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Risky international destinations top traveller wish lists

risky destinations : check the travel advice

More than half of Australian travellers’ top three destinations to visit are risky countries with a Smartraveller level 2, 3 or 4 travel advice level, according to research released. Risky international travel destinations should be considered in view of travel advice lest you may impact your travel insurance.

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 trave)l. 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, spokesperson for, says: “Travellers should check Smartraveller advisories when planning, booking and prior to departure on an international trip.

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“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.”

Travel 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 polices 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 says.

Travellers tips for risky international travel destinations

Traveller tips:

  • Understand your policy by reading the Product Disclosure Statement, 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 for more destination advice levels.

*Source: 2019 Quantum Market Research 2019 joint survey of 1100 travellers conducted on behalf of The Department of Foreign and Affairs and Trade’s and ©Insurance Council of Australia

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