When holidaying around New Zealand travel insurance is probably the last thing many Kiwis think about. Travelling in their home country where accidents are covered by ACC and health and contents insurance covers everything else, they’re covered for any event… or are they?

Here at MoaTours we've been running our small group tours since 1971 and over the years unfortunately we have seen people get caught out so we have written this simple guide to domestic travel insurance for New Zealanders.

What happens if I have to cancel my trip?

Sometimes our travel plans are interrupted for various reasons, such as personal or family illness, or something unforeseen crops up making travelling on a booked departure date impossible.  This can leave travellers out of pocket as it’s common practice for tour companies, airlines or hotels to require non-refundable payment in advance to confirm a reservation.

Like us at MoaTours, most tour companies nowadays require a non-refundable deposit to secure your booking and full payment of your fare is usually due 60 to 90 days prior to travel commencing. If you choose not to take out insurance and have to cancel your holiday, the deposit or even full fare could be lost. 

See the booking terms and cancellation policy for our small group tours here.

No-one likes to charge cancellation fees for a trip that has to be cancelled, but businesses need to do this as they have wages and other costs which still need to be paid. If you have to cancel your travel at some point you may think that it's mean of the business to charge you a fee, especially if it's for something health related, but a reputable company will make their cancellation policy clear to you at the time of booking. When you make you're booking you are entering into a contract and you agree to these terms. In order to protect yourself from the loss of deposits or payments made in advance all travellers on group tours should have travel insurance.

Probably the biggest single reason to have domestic travel insurance is to cover yourself for cancellation and we strongly recommend insurance to all our guests.

What happens if I need medical assistance on holiday?

All citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand have free access to our public health system, meaning emergency care required anywhere within New Zealand will be freely available. This is a great relief to us all and what we pay our taxes for. 

We also have ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), which is a government insurance scheme covering New Zealanders and overseas visitors for any medical costs incurred as a result of an accident. This can include rehabilitation required to recover from minor accidents like trips or falls too, so another level of peace of mind for New Zealanders. As long as the accident occurred in New Zealand you are covered.

But there are some instances where you may incur costs which are not covered by ACC or our public health system, things like changes to travel arrangements, medical supplies or support personnel.

Take the example of a pre-existing medical condition, something that is being managed and doesn't get in the way of your day to day life. Let's use the example of high-blood pressure, a pre-exisiting condition which would not be covered by ACC. If you're travelling and for whatever reason your condition got worse so to be safe your guide took you to the local hospital in the town where you are staying and the doctors recommended you don't continue your trip but stay where you are for a few days and then return home. 

In this instance you would need to organize additional accommodation, meals and an alternative flight home and perhaps even a travel companion. If you're on a tour like one of ours, our team would help you with all this organization but unfortunately we would not cover these costs but a domestic travel insurance policy would.

Domestic travel insurance can cover you for any associated costs incurred if your travel plans were disrupted due to a pre-existing condition.

MoaTours Kiwi Guide and guest at the Cape Reinga lighthouse

What if I needed emergency dental care while on holiday?

While we have a comprehensive free public health system here in New Zealand this does not extend to dental care. Compare the cost of visiting your GP and dentist, the GP is much cheaper as all visits are subsidised whereas dental care is not.

So if you needed emergency dental care while on holiday due to chipping a tooth or perhaps the onset of toothache as well as the potential cost of rearranging travel arrangements as in the example above but also the cost of the dental treatment itself.

Many people’s personal health insurance policies don’t cover dental work, and while ACC may be able to help towards dental costs due to accidents, they wouldn’t be paying for related expenses such as cancellation or amendment of travel.  A comprehensive domestic travel insurance plan with Cover-More takes care of emergency dental treatment up to $1500.00 and related additional expenses. 

What about luggage and personal property?

Many people have contents insurance, so theft or loss of belongings they’re travelling with may be covered in the policy.  However, the fine print should be read or a call made to the insurance provider to double check.  Ensure expensive items such as cameras, computers and jewellery are covered.  Items should be specified if they are worth more than the limits stated in the policy.  

The advantage of a domestic travel insurance policy is the possibility of lower excesses, (Cover-More Domestic Travel Insurance’s excess is only $25.00).  Compare that to your everyday contents policy which is likely to have an excess of a few hundred dollars.    

Combine this with cover for cancellation costs and medical events… taking out travel insurance is really worthwhile.  

MoaTours guests on the Great Alpine Highway

How much does domestic travel insurance cost?

Compared to the amount of money travellers may lose in non-refundable deposits or the greater loss of cancelling close to departure (possibly the entire cost of a tour) domestic travel insurance costs very little.

Take for example, a 75 year old guest travelling on MoaTrek’s 4 day Coromandel Caper tour.  With the tour priced at $1490.00, taking a Cover-More’s Domestic Cancellation Cover Plan for additional expenses, amendment or cancellation costs would cost just $72.00.  (A 65 year old would pay $41.00) 

For a more comprehensive cover with all the below cover  for up to 5 days which would allow time to travel to Auckland, the departure point, for those not living in Auckland, the cost of Cover-More’s Domestic Plan is $105.00, with only a $25.00 excess. 

See what’s covered in this plan:

Medical and dental expenses $1,500

Additional expenses $10,000

Amendment or cancellation costs $10,000

Luggage and travel documents $5,000

Cameras and video cameras $500

Laptops and tablet computers $500

Other items $500

Travel delay $750

Loss of income $2,250

Disability $10,000

Accidental death $10,000

Legal expenses $5,000

Personal liability $200,000

How much would travel insurance cost to cover a 7 day tour?

Most of our tours are around 6 or 7 days in length, so let's use on of our popular tours as an example. 

A 75 year old couple on MoaTrek’s 7 day Southern Odyssey Tour would be best to take out a more comprehensive plan to cover the full price of the tour. This is one of our South Island tours which includes an airfare, 7 days of accommodation, transport, activities and meals and the price is NZD$4390 per person. Using the handy insurance quote tool from Cover-More, you can quickly see the cost with Cover-More for 7 days would cost $115 per person for all the same cover listed in the example above.  A single 75 year old, $125.00 and a 65 year old would be paying $62.00.

Check out the cost of domestic insurance yourself using this handy tool on the Covermore website.

When should I buy my travel insurance?

So you're fully covered for any eventuality you should buy your travel insurance at the same time you make the first payment on your trip, such as your non-refundable deposit to guarantee your spot.

The cost if the insurance is calculated based on the number of days you're travelling, which is really easy to do for our guests as the start and end date of your tour tell you this, but you're covered for cancellation from the time you purchase it. You actually increase your risk if you decide to take your insurance out when you pay your full balance as you wouldn't be covered for anything which may result in you having to cancel your trip before then.

Do Australians need travel insurance in New Zealand

Yes. Australians do have access to our health system under a reciprocal agreement between our countries, but not everything is covered and for the same reasons outlined above Australians should also take out travel insurance to cover cancellation, disruptions and luggage should unforeseen events occur.

With regards to medical treatment, the New Zealand Ministry of Health website advises: 

‘that an Australian resident who, in the opinion of the provider of medical treatment, needs immediately necessary medical treatment while in New Zealand, they will be provided with such medical treatment as is clinically necessary for the diagnosis, alleviation or care of the condition requiring attention.’  

‘New and pre-existing conditions are covered, but Australian visitors to New Zealand are not entitled to publicly funded emergency transport by ambulance. This includes both non-injury and emergency transport.’

However, it is advised that there are a range of services not publicly funded and New Zealand’s reciprocal agreement with Australia does not provide full coverage, therefore travellers should hold comprehensive travel insurance, including health insurance.

MoaTours guests enjoying a trip in the tender at Milford Sound

It's all about peace of mind

Whether you take out travel insurance for your domestic New Zealand travel is your choice, there's no law saying you have to. Insurance is all about paying a little to cover you in the event of something unforeseen happening. It's just like insuring our houses or our cars, we would rather not pay for it and often nothing happens but in the event something does, we know we're covered.

Many people have the mindset that they don't need travel insurance when travelling in their own country and it's your choice, as long as you're aware of the risks but if you think that paying a little over $100 for peace of mind when travelling is worth it, then get yourself covered.

At MoaTours we recommend everyone on our tours has travel insurance which includes cancellation cover, the most common use of insurance amongst our guests is for unforeseen cancellations. 

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