Another roadblock in the return of international travel has been removed after the Australian government dropped its 'do not travel' warning from over 150 countries, making it easier for people to obtain insurance and Covid cover ahead of their flight.
While no country carries the lowest 'Level 1 – exercise normal safety precautions', more than 100 have been downgraded to 'Level 2 – exercise a high degree of caution', for which most insurance companies will still issue a policy.
The Level 2 list includes popular destinations such as the UK, Europe, the USA, Canada, Fiji, India, Singapore and indeed much of Asia.
Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lanes – which will extend to Australia in November – requires that inbound travellers hold a policy which includes at least SGD$30,000 for Covid-related medical expenses.
However, some 50 countries – including Thailand, which plans to reopen to Australian visitors from November 1 – are at the amber alert of 'Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel', which may exclude it from many travel insurance policies offered in Australia.
Entry to Thailand currently requires medical insurance with a minimum coverage of USD$50,000.
"It's important to check the reason that the country is under advice level 3, as you may not be covered for it," advises the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
"We know it has been a difficult 18 months for Australians overseas trying to return, and for Australians with family and friends overseas," Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said in a statement regarding today's changes, which came just days ahead of the November 1 restart of international travel.
"The changes announced today are a vital next step in re-uniting Australian families and safely re-opening Australia to the world."
PREVIOUS [October 20, 2021] With international travel back on the cards from November 1 – at least out of Sydney and Melbourne – and thousands of Australians headed overseas for the first time in over 18 months, the government is now revising its travel warnings for almost 200 countries.
It's a critical step in the restart of overseas travel, as the warnings – published on the Smarttraveller.com.au website operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – impacts the availability of travel insurance.
And international travel insurance will be more important that even in the Covid era of travel, especially as several countries make some form of 'Covid cover' a condition of entry.
DFAT and Smarttraveller.com.au currently list all of the 177 countries on their watchlist as 'Level 4 – do not travel' destinations, with the sole exception of New Zealand which remains pegged as 'Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.'
Australian travel insurance providers typically won't offer a policy if you're headed for a country which DFAT has flagged as a Level 4 destination, which means that many people booking airfares right now for flights in November aren't able to get travel insurance.
Travel insurance coverage is normally extended only to countries earmarked as 'Level 1 – exercise normal safety precautions' or 'Level 2 – exercise a high degree of caution.'
Executive Traveller understands that DFAT is now working through a 'risk assessment' of all countries to update its travel advice to align with the reopening of Australia's international border.
However, many countries are expected to remain at the current global 'Level 4 – do not travel' advisory or be nudged up to 'Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.'