By Casey ONeill on 24 October 2017

If you’ve been following the adventures of Jess, Sid, Soph, Will and Dave in Student Edge & Columbus Direct's #HolidayFails series, then you know exactly how wrong an innocent little holiday can go.

So should you lock yourself in your bedroom and never travel more than 20km from your home ever again? No, there's a better option:

Go out, make memories and explore! Just look after yourself while you do.

Does that include buying travel insurance? Yes. **Sigh** We get that navigating through cover limits, exclusions and declarations can be difficult - especially if you’re not used to reading insurance contracts. That's why our Travel Insurance 101 is here to help you get a better idea of how travel insurance works, and why it’s important.

Do I really need travel insurance?

You might be fit and healthy, smart, experienced and as strong as Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1971… but, unless you know magic, there is no way to stop injuries from happening, your airport bus from breaking down, your empty hotel room from being robbed or that dodgy roadside taco stand from giving you salmonella. 

Not magic

There’s only one good reason not to buy travel insurance: You’re not travelling. No matter where we travel to or who we travel with, things can go - very expensively - wrong. If you don't want to risk spending the rest of your days paying off an overseas medical bill (or having to ask your parents to bail you out like Soph did in episode 3 of #HolidayFails), travel insurance is the way to go.

Not convinced? Check out these common but ill-conceived reasons for NOT buying travel insurance. Then click the (+) next to a reason to see why it's a bad one.

  • It's not like we're doing Everest - where we're going is totally safe

  • Two words: Reciprocal Healthcare

  • Things are so cheap there… if something goes wrong I can afford it

  • If it's a real emergency the government will help me out

  • It’s too much hassle

  • If I make a claim, they’ll just decline me anyway

What's the deal with pre-existing medical conditions?

When it comes to medical conditions, in our experience the phrase “I don’t think I need to tell you but…” is almost always followed by something that we very definitely need to know about. 

Many insurers will ask you about medical conditions when you buy a policy from them (if they don't, then that probably means they have a blanket exclusion for medical conditions, or they only cover conditions that are on a set list and meet certain criteria). You're legally obliged to give honest and complete answers to questions that help the insurer understand the risk involved in insuring you. If you don't, your policy's cover could be reduced or even invalidated.

So, if there's a medical issue you're not sure about, why not...

Tell Us Anyway

Each insurer has their own definition of pre-existing medical conditions, which you'll often come across during the quote process and will definitely find in the PDS/policy wording. You can check out our definition here.

Want to see some examples of what we consider pre-existing conditions? We've listed some below. Tick the (+) to see why they need to be declared.

  • Jess has asthma, she has an inhaler but hasn't used it in three years

  • Dave got a chest infection 6 months ago. He saw his GP, took some antibiotics and was back to normal within a week

  • Sid has damaged cartilage in his ankle from an old soccer injury. It’s fine now but gets sore from time to time after soccer games

  • Soph takes medication for anxiety and sees a councillor

Having travel insurance means I'm covered for every eventuality, right?

The sound guy at a famous European music festival once said: "Check check, check check." We're not sure if he was talking about travel insurance but, if he was, then it was some pretty sound advice. Why? Because travel insurance doesn't cover everything.

Check yo policy before you wreck yo holidy

So what should you check for? Here are some good places to start: If you find yourself or your travel buddy saying…

  • We'll hire scooters to explore the area and find the best diving spots

  • I just scored us the cheapest flights ever!


  • I just bought a new GoPro

  • The car hire place wants to charge us $25 per day extra to waive the rental insurance excess!

  • We're totally stopping over in LA on our way home!

How to get the most bang for your travel insurance buck

Get covered as soon as you book your trip

If you buy single trip travel insurance from us, your cancellation cover starts working immediately. This is great news, because travel insurance can only ever cover you for unforeseen events. That means you can’t get cover for issues you're already aware of at the time you buy your policy, so it’s a good idea to look into getting travel insurance cover as soon as possible.

TOP TIP: There's a money back guarantee! Want to make the most of your cancellation cover but still be able to change your mind? There's a solution for that: Enter the cooling off period. Once you buy a policy from us, you’ll have 19 days to cancel or make changes to your policy for any reason and get a full refund, provided you haven’t claimed or started travelling.

Sign up for discount offers

If you're a Student Edge member, you can already get an awesome deal on Columbus Direct travel insurance policies. Plus, anyone can sign up for extra special exclusive deals and discounts here (don't worry, we won't spam you or share your details with anyone).

Have a question? Ask us.

Ever wondered how travel insurance responds to a shark attack or what would happen if your backpack fell out of a helicopter? Ask us (we love questions!). Submit your questions here and we’ll answer the most interesting ones on our Facebook page and here in our blog.

If you have a specific question that you need an answer to pronto, our customer care team is available by phone on 1300 669 999 or by email to

Don't forget to share this Travel Insurance 101 with all the travellers you care about and save them from major #HolidayFails this summer. (We've included some sharing buttons below.)

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