Travel Insurance for Australia
Last updated on 04/18/2019
Do I Need Travel Insurance for Australia?
Australia is one of the most popular travel destinations among our customers. Accordingly, many travelers wonder whether travel insurance is mandatory or necessary for trips to Australia. While it is not required, we highly recommend purchasing travel protection when visiting Australia for several reasons. One of the best reasons to buy a trip insurance plan for Australia is to cover healthcare costs in the event you become sick or injured while traveling. "The Land Down Under" features a wide array of activities and geography, so there is no shortage of ways to hurt yourself. Even stepping off a sidewalk awkwardly can result in a serious injury, so it's a good idea to make sure you and your traveling companions are protected against unexpected medical events. Sometimes life-threatening injuries and illnesses can happen on a trip, which may require medical evacuation and repatriation. It's essential to evaluate the health of both you and your party when deciding what level of medical travel insurance makes sense.
Australia is unique in that it is surrounded entirely by water, so almost all travelers visiting the country take a flight to get there. Why does this matter? Well, anyone who has flown before understands how hard it can be to catch connecting flights or find their lost luggage, and preparing for these potential disruptions is yet another great reason to purchase trip insurance. For most travelers, getting to Australia isn't exactly a short flight. As a result, even the slightest delays or inconveniences can pose a significant risk to the success of your trip. We recommend buying trip insurance for Australia, so that unforeseen events like these don't degrade the quality of your visit, or worse, derail the trip altogether.
Is Australia a Schengen Country?
Another common question we get from customers concerns Australia's Schengen status. Many countries within the European Union require specific travel insurance as well as proof of adequate medical coverage in order to enter. Fortunately for tourists and business travelers heading to Australia, Schengen visa travel insurance is not required. Australia is not part of the Schengen area countries, so there is no particular requirement for travel insurance plans.
What is the Best Travel Insurance for Visitors to Australia?
Are you wondering which travel insurance plan is best for Australia? You're not alone. Many customers ask this question, but no single plan is "best" for every traveler because each customer's needs vary based on several factors. These can include the duration of the trip, which types of coverage are selected, the number of travelers in your party, and the ages of each traveler. InsureMyTrip's travel insurance experts and website technology work with customers to find the right plan, even if in some cases that means no plan at all. To determine which plan meets for your needs, consider what benefits matter the most for you and your traveling companions. The easiest way to get an idea is by entering your details into the quote form and reviewing the results. We highly recommend reading the impartial reviews left by other InsureMyTrip customers when evaluating and choosing the plans, especially because users can filter the reviews by destination, whether a claim was filed, and more.
How Much is Travel Insurance to Australia?
Similar to choosing the "best" coverage, the cost of an Australia travel insurance plan can vary from one traveler to the next. How much a travel insurance plan costs is determined by things like age(s) and number of travelers, health history, trip length, and the type of coverage. Customers can choose to insure their trip cost in some cases, which will also affect the final price of the plan. Additionally, if you or any travelers in your group have a history of health problems, plan cost may increase. Find out how pre-existing health conditions affect trip insurance, so you understand what may or may not be covered for your party.
Travel Tips & Safety for Australia
Money & Currency Exchange
Australia’s official currency is the Australian dollar, which is abbreviated as AUD. Similar to U.S. and Canadian currencies, Australian currency comes in both notes and coins. Coins are available in 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent values as well as the $1 and $2 denominations. Banknotes come in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills but are made of a plastic polymer rather than paper.
The exchange rate between the AUD and other currencies varies, so it's important for travelers to do a little research before departing for their trips. This way, they can make better decisions about when and how much domestic currency to exchange for AUD. Fees are typically assessed per exchange, and these fees can vary based on where the currency is exchanged. Some airports offer currency exchange services, but travelers should compare the fees with those of local banks to find the best deal. In general, keep exchanges to a minimum but make sure you have enough but not too much for the duration of your trip.
While it's always a good idea to have some cash on hand while traveling in Australia, it's also a good idea to bring additional payment options like credit and debit cards. Not only can visitors in Australia use credit and debit cards to pay for services, but they can also access cash via ATMs. For the most part, MasterCard and Visa cards are both commonly accepted throughout Australia. American Express is not nearly as widely accepted and Discover credit cards are usually not accepted at all. Keep in mind though that credit card issuers typically charge between 1% and 3% for transactions in other countries. The best way to know for sure is to contact your bank and find out how much the fees are for each card you intend to use. You should also see if your lender or bank partners with any banks in Australia that allow you to use ATMs without fees. Additionally, it's a good idea to bring more than one card issued from different banks in case the issuer has problems. Most importantly, alert your bank that you will be traveling overseas, so any charges or payments you make are not deemed fraudulent, and no holds are placed on your accounts.
Like any developed country, Australia features a robust transportation system. In major cities, travelers can choose from many public transit options including buses, trains, trams, and ferries. Taxi service is also commonly available in cities and larger towns. However, one of the most often overlooked aspects of traveling in Australia is the country's sheer size. Australia is the 6th largest country by land mass, and traveling from one coast to the other takes a lot of time especially if you choose to drive. Even though tourists are able to drive on current overseas licenses in most Australian states and territories (with the exception of the Northern Territory), you may want to reconsider that road trip if it will take up valuable vacation time. Buses provide another option for long-distance travel, but seasoned travelers will often fly when traveling between major cities. Obviously, the cost of flying is usually quite a bit more than taking a bus or driving a rental car, so you'll have to balance the cost with how much time you plan to spend in each of your destinations. If you do still plan to drive, you should know that Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road and that the rules of the road vary by state/territory. You'll also want to be prepared for long stretches of road with nearly featureless landscapes and some spotty phone service and Wi-Fi along the way.
Australia has a very diverse population and a rich history. As a result, you shouldn't expect that the stereotypes you see in film or TV will be accurate (although they do love barbecues, or "barbies"). That said, the people are generally very friendly, and Australian culture is founded on approachability. For example, people often communicate on a first-name basis despite rank or hierarchy. It's also quite common to call others and be called "mate." Just be sure to pay attention to the inflection and tone because "mate" does not always mean "friend." Communication is casual but direct and often a bit humorous. Generally speaking, it's easy for tourists to make friends. If you're invited to a party, especially a barbie, it's customary to bring drinks. When in doubt, ask the host if there is something specific you should bring.
Like many places, drinking alcohol socially is a big part of Australia's culture. Purchasing alcoholic drinks in a restaurant setting quickly gets expensive, so it is common for those heading out for a night on the town to do a little pre-drinking or find spots that allow patrons to bring their own drinks. It's also customary to take turns buying rounds for you and your friends. (Despite what many westerners have been led to believe, Australians don't drink Foster's, so you shouldn't either.) If you do decide to drink, keep in mind that alcohol consumption may impact your travel insurance plan. Drinking may also affect your judgment and ability to read situations, so it's a good idea to pace yourself while you're getting used to your new surroundings.
Tipping is not a requirement in Australia. Basically, you tip if you want to, but there is no social pressure to do so. If you receive exceptional service at a restaurant, tipping between 5 - 10% is perfectly fine. Tipping bartenders and taxi drivers is typically done by rounding up to the next dollar. Tour guides are not usually tipped, so keep that in mind if you plan to take a tour with a group.
Speaking the Language
Australia is unique in that there is no official language, but English is the de facto language and is spoken by nearly three-quarters of the population. Additional languages are spoken including many Australian Aboriginal languages as well as Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Italian to a lesser degree. If you're a native English speaker, you might think that conversing with the locals will be easy. Not so fast! While English is most widely spoken, Australian accents can be difficult for unaccustomed ears to understand initially. Additionally, there are all kinds of slang terms that can be confusing for first-time visitors. Before you leave for your Australia trip, you should familiarize yourself with some common slang terms you may hear:
- Arvo: afternoon
- Barbie: barbecue
- Breaky: breakfast
- Bogan: Australian equivalent of redneck, unsophisticated person
- Bottle-O: liquor store
- Bush: The Outback, rural countryside
- Bushwalk: backpack, trek
- Chockers: full
- Derro: short version of derelict, delinquent
- Fair Dinkum: true, genuine
- Good on ya: good for you, well done
- Goon: inexpensive boxed wine
- Grommet: young surfer
- Maccas: McDonald's
- Mozzie: mosquito
- No worries: you're welcome, it's okay
- Ripper: awesome, really great
- Roo: kangaroo
- Servo: gas/petrol station
- She'll be right: everything will be fine
- Shout: pay for a round of drinks at a bar
- Sickie: Sick day, taking a day off of work
- Ta: thanks
- Thongs: flip flop sandals
- Togs: swim/bathing suit
- Ute: pickup truck, utility vehicle
- Yeah nah/nah yeah: either yes or no depending on the last word of the phrase
Note that this list is by no means exhaustive. Slang in any language evolves rapidly, so don't be surprised if you hear an Australian word or phrase that isn't on the list.
Risk & Crime
According to SafeAround.com, Australia is considered very safe and is ranked 10th out of 162 countries that are tracked. This rating does not mean travelers are immune from crime, however. Visitors to Australia may still experience issues with petty theft, especially pickpocketing. Exercising caution in crowded areas, including tourist hotspots, is always recommended. Avoid keeping your wallet and important documents in easily accessed areas. A money belt can be a great asset when traveling too, so consider picking one up before you depart. Tourists should also avoid walking alone in parks and other dimly lit areas at night to minimize risk. Keep track of all your belongings and keep them safely locked up to avoid not only theft but also disruptions to your trip.
It may surprise some travelers, but the greatest safety risks in Australia are natural. For example, if you have plans to visit one of the many beaches you should absolutely bring sunscreen rated SPF 30 or higher. The level of UV exposure is increased in Australia due in part to the hole in the ozone layer above the country. It can take as little as 15 minutes to get a sunburn without protection. In addition to high UV exposure, tourists must be conscious of the risks associated with swimming. Strong riptides and large waves can spell disaster for beachgoers who aren't paying attention. Always swim in designated areas with lifeguards on duty and avoid going to the beach alone, especially if you are not a strong swimmer.
Wildlife also poses a threat not only on beaches but also in other parts of the country. Bull sharks, saltwater crocodiles, Box and Irukandji jellyfish, and blue-ringed octopus can affect swimmers in ocean waters. Some land-based wildlife, including several venomous snake species and the infamous Sydney funnel web spider, are poisonous and can be fatal. Although kangaroos look cuddly, they can be much larger than tourists expect. In general, don't get too close (you don't want to get kicked) and keep your eyes peeled while driving on open roadways.
Australia is no stranger to natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions, cyclones, heat waves, and wildfires (known regionally as "bushfires"). While many of these threats are difficult to prepare for, travelers should pay attention to areas prone to long periods of dry heat and ultimately bushfires. If you're traveling through the Outback, for example, there are some stretches with limited water, little to no cell service, and no gas stations. As with every part of your trip to Australia, you should evaluate the safety risks and plan accordingly.
Popular Destinations & Tourist Attractions in Australia
Deciding where to go and what to do on your Australian vacation is definitely one of the most fun parts about planning the trip. Australia is not only a country but also a continent, so seeing every major destination and tourist hotspot is probably not possible unless you're taking an extended trip. However, a methodical approach to planning your itinerary will help you maximize your time. Consider your interests and the people you'll be traveling with. If you like city life and beaches, stick to the coasts. If you interested in national parks or taking a bushwalking tour, plan some stops in the rural inland areas of the country. Keep in mind that the season will also affect your trip. While many westerners think that Australia's climate is the opposite of the northern hemisphere's, that is only true for the southern portion of the country. Make sure to look at a map to get a real sense of just how far locations are from one another and plan for the weather you may encounter.
Top 10 Travel Destinations for Australia
- Great Barrier Reef
- Great Ocean Road
- Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park
- Kangaroo Island
- Kakadu National Park
- The Kimberley
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article serves as a general overview of benefits and should only be used for informational purposes. Refer to your individual certificate of insurance for specific coverages, exclusions, and benefits. When in doubt, please contact one of our licensed agents for additional assistance.