SAFE TRAVELLING: Travellers should check Smartraveller advisories when planning, booking and prior to departure on an international trip.
SAFE TRAVELLING: Travellers should check Smartraveller advisories when planning, booking and prior to departure on an international trip.

Risky international destinations top traveller wish lists

RESEARCH shows that more than half of Australian travellers' top three destinations to visit are countries with a Smartraveller Level 2, 3 or 4 advice level.

The research, commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Insurance Council of Australia's Understand Insurance initiative, found:

32 per cent of Australian travellers say they would probably still travel if DFAT raised the travel advice level on Smartraveller to Level 3 (reconsider your need to travel). Of those who would likely still travel, 25 per cent said "the appeal of the destination justified the risk".

87 per cent of Australians aspiring to travel overseas are attracted to destinations that carry risk, or are off the beaten track, with 60 per cent of those under 30 saying they are attracted to places that feel adventurous.

10 per cent of travellers chose not to buy travel insurance. Of these, 71 per cent were travelling to a country where they hold nationality or dual nationality.

Of those without insurance, 15 per cent said they expected to be safe in their destination.

22 per cent of men under 30 travelled overseas without travel insurance.

One in four travellers wrongly believes the Australian Government will pay for medical treatment or emergency travel home if something goes wrong.

Lisa Kable, spokeswoman for understandinsurance., said: "Travellers should check Smartraveller advisories when planning, booking and prior to departure on an international trip.

"Advisories for 177 countries are monitored and can change levels at any time depending on the risk to travellers.

"Risks include disease, natural disasters, civil unrest, war, terrorism activity, volatile security and political situations, banditry, kidnapping, carjacking and violent opportunistic crime targeting foreigners.

"The survey found less than a third of travellers were both aware of the travel advice level of a destination and knew that not all travel insurance may provide coverage depending on the level."

Insurance is available for most high-risk destinations, but Level 4 destinations are usually excluded.

Many travel insurance policies may not cover financial losses resulting from acts of terrorism, war and civil war, but most will cover medical costs.

"Some policies may provide cover in some circumstances such as travellers who are already travelling. Some policies will pay for additional travel and accommodation costs, lost luggage or repatriation," Ms Kable added.

Traveller tips:

Understand your policy by reading the Product Disclosure Statement, and know the inclusions and exclusions specific to the circumstances and conditions for the countries being visited.

Most policies have exclusions relating to pre-existing medical conditions and extreme sports.

Australians should purchase their travel insurance at the time of paying for their trip, not when a travel warning has been issued for the destination.

Travellers who travel to a country despite a Level 3 or 4 travel advice are likely to find claims relating to the advice level are not covered.

Travellers who decide not to go on a booked trip before departure in response to an upward change in advice level are likely not to be covered for claims relating to cancellation unless the advice level moves to a Level 4 - Do Not Travel.

Understand Insurance and Smartraveller encourage all Australian travellers to read the travel advice on before they leave home and subscribe to receive travel updates, or follow Smartraveller and Understand Insurance on social media.

Level 4 destinations include: Afghanistan, Burundi, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic.

Level 3 destinations include: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Haiti, North Korea.

Level 2 destinations include: Belgium, France, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Chile.

Check smartraveller. for the latest destination advice levels.

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