Are you heading overseas or to another part of New Zealand with no plans to return? You can still get travel insurance, but you won’t be eligible for some policies. Even if you do intend to return, but will depart before booking your return flight, some travel insurance policies will have special conditions or not cover you at all. As always, it’s important to check the fine print.
This article provides a summary of the main benefits and rules found in one-way travel insurance policies. It’s designed to help you get started on finding the right cover for your needs, before you shop around or talk to an insurance broker.
What does one-way travel insurance cover?
One-way travel insurance can include most of the benefits provided by normal travel policies. That’s great, because most of the things that can go wrong on a round-trip holiday can still happen on your one-way trip to a new country or region.
Every policy is different of course. The cover provided for events beyond your control, maximum pay-out limits, conditions, age limits and exclusions will vary from one to another. Here are the main types of cover to consider.
- Cancellation or disruption: If you have to cancel or reschedule your trip, or part of it, this benefit can cover the costs involved. It can include accommodation bookings if they’re reasonably required. Many policies include cover for flights or connections that you miss through no fault of your own.
- Baggage and personal belongings: This covers loss, theft and damage to your belongings, unless it’s within New Zealand and they’re already covered by your contents insurance. It can also include reasonable costs for essentials if your baggage is delayed for a defined period, like 12 hours. Be sure to check the pay-out sub-limits for certain valuable items, such as jewellery, phones and laptops. Personal belongings cover will only apply to items travelling with you. If you’re sending other items as freight, they’ll need separate insurance cover.
- Rental vehicle excess: If you rent a vehicle within your travel insurance cover period, this will cover the rental insurance excess you have to pay if you need to make a claim.
- Emergency medical or dental: This benefit covers the cost of urgent and unforeseen medical or dental care required within your travel insurance cover period. Claims arising from a pre-existing symptom, illness or injury probably won’t be covered, unless the insurer agrees to it when you take out your policy. If you’re injured or become ill on a flight, during a stopover or on arrival, the cost of overseas medical care can be huge. Again, be sure to check the policy details.
How long does one-way travel cover last?
The period of cover varies from one policy to another and it’s an important consideration. You might find that you need to pre-arrange long-term insurance for your arrival in a new country. Some policies, such as Air New Zealand’s one-way domestic essentials travel insurance, have a cover period that ends when your flight arrives at your final destination. One-way international policies may include the first day or week after you arrive; others might let you request a slightly longer period in return for a higher premium.
What if you’re planning a stopover?
One-way travel insurance will usually cover a stopover along the way to your final destination. However, it’s important to check that the stopover country is included in the regions covered by your policy. If not, you may need to pay extra to add another region or switch to a worldwide policy.
It’s also important to consider whether cover is provided for higher-risk activities or competitive sports you might be undertaking during your stopover. Excluded activities often include things like riding a motor scooter, scuba diving, snow skiing, or even voluntary or paid manual work.
Cruises are often excluded
What if you intend to return to New Zealand?
If you intend to return to New Zealand, but won’t be booking a return flight before leaving, you can often take out a normal two-way policy. However, you must let your insurer know that you won’t have a return flight booked. In this case the cover period will be up to an agreed date, rather than until you have returned to your normal place of residence in New Zealand. Typically, the agreed date can’t be more than 12 months from when you leave New Zealand, but the maximum period is often much less. If you have to return to New Zealand unexpectedly, the insurer will normally deduct the cost of an economy airfare from their pay-out. This makes sense, as you won’t have already paid for a flight home.
It helps to think about the types of cover and pay-out limits that are must-haves and nice-to-haves in your case. Shopping around and comparing the details of policies from different insurers can take time. It’s often easier to talk to an insurance broker who represents the main travel insurance providers.
In the meantime, since one-way travel insurance policies have a lot in common with return travel policies, you might like to read our more detailed complete guide to travel insurance.