What is a Travel Insurance Excess?

Find out what a travel insurance excess is and how you should compare them here.

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, updated on September 4th, 2023       

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When you’re shopping the market for the perfect travel insurance policy, there’s no doubt you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for the price of your premium. However, it’s also essential to look out for the excess you have to pay if you need to make a claim. If you’re unfamiliar with how excesses work on travel insurance, you can learn more about them with Savvy.

Learn how excesses vary from provider to provider and what can influence how much you pay to make a claim. Find out the ins and outs of travel insurance excesses by comparing your options with us today.

What is a travel insurance excess?

Any claim on your domestic or international travel insurance coverage will be subject to a fixed excess, often known as a deductible. An excess is an out-of-pocket sum of money that you pay when you make a claim. This means, for example, if you incur medical expenses totalling $3, 000 while on holiday, your insurance company may need you to pay a typical excess of $200 before they reimburse you for the other $2, 800.

You do get some options when it comes to how much you can pay towards a claimable event. Travel insurance policies have different types of excesses, including:

  • Standard excess: this is a value set by your insurer that you’re required to pay to make a successful claim. Standard excesses started from $100 with the maximum amount you’ll likely pay being about $500. However, certain providers won’t make you pay anything for certain claimable events.
  • Voluntary excess: in place of a fixed excess, most travel insurers will allow you to choose how much you pay if you need to make a claim. This can be handy if you want to reduce how much you pay for your premium (by increasing the excess) or remove the excess altogether (by paying an extra premium).
  • Extra excess: some types of coverage require you to pay an additional excess if you need to make a claim. This is often the case if you take out cover for ‘high-risk’ recreational activities, such as skiing or snowboarding. You will most likely need to pay an extra $100 to make a claim under your insurance.

If your provider requires you to pay a travel insurance excess, you will need to pay this for every insured event and each benefit you intend on claiming. For example, if you lose your luggage and make a claim, before being admitted to the hospital later on during your trip, you will need to pay two separate excesses.

Your travel insurance will pay for anything over the excess up to the claim limit for your specific event. For example, while you’re usually allowed to claim an unlimited amount for medical expenses, the maximum you’ll be able to claim for the cancellation of your trip may only be up to $50, 000.

What claims do travel insurance excesses apply to?

Not all travel insurance claims will require you to pay an excess. However, it’s handy to know what types of claimable incidents you’ll need to pay an out-of-pocket cost towards and which you won’t when you take out your travel insurance.

Some of the expenses you’ll need to pay an excess on include:

  • Overseas medical costs: medical cover is one of the key benefits of purchasing travel insurance. If you need to visit a doctor or take a trip to the hospital, you will have a gap to pay if you need to claim back the expenses through your insurer.
  • Evacuation or repatriation: if you’re aboard a cruise and need to abandon ship due to an accident or if you’re in a rural area and need evacuating, your insurer foots the bill for an air or road ambulance, but you will still need to pay an excess.
  • Lost or stolen bags: having your luggage swiped or losing them while you’re on holiday can be a real lowlight. You must pay an excess if you want to get them repaired or replaced through your insurer.
  • Cancellations: need to call off your holiday due to illness or a death in the family? You can claim back any pre-paid expenses such as flights, hotels or tours, but you’ll need to pay a deductible.
  • Personal liability: the legal bills can be eye-watering if you're held personally responsible for the injury or damage to another person or their property. Your insurer can have your back in any event; however, you’ll need to pay an excess towards what you claim.
  • Loss of passport or travel documents: it can be frustrating when your passport or visa documents go walkabout while you’re on a trip. Your travel insurer can arrange their replacement, but you must pay an excess.

The incidents which don’t require you to pay an excess typically include claims relating to the delay of your flight or luggage, loss of income, permanent disability or accidental death. For example, if you’re travelling to Mexico and your departing plane is delayed by more than 24 hours, your insurance company can allow you to claim for a night’s accommodation, meals and any essentials you require, such as toiletries, without paying an excess.

Should I increase or decrease my travel insurance excess?

If you want to reduce the cost of your premium, increasing your excess may be the way to go. However, if you want to reduce or remove your excess, it will save you out-of-pocket costs if you need to make a claim. Therefore, you should weigh up these considerations when purchasing travel insurance.

Remember that if you want to lower or eliminate your excess, your insurance premiums will likely increase by $30 or more. To help you choose the most affordable option, you can compare quotes with Savvy.

If you want to increase your excess, ensure the amount you choose is manageable and affordable. Suppose your luggage is stolen while on holiday in Serbia and you’ve opted for a $500 excess. If you don’t have the means to pay the excess, it could deter you from making a claim and cost you your worldly possessions.

What are some of the factors which impact the value of your excess?

Frequently asked questions about travel insurance

When do I need to pay the excess on my travel insurance?

An excess is payable when you claim your travel insurance. There’s no need to pay your excess when you purchase your policy.

Can I increase my excess if I’m already overseas?

Travel insurance companies usually won’t let you change your policy once you’ve departed on your holiday. However, some may allow you to cancel your existing policy for a small fee and offer you a new one if you want to increase your excess.

What is an excess waiver on travel insurance policies?

An excess waiver is the name of the product which allows you to remove the excess on your travel insurance policy. For example, if you pay roughly between $10 and $30 extra for a waiver, your insurer will remove your excess and you won’t need to pay one if you make a claim.

How do I pay a travel insurance excess?

More often than not, you won’t have to pay your excess to your travel insurance company directly. Instead, your insurer will deduct your excess from any amount they intend to pay you when you make a claim.

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We do not compare all travel insurance brands currently operating in the market. Any advice presented above or on other pages is general in nature and does not consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an insurance policy.

Savvy earns a commission from our partners each time a customer buys a travel insurance policy via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased from these brands directly, as all purchases are conducted via their websites.

Before purchasing your policy, we recommend you refer to the provider’s PDS for any further information on the terms, inclusions and exclusions.