Is Travellers Insurance Important?

Listen to episode #12 of NAVIGATE to learn why people buy worldwide travel insurance and what to look for when buying your own.

Is Travellers Insurance Important?:

Peta Gilbert clip

0:00:00 – 0:00:16

I didn’t realise at the time that I’d had two punctured lungs and a few broken ribs and broken collarbones and lots of internal bruising. And then someone moved me, they came over to me and they moved to me because I think I was kind of stuck between the truck and the building.

Rodger Cook

0:00:21 – 0:01:18

Hello, and welcome to Navigate. I’m your host, Rodger Cook, and in this episode is one of our travel essential series. At the start of the episode you heard from Peta Gilbert, who shares her experiences of traveling through New Orleans. Throughout the season, we’ll continue to have one on one interviews with amazing people doing amazing things. We want to also explore that those things that people consider to be vital for when they start to travel.

On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about all things insurance. And we’ll hear more from Peta Gilbert as we go through today’s episode. So please sit back, listen, and learn from our industry experts and from our unique traveller’s story. There’ll be some listeners who buy travel insurance when they start to plan their trip and they start to buy tickets and accommodation. And there’ll be others who really do consider travel insurance almost as an afterthought. I was fortunate enough to be joined by Steven Webster from Cover-More who shared his experience and his understanding of who actually does buy insurance and why.

Steven Webster

0:01:18 – 0:03:01

If I’m going on a ski trip to Japan, and I want to protect my snowboard, or I want to make sure I’m covered, if my luggage is lost or stolen. Here we’re looking at functional and rational needs that tend to be the motivator for buying insurance. But if we go a little deeper, we tend to find that there’s an emotional need that’s the main driver for travel and that tends to motivate people to purchase insurance. So for example, that need maybe to stand out from the crowd, to enjoy a bespoke experience and to indulge. Now if this is you, you tend to buy insurance to feel self-assured and to feel in charge of the unforeseen. Or it may be the opposite of that. And it may be to connect with loved ones and to affiliate with others. Now, if this is you, you tend to buy insurance to feel a sense of togetherness, to know that you’re supported by your insurer, and that they’ll advocate for you and your family should something go wrong.

Or it could be entirely different. It could be that you’re seeking adventure and to chase thrills and excitement. Now, if this is you, you tend to purchase insurance to protect you from your own actions. Or it could be the exact opposite of that of adventure seeking, which is to I guess, recharge, to unwind, to be nurtured. If that’s you, you tend to buy insurance to seek protection from the actions of others, which is the opposite of adventure seeking. Now, we’re all wired very differently and whatever your reason for buying travel insurance, it general really comes back to an emotional need to feel peace of mind. And that need expresses itself in a number of ways.

Rodger Cook

0:03:01 – 0:3:04

Who doesn’t buy insurance, and what’s the main driver behind that?

Steven Webster

0:03:04 – 0:04:16

Yeah, under insurance and travel can be a costly mistake – choice put out some some really interesting research in recent years. And they’ve found that 75% of travellers were covered by travel insurance on their last international holiday. And perhaps unsurprisingly, older travellers are more likely to purchase insurance with about 91% of baby boomers and 96% of pre boomers buying insurance. But that number really falls and drops away down to 34% for Gen Z and 32% for via Gen Y and so there’s definitely a relationship between age and, and motivations to buy travel insurance. And there’s definitely a role for insurers to continue to simplify things like product disclosure statements, and to look at new means of communicating what it is and what is and what isn’t covered in policies. And there’s a role for insurers to design new products that reflect new needs and concerns and COVID-19 and the current environment is a good example of that. And that’s been a big focus for us at Cover-More more in developing COVID-19 benefits.

Rodger Cook

0:04:16 – 0:4:27

It’s so ironic that the people who probably take the most risks, you know, the the younger generation are not insuring themselves against those risks, and how do we reach those people? How do we change that mindset?

Steven Webster

0:04:27 – 0:05:06

Yeah, I think it comes down to new means of communicating and reaching out to that audience and also simplification as well. We need to be better at communicating the benefits of travel insurance and do it in mediums and channels that’re better reflective of a younger demographic. So things like finding product disclosure information via video, and other online needs as a way to cut through and make it simpler for a younger demographic to understand is definitely something that insurers need to look at.

Rodger Cook

0:05:06 – 0:05:46

That was Steven Webster, the senior marketing manager from Cover-More insurance talking about who buys insurance and who doesn’t buy insurance and how he accesses those people who are underinsured.

As a 21 year old on her first overseas adventure, Peta Gilbert had planned to spend some time in London, working and saving before exploring the rest of Europe. After meeting some Americans in London, she was invited instead to Vermont, to experience a white Christmas. In her first time, the snow coincide with the worst blizzard and cold snap that part of the world had experienced in seven years. So in search of a warm climate, Peta jumped on a train to New Orleans, a city she quickly fell in love with. If it wasn’t for an ill-fated tour experience, she would probably still be there.

Peta Gilbert

0:05:46 – 0:06:41

We booked a tour to head to the cemeteries, what had happened was a car ran a stop sign and hit a pickup truck and then that pickup truck ran into the tour group. So this was in the French Quarter and in the French Quarter you can’t – you have the road and you have a bit of a footpath and you have a house or a building like there’s nowhere for the there was nowhere for the pickup really to go except up onto the curb. So I I know I’m originally would have had my back to it. So I must have heard it jumped the curb because it hit me in the chest. I didn’t lose consciousness. But I do remember seeing my dorm key for the room while staying at the backpackers on the ground. And I’m like picking it up thinking I don’t want to lose that cause I’ll lose my $5 deposit my door. And you know when you’re a backpacker I was like five bucks, you know?

Rodger Cook

0:06:41 – 0:06:43

Yeah five bucks is five bucks.

Peta Gilbert

0:06:43 – 0:08:25

Yeah, and I because I had that on a piece of string around my neck. So I pick up the dorm key. And I think when I catch my breath, I’ll walk home. But I didn’t realize at the time that I had two punctured lungs and a few broken ribs broke my collarbones and lots of internal bruising. And then someone moved me, they came over to me and they moved to me because I think I was kind of stuck between the truck and the building. I don’t really remember, I didn’t realize at the time I couldn’t turn my head and I couldn’t see anybody or anything. And I remember just starting to get a bit panicked, like, ‘What the hell’s going on.’ And that’s when the ambos arrived, they asked me, you know, my name my age quite a few times.

And, again, being a backpacker. I’m like, because I had my day pack with me, and it’s got your passport and all your valuable things. Like I remember just before Christmas being sent some jewelry from home, but it’s just something small and a ring and I was really sort of treasuring that. So I had that in my day pack. And I remember asking them, you know, have you’ve got my day pack, and they’re like, yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve got your bag, we’ve got your bag, and it’s just the stuff you think of when you’re traveling you keep your valuables with you and it’s just kind of ingrained into you before you go and there was two photos in the paper. The one was the front page and it was me on the stretcher being loaded into the back of the ambulance. And then the second photo was everything was sort of gone. But my little bag was just sitting there on the footpath. I had a bit of a chuckle about that thinking well someone’s you know, scored a bag of stuff.

Rodger Cook

0:08:25 – 0:08:27

A backpacker’s leftovers – prize backpacker’s –

Peta Gilbert

0:08:27 – 0:09:54


Yeah, I was in hospital for a couple of weeks and then because my lungs were punctured I had to stay in a hotel for another week just to make sure that they were okay I had really really awesome people looking after me throughout and yeah, and I had to get a new passport obviously. Because I lost my passport. I had to get a new passport photo and everything to get home and my insurance flew my mom over okay it took her about a week to get there are so happy to see her and even the nursing staff and stuff is saying you know who’s coming over to look after you and I remember saying to one nurse oh my mom will be here soon and she’s like, oh, okay, then I’ll be your mama until your mama get here and like there was a big sort of fuss about who was going to come over and help me out.

Yeah, so that was awesome to have someone be able to come over who could take care of things for me because obviously I wasn’t in any state to and I was so grateful to have someone there that I knew on the flight home. Yeah, cuz that was pretty arduous to get back and we had to go from New Orleans to LA and then LA to Sydney and Sydney to Brisbane. So to do all of that with multiple broken bones and worrying about my shoulders and everything all braced up in a brace and luggage and stuff. It was great to have somebody there. So while I thought I was gonna settle in New Orleans, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Rodger Cook

0:09:55 – 0:10:10

When you get picked up by the ambulance and you arrive at the hospital, you know you hear all these horror stories about the American healthcare system and you know how expensive it is. At what point does somebody ask you “How are you going to pay for all this?”

Peta Gilbert

0:10:11 – 0:11:05

That was pretty early on, I was in a fortunate position in that I bought some insurance in Australia. And I thought it was just for the UK and Europe. And then when I left London, even though I knew I was only gonna stay for a few weeks, I actually bought extra insurance for the US.

And a part of me was actually because of the medical costs, I was in the back of my mind, because I remember a story, the lady that I was going to visit her mom had fallen and broken a few ribs. And I remember saying, you know, is she alright, what did the doctor say? And I remember her saying, Well, you know, she didn’t go to the doctor, there’s nothing they could do anyway. And she didn’t want to have to pay to go to the doctor. And I remember being quite shocked by that at the time. And I thought, well, I’d hate to fall over or something and not be able to afford to go and see a doctor if I – little did I know.

Rodger Cook

0:11:05 – 0:11:13

So you had two insurance policies, and you’re lucky enough to have some legal support through friends. And they reviewed both those policies for you to determine which one to use.

Peta Gilbert

0:11:13 – 0:11:29

They said that the one that I got in Australia was actually the better one. And it was the one that flew my mom over and it covered more options for me, because there are lots of things to navigate in the US system about what your insurance will and will not cover. And there’s no way I could have done that.

Rodger Cook

0:11:29 – 0:11:37

Do you think that if you didn’t have that insurance, and that level of the ability to pay that your care would have been different?

Peta Gilbert

0:11:37 – 0:12:30

Um, I don’t think the people who were looking after me would have treated me any differently. But I think their hands would have been tied in certain things they probably could have done. Yeah. And I don’t know if it would have meant I would have been moved to a different hospital sooner or what I don’t – I couldn’t really say I know, on an individual level, the people I dealt with were brilliant. But yeah, I would hate to think that their hands would have been tied in a certain way because I wasn’t insured.

But I do remember them talking to me about different sort of figures of money, it would have cost me without it and being quite taken aback. And you know, just little things like oh, we need to move you by an ambulance. This is how much it’s going to cost and sort of being quite shocked. Well, I don’t know where I would have got that money otherwise.

Rodger Cook

0:12:30 – 0:12:34

Did you have any real idea of what the overall cost was?

Peta Gilbert

0:12:34 – 0:12:42

Because of the punctured lungs and everything in emergency and ICU it was coming close to 300,000. Yeah, just for that part of it.

Rodger Cook

0:12:42 – 0:12:50

So you bought travel insurance back in Australia before you set off on your adventure. Were you fully aware of what that insurance covered?

Peta Gilbert

0:12:50 – 0:13:19

No, not at all, obviously, because it covered the US and I didn’t even really realize. It was in smaller print. I was like, I just want insurance. Like if I lose my camera, or I get stuck somewhere or you know, if I did need medical care, it was more like I was going to have this big exotic adventure off the beaten track after I earnt a bit of money in the UK. So just more like I felt like I wanted to have bases covered and not worry.

Rodger Cook

0:13:19 – 0:13:26

As a 21 year old has never been overseas before – what drives someone to get insurance in the first place?

Peta Gilbert

0:13:26 – 0:14:28

I don’t recall being prompted to get it – I do remember asking if they had recommendations or what sort of insurance did they think is a good insurance. I think it’s just something when you and this is the days before Google so you’re reading all the travel books. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it was those travel guides saying just cover yourself and and then you can relax on your holiday and I think that’s what it was for me. It was peace of mind and just really enjoy it because you might not get that chance again. You never know what’s around the corner.

Like I’ll never forget ringing my friend from Castlemaine and saying this is it. I’m never coming home – love this place. And literally within 24 hours, my life had completely changed. There’s no way I could have stayed on on my own. But I had no choice but to come home. And that’s probably been the biggest takeaway for me is that literally life can change on the turn of a dime, as they say.

Rodger Cook

0:14:28 – 0:14:54

That was Peta Gilbert sharing with us her story of traveling through New Orleans and the aftermath of a vehicle accident and the impact that insurance had on her life. Had she not purchased travel insurance, it’s likely that the medical costs would have continued to impact her life long after the injuries had healed. And for the final word I asked Steven Webster from Cover-More Insurance what should travellers be aware of today when purchasing travel insurance?

Steven Webster

0:14:54 – 0:16:45

Travellers should check whether their choice insurer offers COVID-19 benefits and most importantly, what’s included in that cover. So for example, at Cover-More our cover or our benefits rather include situations where if you or your travel companion diagnosed with COVID-19, and you cannot start your trip, there is a benefit covering that scenario, or if the person you’re planning on staying with overseas has had to go into quarantine and you need to find new accommodation, that’s also covered. And also we provide cover for your overseas medical costs if you’re diagnosed. These are just a few of the COVID-19 benefits that we offer amongst a range of others.

But aside from COVID-19 cover, there’s a number of other important considerations to include: purchasing insurance at the time of booking flights and accommodation and other activities is a big one. Now we all know that things can happen before you even depart unavoidable things that mean you might need to amend or even cancel your trip. So if your policy’s in place you’re covered for those cancellation costs, it’s incredibly important to buy your policy at the time of incurring other costs such as flights, accommodation, etc. Another big one is adventure sports or or activities is another consideration. If you plan on enjoying snowboarding or skydiving trekking, etc. Check that your policy covers you for those sorts of activities. Sometimes the base policy doesn’t cover you for activities or sports like this, but it is sometimes possible to purchase an add-on to ensure that you are covered.

And the final one is to make sure you declare any pre existing medical conditions at the time of getting your quote. It’s always advisable to do this so your insurer can help you choose a policy that’s that’s right for you and reflects your needs.

Rodger Cook

0:16:49 – 0:16:59

That’s it for today’s episode of Navigate. I’d like to thank my guests for joining me and you’ll be able to listen to their full interviews on our web page. Please click, like and subscribe and we look forward to speaking to you again.

In the first episode of Season 2, host Rodger Cook covers worldwide travel insurance. He starts off asking questions around who buys insurance and why before diving into what you should be looking for in your coverage with Cover-More Travel Insurance’s Steven Webster.

We also hear the cautionary tale of Peta Gilbert and her experience travelling to New Orleans. A classic ‘wrong place, wrong time’ situation activated her Cover-More travel health insurance. Without it, she would have had to manage a foreign medical system and international travel on her own whilst recovering from serious injury.


To hear the full interviews from this episode, listen below:

  • Travellers Insurance with Cover-More Travel Insurance Steve Webster


  • Peta Gilbert’s experience with travel health insurance in New Orleans

Subscribe to the NAVIGATE travel podcast

Enjoyed listening to this episode on travel health insurance? Never miss out on an episode of NAVIGATE, the travel podcast from World Travel Protection, by hitting ‘follow’ or ‘subscribe’ on your preferred podcast platform.

Travel smarter: listen to our top travel podcast episodes

A group of young people. Panorama.

European Summer Travel Surge

Do you have a summer trip booked? Whether it’s for business or leisure, here are the top scams and disruptors you should prepare for.
Data protection privacy concept. GDPR. Cyber security network. Man protecting data and personal information on computer with digital padlock, internet technology networking

Protecting Against Corporate Espionage

Could you spot a corporate espionage threat in real life? Discover how to protect your business and travellers from the growing threat in this episode with intelligence expert Paul Trotter.
Communication technology for internet business. Global world net

Behind the Scenes: Provider Networks

If you got sick overseas, would you google the closest hospital? Travel Assistance providers do more than that – with the help of their vetted provider network – to ensure safe and efficient care.

Helping you navigate travel beyond our travel podcast

Is NAVIGATE one of your top travel podcasts for travel tips and inspiration? Our team at World Travel Protection can also help you – or the travellers you’re responsible for – stay safe and informed pre-, during and post-travel.

To learn more about our expert team of travel, medical and security risk professionals and the Travel Risk Management Tools they use to keep travellers safe 24/7, contact us today via the form below.

Australia Command Center