The risky holiday Aussies are taking
Amid industry calls for travel insurance to become compulsory, new research has shown the dangers of insurance being voided due to risky behaviour.
As Schoolies enters its second week, new figures show that three in four school leavers will engage in "risky behaviour", such as drink-driving, that would void any travel insurance.
Another one in five will go to places such as Southeast Asia without any insurance at all, prompting serious warnings for young travellers - and their unsuspecting parents.
The research from Smartraveller and Understand Insurance has stunned holiday-makers, who can be forgiven for thinking that simply having insurance is enough - in fact, complying with conditions and meeting coverage criteria is critical to any claim being fulfilled.
Anna Lees, manager of Helloworld Mornington Cruise and Travel in Victoria, said the statistics were "scary" and encouraged parents to sit their children down to talk about the serious concerns of voiding insurance, or worse still, travelling without it.
"I wouldn't ever travel anywhere without it," she told Escape.
"I know when you are younger and more adventurous it's hard to think of the consequences, but I think when they are in a foreign country, they have to realise it's not the same as ending up in emergency in your local hospital.
"My old catchphrase growing up was - if you can't afford insurance, don't travel."
Anna said mandatory travel insurance bought with your ticket would be a beneficial industry development.
"You see all these stories about things that have happened and they are trying to raise funds to get back to Australia because they didn't have the adequate cover," she said. "Parents should be sitting their kids down and explaining how important it is.
"We are very pro insurance in here - it's part of the conversation from start to finish."
According to the 2018 SureSave Travel Insurance Index, some 73 per cent of travellers said they wouldn't leave the country without taking out travel insurance - a 10 per cent increase on six years ago.
Cover-More's Mike Stein said uninsured, injured travellers could drain a country of millions of dollars in medical expenses, often in countries where finances are scarce. Recently speaking to travel agents at the Revolution Roadshow in Sydney, he said it was the doctors, nurses and health staff who were affected when a traveller couldn't pay their bills, and said a solution was to make travel insurance compulsory.
Understand Insurance's Lisa Kable said overseas destinations like Bali attracted more than 10,000 teens last year - the same Indonesian island that is one of the top four destinations for Australian deaths overseas.
"Thousands of teenagers are on their way to popular destinations in Southeast Asia, including Bali and Thailand," Lisa said.
"Many will overindulge in alcohol. Some may take illicit drugs. And many will ride a motorbike or scooter or take part in an adventure sport or activity."
She said the insurance industry and the Australian Government's Smartraveller program were concerned about the number of young Aussies who will be injured overseas - without insurance - during this Schoolies break, which ends on December 8.
"They should understand they may not be covered by their insurance if they make a claim for an event caused by alcohol, drugs, use of a motorbike or failing to declare a pre-existing medical condition."
Another recent survey of 1000 Australian adults for InsureandGo, found that nearly half of Aussies admitted they took more risks while on Schoolies trips than on any other holiday.
Results revealed that drinking too much was the most common risk, while 22 per cent left a drink unguarded at a bar, 21 per cent took part in an adventurous activity or rode a vehicle after drinking, and 19 per cent of respondents went swimming after drinking heavily.
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