Review: NIB travel insurance

With NIB the familiar underwriter of Qantas health insurance, how does NIB stand on its own when it comes to travel insurance?

By Chris Chamberlin, September 3 2020
NIB travel insurance
Notes
The Good
  • Simple choice between basic and comprehensive cover on single-trip policies
The Bad
  • Some payout limits lower than other insurers, such as for TPD and returning home early
X-Factor
  • One of the few insurers to cover airline bankruptcy and other travel provider insolvency

Introduction

When it comes time to travel again, NIB travel insurance offers jetsetters a choice between basic and more comprehensive cover on both domestic and international journeys, as well as having an annual multi-trip plan for frequent flyers.

Like many insurers, NIB has temporarily paused the sale of new travel insurance plans due to the broad impact of COVID-19, but here's how NIB normally stacks up, for when travel resumes.

NIB travel insurance plans

NIB keeps things straightforward by offering the choice between a basic-type plan and a more comprehensive insurance policy for both domestic and international flyers.

In addition, a single Annual Multi Trip policy covers both domestic and international flying.

Annual Multi Trip Plan

NIB's Annual Multi Trip Plan covers both domestic and international travellers on journeys of up to 45 days each, occurring throughout the year-long validity of the policy.

Just be mindful that under the Multi Trip Plan, coverage doesn't cover trips close to home: you need to be travelling to a destination at least 200km from your house, and use either "pre-paid scheduled public transport" or a hire car.

This means if you drive your own car to your destination, or you're staying not far from home – somebody in Brisbane driving to the Gold Coast for a holiday, for example – there's no cover.

International travel insurance: Comprehensive Plan

For less frequent travellers, NIB's Comprehensive Plan offers a similar level of cover as that overarching Annual Multi Trip Plan, but for a single trip only.

The duration of cover on this, and all other NIB policies listed below, is nominated by the traveller at the time of purchase.

International travel insurance: Essentials Plan

When you're looking for a good baseline of cover (such as unlimited cover for eligible medical expenses) but don't need extras like a payout for loss of income or total permanent disability, NIB's Essentials Plan strikes a balance between value and cost.

As well, many types of claims have lower payout limits when compared with the Comprehensive Plan – such as for rental vehicle insurance excess, where the Comprehensive Plan covers up to $5,000, and the Essentials Plan covers up to $2,000.

Domestic travel insurance: Australian Travel Plan (ATP)

For coverage on a single domestic trip within Australia, NIB's Australian Travel Plan (ATP) offers a relatively comprehensive range of features.

Of course, medical expenses within Australia aren't covered, as those are matters for Medicare or a separate private health insurance policy.

Domestic travel insurance: Cancellation and Additional Expenses Plan (CAEP)

For bare-bones cover at the lowest possible price, NIB's Cancellation and Additional Expenses Plan (CAEP) offers just that.

There's cover against unforeseen journey cancellation and some out-of-pocket costs, as well as extra travel cover such as emergency expenses to avoid a disaster, and an early return home.

Other features like rental car excess cover, lost luggage protection, travel delay payouts and more aren't covered, however.

What does NIB travel insurance cover?

What exactly you're covered for – and how much coverage you get – will depend upon the NIB travel insurance plan and policy chosen, as well as the type of claim.

Here's what NIB's policies cover as a baseline across a range of popular claims.

NIB medical cover

When unexpected medical expenses are incurred during a journey, NIB may cover these up to the limits below. All figures here and elsewhere in this review are based on a single adult traveller.

Medical claims

Annual Multi-Trip & Int'l Comprehensive

Int'l Essentials Plan

Domestic (ATP)

Domestic (CAEP)

Medical expenses overseas, including hospital admission

Unlimited

Unlimited

Not applicable

Not applicable

Hospital allowance (after 48 continuous hours)

$50 per 24hrs, up to $8,000 total

$50 per 24hrs, up to $5,000 total

Not applicable

Not applicable

Total permanent disability

$12,500

No cover

No cover

No cover

Accidental death

$25,000

$10,000

$10,000

No cover

Coverage for some pre-existing medical conditions may be available, subject to approval by NIB and the payment of an additional premium.

For full details, including information about any important exclusions and conditions as may apply, refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, or speak with the insurer.

NIB delay, cancellation and inconvenience cover

Whether your flight is delayed or your journey is otherwise inconvenienced, NIB may cover eligible out-of-pocket expenses up to the limits below.

Inconvenience and cancellation

Annual Multi-Trip & Int'l Comprehensive

Int'l Essentials Plan

Domestic (ATP)

Domestic (CAEP)

Travel delay expenses

 Up to $250 per 24hrs, up to $2,000 maximum

Up to $250 per 24hrs, up to $1,000 maximum

Up to $250 per 24hrs, up to $500 maximum

No cover

Trip cancelled due to unforeseen events outside your control

Subject to options chosen when purchasing policy

Subject to options chosen when purchasing policy

Subject to options chosen when purchasing policy

Subject to options chosen when purchasing policy

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

$2,000

No cover

$2,000

No cover

Financial default of travel providers

$10,000

$3,500

$5,000

No cover

Because NIB allows customers to choose their level of cancellation cover when purchasing a new policy, it's difficult to compare NIB with other insurers in this regard, as policy prices will always vary, and will be affected by changes to the amount the traveller nominates.

Note that alternative transport expenses as listed above fall under the "missed connection - special events" section of NIB's eligible travel insurance policies.

Eligible events where alternative transport expenses may be able to be claimed include when travelling to a wedding, funeral, conference, 25th or 50th wedding anniversary, a concert or a ticketed event which cannot be delayed due to your late arrival.

NIB luggage and property cover

In the event your luggage is delayed arriving at your destination or disappears entirely, NIB may pay eligible claims up to the limits below.

Property

Annual Multi-Trip & Int'l Comprehensive

Int'l Essentials Plan

Domestic (ATP)

Domestic (CAEP)

Loss, theft, accidental damage to luggage and personal effects

$12,000

$5,000

$4,000

No cover

Essential expenses when your luggage is delayed by more than 10 hours

$500

$200

$500

No cover

Theft of cash

$250

No cover

No cover

No cover

Per-item limits may apply to some claims, and in the event of theft, this must be reported to police within 12 hours of becoming aware of the loss, and a written police report must be obtained.

NIB liability cover

Whether it's damage to your rental car or injury to others, here are NIB's limits on liability.

Legal

Annual Multi-Trip & Int'l Comprehensive

Int'l Essentials Plan

Domestic (ATP)

Domestic (CAEP)

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

$2.5 million

$1 million

$300,000

No cover

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

$5,000

$2,000

$5,000

No cover

As we regularly remind, cover against rental vehicle 'excess' isn't blanket insurance coverage when renting a car: it merely complements another insurance policy, in the event that you need to make a claim under that other policy.

For example, many car hire operators offer a standard insurance policy by default, and in the event of a claim, a hefty excess may be payable. It's that excess that travel insurance policies would typically cover against.

In countries where no excess applies – and you're either covered, or you're not – travel insurance that provides cover only against an 'excess' amount likely wouldn't provide any coverage at all.

NIB cover for unexpected travel

If you need to return home earlier than planned, or later want to resume that trip, here's what NIB may cover, depending on the policy chosen. 

Additional travel

Annual Multi-Trip & Int'l Comprehensive

Int'l Essentials Plan

Domestic (ATP)

Domestic (CAEP)

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

$2,000

$2,000

$2,000

$2,000

Resuming your trip after returning home, within 6 months, subject to approval

$3,000

No cover

No cover

No cover

While it's great to see NIB offering cover across the board when a trip needs to be cut short, the maximum claim amounts at this section are significantly lower than many of NIB's competitors.

For example, Allianz offers cover for up to $50,000 on its own Annual Multi Trip and Comprehensive policies versus just $2,000 at NIB, and Allianz's domestic policies also include resumption of journey costs up to $3,000, whereas NIB offers no cover.

Additionally, Allianz provides for a resumption of journey for up to 12 months after returning home, whereas NIB only permits this within six months.

Read: Allianz travel insurance review

NIB travel insurance claim excess

Many claims are subject to an excess: this is either an amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurer then pays out the balance of your claim, or much more commonly, is the amount withheld from any such payout.

For example, if your policy comes with a $200 excess, and you submit a $500 claim of a type that's subject to the excess, the most the insurer will cover is $300.

It may be possible to have no excess on the policy by choosing this option when purchasing cover, but this usually results in an increased policy price.

NIB key exclusions

All insurance policies come with exclusions, and those from NIB are no exception.

Among NIB's list of exclusions, there's no cover for events that happen when the insured traveller is "intoxicated by or is addicted to alcohol" – which could leave the door open for a claim to be denied if the traveller is typically a heavy drinker, even if they haven't consumed any alcohol immediately prior to a claim event.

"Travel in international waters in a private sail vessel" is also not covered, nor are travellers who participate "in activities on snow or ice", except those specifically defined as 'snow sports' when the appropriate level of cover has been purchased.

NIB coronavirus cover

NIB advises that "there is no cover under any section of this policy for any claim arising directly or indirectly because of ... a loss caused by, or in any way connected with, an epidemic or pandemic," including COVID-19, as has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

As well, there's no cover for those who are "travelling or planning to travel to a country or region that is the subject of a 'Do not travel' warning issued by the Australian Government."

Of course, at the time of publishing, the Australian Government's travel advice level for every country in the world stands at 'do not travel'.

NIB travel insurance: the verdict

With a range of travel insurance plans to choose from and a simplified choice between a basic or high level of cover for each journey type, NIB may be appealing to those who want more choice over their cover and policy price.

As well, many insurers don't cover the "financial default of travel providers" – such as airline bankruptcy – while NIB does cover this on eligible policies.

Of course, with new policies currently suspended from sale, and existing policies of little use given the broad restrictions on claims relating to epidemics, pandemics and 'do not travel' destinations, it'll be a while before NIB's travel insurance cover will again prove useful.

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.

15 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

Regards the rental car coverage there are also exclusions such as windscreens, undercarriage, single vehicle accidents such as hitting a pole, tyres and overhead damage that I dare say would not be covered by simple travel insurance. Always double check!


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