Australia travel insurance
Heading to Australia? Great! You'll love it. From the beaches of Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback, there is nothing like it. To get you started on your great adventure down under, here's some essential travel advice - and a quick introduction to our Australia travel insurance.
Whether you are going on a holiday of a lifetime with family, visiting friends on an extended stay or backpacking round the continent, we can offer you a choice of great value policies that will give you all the benefits and cover you'll need. We can cover families, groups or individuals and can also offer cover to people with medical conditions. We can even provide great value last minute cover if you have to take off at the drop of a bushman's hat.
You can choose the level of cover you go for depending on the way you like to travel. Our Backpacker and Longstay policies, for example, offer medical emergency cover from £1m to £5m depending on how much of a shoe string you are travelling on. So if you like the reassurance of gadget cover along with all the usual benefits - cancellation, loss of baggage, documents and money – then the Longstay Max policy will be right for you. However, if you can live without cover for travel delays and missed departures then our Longstay Lite policy will be your cheapest option – but without compromising on public liability, medical expenses and personal luggage.
"Excellent insurance company, easy to talk to, approachable"
"This insurance company is excellent. Unfortunately I had to make an unexpected claim last year. The staff were really helpful and made what was a horrific time very easy. They always suggest different things and also advised me to register for extra help in Australia which I was not aware of. They do not push you to have anything you do not need and you can amend your policy at any time."
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Your quick guide to travelling in Australia
Australian dollar (A$) (AUD)
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Staying safe: Vaccinations
You don't need any specific vaccinations to visit Australia, unless you are going to be working in rural agriculture. However, if within six days of visiting Australia you have stayed in a country where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission, you will need a yellow fever certificate. More information is available on the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
Entry requirements: A smooth smart
If you are a British national, you'll need a visa to enter Australia. There are two types you can go for: an eVisitor, which you apply for online (it's free) or an Electronic Travel Authority (you'll be charged a A$20 service fee). Both give you the freedom to visit Australia as much as you like for twelve months, staying for up to three months at a time.
Importantly, for some visa categories you will need to show that you have an onward or return air ticket before you can enter the country. Flights to Australia are pricey, so if something forces you to cancel your holiday, you may not be able to get your money back. With our Australia travel insurance you can get up to £5000 of cancellation cover to keep you financially secure.
Entry requirements: Senior traveller?
If you are over 75 years old and applying for a Visitor visa, you will need to undergo a medical examination called an Aged Visitors Health Check. It's just a routine check, but your medical must be completed by a doctor nominated by the Australian Government. You might need to pay for this.
Our Australia travel insurance covers travellers up to the age of 100. We insure thousands of medical conditions too.
Entry requirements: Customs can get complex
They're hot on customs laws in Australia. Your luggage will be x-rayed on arrival and if officials spot something they don't like the look of, it will be inspected and potentially destroyed. Don't worry, it's unlikely if you are carrying your standard holiday gear, but you will need to declare any sports equipment you're travelling with as well as food or goods that come from plant or animal origin – nuts, fruit, vegetables, tea, that sort of thing. You'll also need to inform officials if you have visited a rural area or been in contact with farm animals in the 30 days before you travel. You can declare anything necessary on the incoming passenger card you'll receive during your outward flight. After 20 hours of flying, you'll welcome the distraction!
You can check the list of banned items on the Australian Quarantine & Inspection website.
Entry requirements: Travelling with a medical condition?
Nothing should hold you back from a good holiday. That's why we're happy to insure thousands of medical conditions at a price that's fair. However, if you're taking prescription medication with you on holiday, take the paper prescription itself in case you have trouble at customs. A letter from your doctor outlining your condition and the medication you are taking for it may also help to smooth the way – just in case.
Healthcare: Medical costs
Unlike many countries outside the EU, there are reciprocal healthcare arrangements between Australia and the UK. That means it's possible for you to get free healthcare in Australia. However, this only applies to treatment that is medically necessary. In other words, if it's not urgent you'll have to pay. There are plenty of other exclusions too, including treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and the use of ambulances.
It all means that a good travel insurance policy is essential. Our policies offer up to £10 million medical cover and 24/7 access to an emergency medical assistance helpline. We also cover thousands of medical conditions so you shouldn't let it hold you back. We certainly won't.
Laws and customs: Identification
Losing your passport is no fun. Especially as replacing it can be both timely and costly. Happily, there's no need to carry it around with you in Australia. Proof of age cards are an accepted form of ID and are available for around $5 (about £3.50). Pick one up when you arrive from a local Roads & Traffic Authority office.
Staying safe: Sun safety
Australia has the highest per person rate of skin cancer in the world and UV is high all year round. So whatever you do, keep yourself coated with sunscreen. Apply at least SPF 30 around half an hour before you go outside (don't worry, you can still get a tan). And remember to drink plenty of water too. Tap water in Australia is perfectly safe.
Staying safe: Beware the mosquitos!
Mosquitoes, flies, sandflies and other critters are common in Australia. Stings and bites can cause a little itching and skin irritation, but most are just an annoyance. However, mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River Virus (RRV), Barmah Forest Virus (BFV) and Dengue Fever occur throughout the country. So it makes sense to take action to keep the mozzies at bay.
Invest in a decent insect repellent (those containing diethyl toluamide or picaridin work well), wear light-coloured clothing and avoid being outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. If you're camping, make sure insect screens are installed and use mosquito nets as necessary. You'll thank yourself for getting hold of a mosquito-proof tent.
Currency: Put it on the plastic
MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and most other major cards are accepted in Australia, which can be extremely handy if you're worried about carrying around a lot of cash. There are plenty of banks and ATMs in the cities too.
Laws and customs: Tipping
A holiday is no time to be frugal, but there's no point throwing money away either. Tipping is not commonplace in Australia. So unless you're on your own personal quest to improve international relations, there's no need to flash the cash.
Staying safe: Taking the plunge at sea
Currents and rips
Australia's coastline attracts tourists and locals like a magnet. But there's another force on the shoreline that's far more dangerous: currents or rips. These fast-moving tracts of water surging from the shore can occur any time, at any beach – sweeping even the strongest swimmer out to sea. They represent Australia's biggest surf hazard, with up to 89% of all rescues related to them. On average, there are more British victims than any other nationality.
Australia's most popular beaches are monitored by lifeguards. Their guidelines are simple: always swim between the red and yellow striped flags – which indicate a supervised location. If you do get into trouble, stay calm. In most cases, you will be able to escape a current by swimming perpendicular to it – that usually means swimming parallel to the shore. Otherwise, attract attention by calling and waving your arm above your head.
Tropical jellyfish are some of the most beautiful and otherworldly creatures on the planet. But some can cause life-threatening injuries if you get too close – and they love the waters off the shores of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Thankfully, there are simple steps to help avoid them. Always swim at patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags, and never enter the water when beaches are closed. A full-body Lycra suit can also provide surprisingly effective protection. And remember, jellyfish tentacles can still sting you long after the animal has washed up on the beach.
If you do get stung by a jellyfish, seek professional help, either from a lifeguard or a doctor. If it turns serious and you need further attention don't forget that 24/7 emergency medical assistance is available to all World First policyholders.
Shark attacks are extremely rare, but it goes without saying that you can never be too careful when it comes to minimising the risks. So, always swim between the red and yellow striped patrol flags (is that sounding familiar yet?) and surf at patrolled beaches. Also, avoid taking a dip at dusk or dawn, as this is when sharks are typically most active.
Staying safe: Dangerous animals
From the venomous and scary-looking to the downright terrifying, you won't need us to tell you that Australia has more than its fair share of dangerous wildlife. Bites from snakes and spiders are extremely rare, and rarely fatal, but it is important to be aware of a few safety precautions to cut your chances of an unwanted encounter.
If you see a snake, do not disturb it. Take another route. The same goes for spiders – funnel-web spiders are deadly and white-tail and red-back spiders can give you a very nasty bite. If you are bitten, seek immediate medical assistance.
Public transport in Australia's major cities is very good, but for a little more independence you may want to hire a car. The good news is that your UK driving licence is valid in Australia. And they drive on the left too! Carry both parts of your licence when driving as well as your passport.
Staying safe: The Outback
From Sydney to Queensland, Australia has some fantastic cities. But it's the wilderness of the Outback that lures many travellers here. However, it can be very dangerous. The terrain is difficult and the heat can exceed 50°C by day, before dropping to freezing at night. Worse, help can often be hours away if you encounter problems. It goes without saying that a plentiful stock of water is essential. And that dropping cigarette butts on the scorched, arid land is monumentally dangerous. The NSW Police Force website has some essential advice about bushwalking in the Blue Mountains – one of Australia's most popular hiking areas – but the rules apply to anywhere.
Transport: Driving in the Outback
If you're planning on driving in Australia's Outback areas, you really will need to do some research on staying safe. The Outback is extremely remote and it's essential that you leave your route details and expected time of return with someone – the local tourist authority or your hotel, for example.
Staying safe: Extreme weather
The changeable nature of the British weather has nothing on Australia's. Tropical cyclones, flash floods and dust storms are part and parcel of seasonal weather patterns. The cyclone season runs from November to April and typically affects Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Keep half an eye on local media reports to stay safe, following their advice as necessary.
With our Australia travel insurance, you'll be compensated if you experience travel delays and missed departures caused by inclement weather.
Electricity: Powering your holiday
Sometimes it's nice to escape technology on holiday. But if you're bringing a charger for your mobile phone or digital camera, the electricity voltage in Australia is 240 volts AC. You should be able to pick up a conversion kit in the UK before you leave.
Australia: Know Before You Go
For up to the minute travel news that doesn't make the headlines, check out the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's website. Their Know Before You Go site has information on all risks to all travellers in more than 255 countries and territories around the world.
See the latest information at Know Before You Go HERE.
Follow the FCO on twitter HERE.
Of course, if you have any questions about our Australia travel insurance, please call us on using the number at the top of this page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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