Review: Budget Direct travel insurance

Don't be fooled by the name: Budget Direct offers comprehensive and annual multi-trip cover too – so how does it stack up?

By Chris Chamberlin, July 15 2020
Budget Direct travel insurance
Notes
The Good
  • A range of policy options to suit various needs
The Bad
  • Items used for business purposes aren't covered for loss, theft or damage
X-Factor
  • There's some coronavirus cover, depending on policy and travel dates

Introduction

Despite its name, Budget Direct offers a variety of travel insurance plans, from basic insurance covering little more than lost luggage, through to fully comprehensive insurance with unlimited medical cover, and more.

Even though Budget Direct has temporarily paused the sale of new travel insurance policies while many domestic and international travel restrictions remain in effect, here's a look at how Budget Direct travel insurance generally stacks up.

Budget Direct travel insurance plans

Budget Direct offers five different types of travel insurance. There's one policy purely for domestic travellers, and three types of policies for international flyers with varying levels of cover.

As with many other insurers, Budget Direct also sells an Annual Multi-Trip plan, suited to travellers who take several trips each year.

Annual Multi-Trip Insurance

Popular with regular flyers, Budget Direct's Annual Multi-Trip Insurance policy offers cover for an unlimited number of trips over a 12-month period.

Each trip is limited to 30 days or less, which should cover most journeys – but if you're planning a longer holiday, you'll need to look to a different policy type (or different insurer) for cover.

Comprehensive Travel Insurance

Of Budget Direct's single-trip policies, its Comprehensive Travel Insurance plan offers the most extensive level of cover.

The coverage inclusions are comparable to the Annual Multi-Trip Insurance, but being valid for a single journey instead.

Essential Travel Insurance

Budget Direct's Essential Travel Insurance offers cover for what's typically most important – such as unlimited overseas medical and hospital insurance – but with reduced cover in other areas.

For instance, Essentials Travel Insurance covers theft of cash up to $250, versus a higher limit of $400 on the higher-level plans.

Last Minute Travel Insurance

Despite the name, Last Minute Travel Insurance can be purchased at any time before a journey.

Budget Direct describes this plan as "a basic level of cover at our cheapest price," reflecting that the inclusions and payout levels are lower again compared to the Essential Travel Insurance plan.

Domestic Travel Insurance

For a one-off trip within Australia, Budget Direct's Domestic Travel Insurance offers cover against essentials like cancellation and amendment fees, lost luggage, and personal liability.

However, there's no cover for things like medical care within Australia, as that's the realm of either Medicare or any dedicated health insurance policy you may separately hold.

What does Budget Direct travel insurance cover?

As outlined above, exactly what's covered by Budget Direct's travel insurance policies depends on the type of cover the traveller purchases.

Additional cover, such as for snow sports, can be added to any of the Budget Direct policies above for an additional fee. Plus, additional cover can be purchased for 'specified items', over and above what would normally be included within the policy limits.

Here's an outline of the types of claims Budget Direct may cover, based on a policy for one adult traveller.

Budget Direct medical cover

If an injury occurs on your travels or you develop a covered illness, here's what Budget Direct can pay out for a medical claim, noting that claim limits vary by policy type. 

Medical claims

Annual Multi-Trip & Comprehensive

Essential

Last Minute

Domestic

Medical expenses overseas, including hospital admission

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Not applicable

Out of pocket expenses in overseas hospitals

$75 per completed 24 hours, up to $2,500 total

$75 per completed 24 hours, up to $1,000 total

No cover

Not applicable

Total permanent disability (e.g. loss of sight or limb) or death

Up to $5,000, $20,000 or $40,000, depending on the event and/or insured person’s age

Up to $30,000, depending on the event (excluding death)

No cover

Up to $5,000 or $15,000, depending on the event and/or insured person’s age

Various restrictions may apply, including for pre-existing conditions or medical care undertaken which the insurer believed could have waited until your return home, so refer to the policy documents for more information or speak with the insurer.

Of course, keep in mind that if your treatment for an illness or injury incurred overseas continues after returning to Australia, those expenses incurred within Australia are not covered by travel insurance.

This is standard across most insurers, as medical care within Australia is instead a matter for Medicare or a person's private health insurer.

Budget Direct delay, cancellation and inconvenience cover

If there's a disruption to your journey, Budget Direct may cover out-of-pocket expenses up to the following policy limits:

Inconvenience and cancellation

Annual Multi-Trip & Comprehensive

Essential

Last Minute

Domestic

Travel delay

 $100 per completed 12 hours, up to $2,000 total

$50 per completed 12 hours, up to $1,000 total

No cover

$50 per completed 12 hours, up to $1,000 total

Trip cancelled due to unforeseen events outside your control

 Unlimited

Up to $12,500

No cover

Up to $10,000

Alternative transport expenses to get to an eligible pre-arranged event

Up to $5,000

Up to $2,500

No cover

Up to $2,500

Pet care (additional kennel or cattery fees)

Up to $500

No cover

No cover

No cover

Expenses relating to travel delays could be for costs such as food and beverages purchased during the delay, additional accommodation if the delay is lengthy, and so on.

Notably not every insurer provides 'pet care' cover – that is, if you're over 24 hours late getting back to Australia because of bad weather, a strike, mechanical breakdown or industrial action – which is something Budget Direct includes on its highest-priced plans.

However, Budget Direct excludes cover for "any costs paid to a travel services provider (airline or cruise company) if the same travel service provider is responsible for the cancellation."

Also excluded is "any claim that results from you missing a connection flight." The policy doesn't make it clear whether this only excludes missed connections that are the fault of the traveller (such as by not being at the gate on-time), or when an inbound flight was delayed and the connection was missed through no fault of the traveller's own.

Budget Direct luggage and property cover

If your suitcase doesn't arrive on the baggage belt, or your belongings have been stolen elsewhere, here are Budget Direct's claim limits relevant to these claims.

Property

Annual Multi-Trip & Comprehensive

Essential

Last Minute

Domestic

Loss, theft, accidental damage to luggage and personal effects

Up to $7,500

Up to $5,000

Up to $2,500

Up to $5,000

Essential expenses when your luggage is delayed by more than 24 hours

Up to $600

Up to $400

No cover

Up to $250

Limits may apply per item. However, cover for 'essential expenses' when your luggage delayed is not available "on your final inward journey returning home".

Other cover for luggage and personal effects specifically excludes items such as sunglasses, dentures, paintings and "household equipment", but also excludes loss, theft or damage to "valuables which you do not carry in your hand luggage while you are travelling."

For example, pack a laptop or jewellery in your checked bag and those items may not be covered for loss, theft or damage, as they should instead be carried into the cabin. Refer to the policy documents for full information.

It's also worth pointing out that Budget Direct doesn't cover "property of any kind used wholly or partially for business," which could make the coverage unsuitable for business travellers.

Budget Direct liability cover

If you're held liable for accidentally injuring somebody on your travels, or damaging or losing somebody else's property, Budget Direct may cover you, as below.

Legal

Annual Multi-Trip & Comprehensive

Essential

Last Minute

Domestic

Personal liability, such as for injuries or property damage you may cause

Up to $5 million

Up to $2 million

Up to $1 million

Up to $1.5 million

Rental vehicle insurance excess, if your hire car is damaged or stolen

Up to $6,000

Up to $4,000

No cover

Up to $4,000

There's a key word above that you should be mindful of on your travels: rental vehicle insurance excess. This cover does not mean you have blanket rental insurance when hiring a car, by way of your travel insurance policy.

Instead, it means the insurer may contribute to the excess payable on another insurance policy – such as the one levied by default by a car hire provider – in the event of a claim.

In some countries, there may be no such thing as an "excess", and in that case, you'd either have insurance, which is not from your Budget Direct policy, or you won't: and if that's the case, there'd be no insurance "excess" to pay, and thus likely no cover from Budget Direct under those circumstances.

Budget Direct cover for unexpected travel

If you need to return home sooner than planned because of a medical event – either your own injury during the journey, or if a close relative has unexpectedly gone into hospital or passed away – Budget Direct may cover you, as below.

Additional travel

Annual Multi-Trip & Comprehensive

Essential

Last Minute

Domestic

Cutting your trip short, such as if you're too unwell to finish your journey

Unlimited

Up to $12,500

No cover

Up to $7,500

Resuming your trip after returning home, within 60 days, subject to approval

Up to $3,000

No cover

No cover

Up to $3,000

Claims of this nature aren't payable to those holding a Last Minute plan, or for resumption of journey, for those with an Essential plan, either. 

Budget Direct cover for snow sports

Planning to go skiing, snowboarding or participating in other types of snow sports on your journey? These activities are usually not covered by default, and instead require the traveller to purchase snow sports cover as an add-on to their regular policy.

Snow sports, via add-on

Annual Multi-Trip & Comprehensive

Essential

Last Minute

Domestic

Piste closure

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

Skiing pre-paid costs, if unable to ski as planned illness or injury

$150 per 24 hours, up to $600 total

$150 per 24 hours, up to $600 total

$150 per 24 hours, up to $600 total

$150 per 24 hours, up to $600 total

Hire costs for ski gear after accidental damage, theft, loss or delay

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

$50 per 24 hours, up to $500 total

Loss, theft or accidental damage to ski gear

Up to $600 per single article, pair or set, up to $1,250 total

Up to $600 per single article, pair or set, up to $1,250 total

Up to $600 per single article, pair or set, up to $1,250 total

Up to $600 per single article, pair or set, up to $1,250 total

Avalanche delays arrival or departure from a ski resort by 12+ hours

Up to $600

Up to $600

Up to $600

Up to $600

Pro-rata value cover for a lost or stolen lift pass

Up to $500

Up to $500

Up to $500

Up to $500

Be aware that if you choose not to purchase Budget Direct's snow sports add-on, other aspects of the insurance policy may not apply when engaging in snow sports: such as medical coverage for an injury caused on the slopes.

Although snow sports cover is not typically required simply to visit a snowy destination – such as to walk around a city where it happens to be snowing, but where you're not skiing or similar – do check the policy documents for the full details, including any coverage exclusions.

Budget Direct claim excess

Budget Direct typically levies an excess on most types of claims, unless the customer has previously opted to reduce or remove that excess.

The standard excess on Budget Direct travel insurance is $200. For a higher premium price, travellers can opt to reduce this excess to $100, or to no excess at all, when purchasing their policy.

Some claim types may have no excess applied, while some claims may also be subject to caps, limits and exclusions, as outlined in the policy documents.

Budget Direct key exclusions

All travel insurers maintain a list of exclusions and exemptions from cover, and Budget Direct is no exception.

While you should read the policy documents to confirm the full list of exclusions and Budget Direct's other terms and conditions relating to cover, several coverage exclusions are notable.

For example, if your flight is cancelled, Budget Direct will not reimburse "any costs paid to a travel services provider (airline or cruise company) if the same travel service provider is responsible for the cancellation."

As well, cover is also excluded from "any claim that results from you missing a connection flight."

Loss, theft or damage to "household equipment" is also excluded under the policy. However, "household equipment" is not defined, which could leave this open to interpretation in the event of a claim.

Budget Direct coronavirus cover

Among the many 'general exclusions' that form part of Budget Direct's insurance cover, claims relating to the coronavirus may or may not be payable, depending on the circumstances.

Budget Direct confirms that the following is not normally covered by its policies: "Any claim directly or indirectly arising from an epidemic, pandemic or outbreak of an infectious disease, virus or condition, including and derivative or mutation of such disease, virus or condition, or the threat or perceived threat of any such epidemic, pandemic or outbreak."

That said, the insurer acknowledges that for customers who bought travel insurance and commenced travel before certain events took place, aspects like medical coverage may continue to be available.

Additionally, customers who bought travel insurance before countries were moved to 'do not travel' by the Australian Government, or before the World Heath Organisation confirmed coronavirus was an emerging issue, may be eligible to claim for the cost of cancelling their journey to follow such travel advice.

Budget Direct has published an information page regarding coronavirus, including example claim scenarios based on booking and travel dates, which you can find here.

Budget Direct claim process

Hopefully your most recent trip went without incident – but if you do need to submit a travel insurance claim with Budget Direct, you can do so via the insurer's website.

Before your claim can be assessed, you'll need to prepare and submit a number of documents to support your claim, and confirm the nature and timing of your trip.

As well as getting your Budget Direct policy number handy, you'll also need to gather your travel itinerary, any invoices or receipts relating to expenses being claimed, your boarding passes from the trip to confirm travel dates, and your bank account details for payment.

You'll also need to share the details of your incident, which you can prepare beforehand, or enter during the claim process.

Tips for a speedy Budget Direct claim

When preparing your claim, you'll be advised which specific documents you should send through to Budget Direct as part of that claim.

You should ensure all these documents are attached when your claim is submitted, otherwise you may face delays.

Budget Direct aims to respond to all claims within 10 business days (practically speaking, that's two weeks) – but if parts of your claim were incomplete or further information is needed, you'll need to respond to those questions and then wait another 10 business days for a follow-up response.

If your policy doesn't cover business travel, you may also wish to submit a copy of your credit card statement (or a transaction extract) showing that your travel arrangements were paid for by yourself, a family member or a friend.

Even if the insurer doesn't request this, on policies which only cover holiday / leisure travel, this can help to establish that the journey wasn't funded by an employer or a client, which would commonly be the case if you were travelling on business.

Budget Direct: the verdict

Overall, Budget Direct offers a good range of travel insurance cover to suit most needs – whether that's to find a low-priced policy with only minimal inclusions, or a higher-priced and more premium policy to cover a greater variety of scenarios and expenses.

The price of each policy will depend upon several factors including the traveller's age, length of the trip, destinations visited, any add-ons purchased (such as snow sports cover) and the excess chosen by the customer.

As such, it's impossible for us to say whether Budget Direct lives up to its name and provides cover at an affordable price when compared with its competitors, as the cost of each policy will differ.

To make sure you're getting the best value, you might consider getting a quote from several travel insurers for the same exact trip (e.g. travel dates and destinations and the traveller's age), but do check what's included and excluded with each policy, as this can vary between insurers.

However, business travellers should be particularly careful when choosing insurers, as some may not cover business travel at all – or may only cover business travel on certain policy types.

Also read: Travel Insurance Direct (TID) travel insurance review


The above is intended as a general guide only, drawn from information published by the insurer as available at the time of writing. Insurance policies can change over time. Executive Traveller makes no guarantee to the validity of any claim, or that the information published here remains up-to-date.

Conditions, exclusions, limits and policy terms and conditions apply to all travel insurance products, and may differ between policy types, plans and add-ons. Refer to the relevant policy documents for more specific information about the coverage available, and to determine whether a product adequately meets your needs. All questions regarding insurance policies and products must be directed to the insurer, and cannot be answered here or elsewhere by Executive Traveller staff.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2017

Total posts 36

Budget by name, budget by nature.

Chris can I suggest it may be a better focus for reviews of Corporate Travel policies given the nature of the site?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2397

Hey Carrots: as it happens, Executive Traveller has a high percentage of readers who are self-employed and run their own business, and Budget Direct is a surprisingly popular option alongside the better-known brands, which is why we added it to the list of travel insurance products that we're working through.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Oct 2017

Total posts 36

Hey David, I probably should clarify a bit more - the name Corporate Travel is a classic exampel of the insurance industry not always being in the 2020's when it comes to naming conventions.

Generally the only thing needed for a CT policy is an ABN and for the most part, policy coverage is far superior than the domestic products (ie Budget's) with comparable entry point premiums where many self employed biz owners would fit. A lot of common exclusions within domestic products are generally not seen within CT policies (eg no pre existing medical or alcohol exclusions, prior to Covid being deemed a pandemic cover applied etc).

It's probably safe to say there is minimal marketing presence around CT policies compared to domestic products which is why they quite often slip under the radar for many.

(when I say domestic product I'm referring to policy type rather than travel type - ie home insurance is a domestic product etc)


15 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Yes and on t thing to note is that travel insurance for rental cars does not usually cover the usual exclusions such as windscreens, undercarriage, tyres and single vehicle accidents.

Always ask the tough questions or buy specific third party excess cover such as Bonzah in the USA or Tripcover in Australia and New Zealand

16 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

From my personal experience I would strongly recommend NOT purchasing any insurance policy's from this company. I have had a car insurance claim rejected based on 'Grey' area PDS wording even after Budget Direct representatives advised me verbally I was cover when taking out the policy.

As far as there travel insurance goes again too many 'Grey' areas. Snow sports are an extra! Even walking around a town in the snow is questionable!

I would assume then that water sports such as surfing, swimming, snorkelling or diving would not be standard cover either then! And perhaps going to the beach may be seen as risky by this company and an optional extra!

It's just not worth it in my opinion using this company as it could very well be a case of Budget Regret when making a claim.


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