New data reveals spike in number of travel insurance claims made by Australian overseas travellers

The suitcase lost by the airport staff lies on the floor. Concept of lost luggage.

Research commissioned by Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has revealed that Australians’ travel plans were heavily disrupted as we emerged from the pandemic, with three in four (74 per cent) Australians who travelled overseas last year experiencing an issue with their travel or travel plans.

The most common issues experienced during international travel were an illness other than COVID-19 (43 per cent), followed by airline-related issues such as lost luggage, flight delays or cancellations (38 per cent), followed by COVID-19-related travel disruption (36 per cent).

There’s been a lot of media coverage about lost luggage, and the data indicates the increase in lost luggage incidents isn’t just a perception.

“We’ve definitely experienced a lot of claims relating to lost or damaged luggage last year due to travel disruptions, as a result of some of the operational challenges that airlines were facing.

“The costs associated with booking a holiday are becoming increasingly expensive and we have seen that reflected in an increase in average claims costs. As a result, we’re not seeing a significant difference in claim costs between domestic and international travel at the moment. In fact, the average cost of domestic claims in 2022 was 24 per cent more expensive than the average claims cost for international trips in 2022.”

“With the cost of travel not showing any signs of reducing, it’s just not worth taking the risk and travelling without insurance either domestically or internationally.” Jo McCauley, CEO at Southern Cross Travel Insurance told Travel Weekly Australia.

Many Australians also made claims through Southern Cross Travel Insurance last year due to travel disruptions, with the average claim cost for domestic travel ($1,584) 24 per cent more expensive than the average claim cost for international travel ($1,281).

Key findings from the research have been included below:

  • 74 per cent of Australians who travelled overseas last year reported experiencing an issue with their travel or travel plans.
  • 58 per cent of Australians that travelled interstate reported experiencing an issue with their travel or travel plans.

International issues most commonly experienced were:

  • 43 per cent – travel disruption caused by an illness other than COVID-19
  • 38 per cent – airline related issues such as lost luggage, flight delays or cancellations
  • 36 per cent – COVID-19-related travel disruption

Domestic issues most commonly experienced were:

  • 36 per cent – airline related such as lost luggage, flight delays or cancellations
  • 24 per cent – travel disruption caused by an illness other than COVID-19
  • 22 per cent – COVID-19-related travel disruption

In 2022, domestic travel claims were on average 24 per cent more expensive than the cost of international travel claims

While nearly half of the claims related to COVID-19, travellers are seeing as less of an issue.

“There definitely appears to be less anxiety now among travellers about Covid-19. We’re observing a drop in traveller apprehension based on our conversations with customers compared to last year,” McCauley said.

All of SCTI’s products still include a level of Covid-19 cover.

“Interestingly, our research shows that for consumers purchasing travel insurance, the importance of COVID-19 cover has decreased, (along with price) since March 2022, with more of a focus on product range, previous experience, and customer reviews.”

SCTI paid out over $1.4 million in Covid-19 claims since December 2021 when Australia’s borders opened, which made up 20% of claims up to the end of 2022.

McCauley says there isn’t much that travellers can do to avoid being impacted by travel disruptions prior to departure, other than taking out travel insurance to ensure they’re covered for the unexpected.

“If your luggage has been lost, delayed or damaged, your first port of call should always be the baggage services counters at the airport. File a claim at the desk, where an attendant will issue you with a case reference number and take down your contact information, so they can get in touch when it (hopefully) arrives.”

“Ask about your airline’s policy while filing your baggage claim and what you’re eligible to receive. Some will provide monetary compensation if your luggage isn’t returned to you after 24 hours, others will provide you with essential items over the counter, others will offer a daily cash reimbursement and some airlines even offer a boost of frequent flyer miles for your trouble,” she said.

“In a worst-case scenario where your airline is unable to help in retrieving your bags, check if there is cover for baggage and personal items under your travel insurance policy. SCTI provides help to buy personal items of clothing and essentials if your bags are delayed, misplaced or misdirected for 12 hours or more whilst you are on your journey.”

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