4,000. The amount of excess you have to pay can range widely between insurance policies. Generally, the cheaper the policy, the more excess you would have to pay. When choosing travel insurance for New Zealand, you need to be comfortable with the excess you might have to pay. If you can’t afford the excess, then there is no point in choosing that travel insurance policy.
Note: accidents in New Zealand are often covered by New Zealand’s universal cover, the ACC. To find out more, check out What is ACC and Employee Accident Cover?
What Do the Policies Exclude?
Some things that you think are covered might not be or there may be some conditions which can mean an item is not covered. Check what things are not covered in an insurance policy. Most commonly, extreme activities and sports are not covered by insurance companies, or come at an extra cost, because they have a higher element of risk associated with them. Considering New Zealand is a country of adventure and adrenaline activities, this may be something you want to look into.
Power tip: If you have possessions that you want covering, such as a cell phone or laptop, add this onto your travel insurance. This almost always ends up being cheaper than buying standalone insurance for these items.
What Options are there for Pre-existing Conditions?
It’s likely that if you have a pre-existing condition is when you need travel insurance the most. However, many travel insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Check out how they define a “pre-existing condition” to see if it applies to you.
If you do have a pre-existing condition, to be covered is likely to come at an extra cost. However, you will still be covered for any illnesses and injuries not related to your pre-existing condition.
It’s also worth mentioning that some insurance policies exclude certain disease, situations or medical procedures, so check this out too to see if it is likely to apply to you.
Compare How Travel Insurance Companies Handle Claims
Before you buy travel insurance, it’s a good idea to understand how you would make a claim if you needed to. Remember, you are likely to need the help of your insurance company in a stressful situation, so having an easy insurance claim process is critical. You need to be able to contact your insurance company 24/7 in multiple ways, just in case you have no Internet connection, (which can definitely happen in New Zealand).
Read reviews of anyone who has had to make a claim with your chosen insurance companies before to see how their experience was.
How Long Does Your Insurance Policy Cover You For?
If you are a backpackers or working holidaymaker, then you will need to find an insurance policy that will cover you for the duration of your time in New Zealand. You may also want to be covered during transit i.e. when you travel to and from New Zealand including your stopover countries.
For most travellers on working holiday or student visas, they buy a one-way ticket to New Zealand and don’t know when they are coming back. On one hand, you want to be covered for the whole time you are in New Zealand. On the other, forking out money for an entire year of cover when you don’t need it is painful. A way around this is to check if you are able to extend your policy with your insurance provider if you need to. That way you can pay for six months, for example, then extend another six months if you need to.
Check the Underwriting Company
If you want to be super safe, then check who is the company that has provided the underwriter services to the travel insurance company and if they are licensed. The insurance underwriters decide how much coverage a client should get, for example.
Many travel insurance companies use the same underwriters so that’s why many policies are so similar in the amount of excess and cover they will give you. Try comparing travel insurance companies with different underwriters to see more of a difference in cover options and prices.
Get Started with Buying Travel Insurance for New Zealand
Of course, we would always advise that you compare the market before buying travel insurance. Nevertheless, we believe that going with a New Zealand based insurer is your best bet, they know the market better and are able to help faster when in need. A good place to start is Orbit Protect, which is affordable and specialises in more long-term travel in New Zealand, such as working holidays, backpacking trips and even international students.
We also recommend you have a look at our other articles for more advice on choosing travel insurance for New Zealand: