Review: RACV travel insurance

As Australia starts re-opening to Victorians, it pays to know what your travel insurance covers – and, what it doesn't.

By Chris Chamberlin, November 24 2020
RACV travel insurance
Notes
The Good
  • Three tiers of international cover, and three tiers for domestic flyers
The Bad
  • No cover for "do not travel" destinations, which is currently every country
X-Factor
  • Save with an annual multi-trip policy, which also has the highest level of cover

Introduction

RACV is a brand that most Victorians recognise – but as well as being an auto club, one of the organisation's other services is travel insurance.

Underwritten by Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Ltd, but sold under the RACV banner, this travel insurance covers a range of scenarios, and as always, comes with various exclusions.

Although RACV has temporarily paused the sale of new insurance policies while various domestic and international travel restrictions remain in place, here's what you need to know about RACV's policies for when they return.

For those who already have RACV travel insurance, coverage remains as per your existing policy.

RACV travel insurance plans

Across its list of domestic, international and multi-trip policies, RACV gives travellers a choice between seven policy types overall.

Within that umbrella of insurance, international flyers can select from four policies, and domestic travellers can also choose from four policies, including the Annual Multi-Trip plan in both scenarios.

RACV international travel insurance plans

For coverage on a single overseas trip, RACV offers three plans.

RACV Total Travel Care is the highest-tiered offering, followed by the mid-tier RACV Extra Travel Care option, and then RACV Travel Care for baseline coverage.

RACV Annual Multi-Trip plan

For those making multiple trips over a 12-month period, RACV's Annual Multi-Trip plan could be more economical over a year-long period versus buying a separate policy for each trip.

Under this option, you can choose to be covered for trips of up to 30 days, up to 45 days, or up to 60 days. The number of trips you can take during the period of insurance is unlimited.

RACV domestic travel insurance plans

Similar to the multiple levels of coverage available for a one-off international trip, domestic jaunts can also be protected with varying degrees of insurance.

RACV Domestic is the standard level of cover, with RACV Domestic Cancellation offering a pared back insurance package with limited scope, and RACV Rental Car Excess is primarily for those planning to hire a car, without the need for other types of coverage, such as flights.

What does RACV travel insurance cover?

As you'd expect with RACV's tiered approach to insurance, exactly what each traveller is covered for – and to what extent – will depend on the particular plan they select.

Beyond the standard level of coverage available via each path, some travellers may be able to purchase an add-on for snow sports cover, at an additional charge.

Here's an outline of what's typically covered under RACV's travel insurance policies, based on insuring one adult traveller.

Do note, due to the significantly limited scope of cover offered under the RACV Domestic Cancellation and RACV Rental Car Excess plans, these policies are only indicated below where such benefits apply.

The "Domestic" heading refers to the domestic insurance plan of the same name, rather than the three domestic-only policies as a group.

RACV medical cover

If you're injured on your trip or develop an illness, here's what RACV can pay out for medical claims, depending on your policy type.

Medical claims

Total Travel Care,
Annual Multi-Trip

Extra Travel Care

Travel Care

Domestic

Medical expenses overseas, including hospital admission

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Not applicable

Emergency expenses

Unlimited

$25,000

$5,000

$25,000

Cash in hospital

$6,000

$3,500

$1,500

No cover

Accidental disability (e.g. loss of sight or limb)

$25,000

$15,000

No cover

$25,000

Accidental death

$25,000

$15,000

No cover

$25,000

To remind, the RACV Domestic Cancellation and RACV Rental Car Excess plans are not listed in this section, as they offer no benefits other than those included within the name.

As applies to all sections of this review, for further information on claim requirements, limits, conditions regarding pre-existing conditions and more, refer to the policy documents or pose your questions directly to the insurer.

Be aware that while 'unlimited' medical expenses overseas may be covered, this only applies when you contact RACV as soon as possible after being hospitalised.

If you don't contact RACV, then the insurer "will not pay for any expenses or for any evacuation/repatriation or airfares that have not been approved or arranged by us."

As well, if you're being treated as an outpatient and your total costs will exceed $2,000, you must also seek RACV's approval before going ahead.

RACV delay, cancellation and inconvenience cover

Nobody likes hearing that their flight is delayed – or worse, cancelled – but if your journey does suffer a disruption, you may be covered for certain out-of-pocket expenses up to the following policy limits:

Inconvenience and cancellation

Total Travel Care,
Annual Multi-Trip

Extra Travel Care

Travel Care

Domestic /
Domestic Cancellation

Travel delay (min. six hours)

Up to $500 per day, up to $3,000 total

Up to $250 per day, up to $1,500 total

No cover

Up to $250 per day, up to $1,500 total / No cover

Trip cancellation due to unforeseeable events outside your control

Unlimited

$25,000

No cover

Unlimited / $1,000

When it comes to travel delays, RACV considers claims for additional accommodation expenses, as well as for meals and travelling expenses where necessary, as part of the same delay.

Note that limits apply both per day, and in total per trip. For example, on a Total Travel Care plan, expenses are capped at $500 per day, and $3,000 total.

As we've included the Domestic Cancellation plan in the table above, do note that there's no cover for travel delays under that policy: only under 'Domestic'.

RACV luggage and property cover

If some of your items don't return home with you, or your entire suitcase goes astray, here are RACV's limits for claims covering personal effects.

Property

Total Travel Care,
Annual Multi-Trip

Extra Travel Care

Travel Care

Domestic

Loss, theft or accidental damage to luggage and personal effects

$15,000

$7,500

$2,000

$7,500

Essential expenses after temporarily delayed luggage

$750

$500

No cover

$500

There are limits that apply to claims for specific items: you'll find the full details in the policy documents.

Having said that, in the case of delayed or 'mishandled' baggage which is not deemed 'lost', claims for essential expenses are only considered once the bag has been delayed by at least 10 hours, under these policies.

RACV liability cover

In the rare event your journey sees you liable to another person or business, such as for property damage or a crashed hire car, RACV may cover you up to the limits below.

Legal

Total Travel Care,
Annual Multi-Trip

Extra Travel Care

Travel Care

Domestic /
Rental Car Excess

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

$10 million

$10 million

$10 million

$10 million / no cover

Rental vehicle insurance excess, if you have an accident in a hire car

$8,000

$4,000

No cover

$10 million / cover chosen

As is common of most travel insurers, be mindful that rental vehicle "excess" cover is exactly that: coverage towards an excess that may be payable under another policy, not blanket insurance in its own right.

For holders of the Total Travel Care and Annual Multi-Trip policies, the excess coverage amount is on the higher side, versus what many other insurers offer.

Some countries may not adopt the concept of an excess, in which case, as there's no 'excess' to claim for, the coverage would not be valid.

RACV cover for unexpected travel

Whether it's a flight to get you home after a medical incident or a flight back to your holiday spot after an unexpected early return home, here's what you may be covered for under RACV:

Additional travel

Total Travel Care,
Annual Multi-Trip

Extra Travel Care

Travel Care

Domestic

Repatriation to Australia following an illness or injury

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Not applicable

Resuming your trip after returning to Australia, where permitted

$5,000

$1,500

No cover

No cover

Coverage for repatriation to Australia where necessary comes under the 'overseas medical and hospital' coverage category. This means you'll need to call RACV before making such plans, to get those expenses authorised.

If you do return home early, depending on the length of your policy, and how long you would have had left on your journey, you may be eligible for flights back to that holiday spot, to get your holiday back on track. As always though, check the policy documents.

RACV cover for snow sports

Depending on the base travel insurance policy you purchase, you may be able to add coverage for snow sports at an extra cost.

When that pack is purchased, as well as medical cover during snow sports activities, here's what else RACV may insure against:

Snow sports (when snow sports cover purchased)

Total Travel Care,
Annual Multi-Trip

Extra Travel Care

Travel Care

Domestic

Piste closure due to adverse snow conditions

$1,000

$500

Cannot purchase pack

No cover

Snow skiing pre-paid costs, if unable to ski due to illness or injury

$1,000

$500

Cannot purchase pack

$500

Hire costs for replacement ski equipment after accidental damage, theft, loss or misdirection

$2,000

$1,000

Cannot purchase pack

$2,000

Loss or theft of a lift pass

$500

$250

Cannot purchase pack

$250

As you'll see above, international travellers with the RACV Travel Car plan cannot purchase the snow add-on, and nor can those with the RACV Domestic Cancellation and RACV Rental Car Excess plans.

If this add-on isn't purchased and you participate in snow sports anyway, you may not be eligible to claim under coverage categories that would ordinarily apply under your policy, such as for medical expenses due to a snow sports injury.

This pack is sold as "Ski and Winter Sports Cover", so if you're merely visiting a destination where it happens to be snowing, such as a city during winter, the pack would generally not be necessary unless you were participating in sporting activity (but as always, check the policy documents).

RACV travel insurance claim excess

Although some types of claims are processed without an excess being payable, some claims, such as for medical expenses, may have an excess attached.

RACV's default excess is $250 on international travel insurance, which can be reduced to $100 or $0 in exchange for a higher up-front premium when the policy is purchased.

On domestic-only policies, the standard excess is instead $100, which can be again be lowered to $0 when a higher premium is paid.

In most cases, the excess amount is simply deducted from any payout you may receive from the insurer in the event of a successful claim.

For example, if you had a claim approved for $1,000, and your policy had the standard $250 excess, you'd be paid $750.

RACV key exclusions

RACV's detailed policy documents give a complete outline of what is and isn't covered under the company's insurance plans, but there are some notable exclusions you should be aware of.

Firstly, any claims that arise from you being "under the influence (of) intoxicating liquor" will not be paid.

These could be anything from an injury that occurs while you've been drinking, or a lost wallet after a night on the town.

As well, expenses that can be recovered from other sources – such as from the airline, in the event of a delayed flight where hotels and/or meals were provided – will also not be covered.

RACV coronavirus cover

As is standard of many insurers, there's no cover if you venture to a destination zoned as "do not travel" by the Australian Government.

However, as the entire world is currently designated as such, this means there's no coverage for international travellers whatsoever: likely one of the reasons RACV has temporarily suspended new insurance sales.

Although there is no specific exclusion for claims relating to an "epidemic" or a "pandemic", the blanket exclusion for "do not travel" destinations will ultimately prevent most claims relating to COVID-19 from being paid.

For a full list of exclusions, and the complete wording surrounding the exclusions highlighted above, be sure to browse RACV's Combined Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement.

RACV claim process

Depending on the nature of your claim, it may be possible to simply incur the relevant expenses yourself during your travels, and submit those receipts as part of a claim filed when you get home, together with other supporting documents.

However, as above, if you're hospitalised, or if you're an outpatient and your treatment costs will exceed $2,000, you need to call RACV "as soon as possible" to ensure your claim will be paid.

Calling RACV may also save money, as the insurer can provide details of any available reciprocal healthcare arrangements that may reduce the cost of your treatment or even make it free-of-charge, which could avoid the need to deal with any insurance claim.

If you do need to claim, be sure to have your receipts ready in a common digital format (such as in PDF or JPG form).

You may also be asked to provide a copy of your travel itinerary, and/or your airline boarding passes for proof of travel and of your travel dates, so don't discard your boarding passes until after you've returned home.

In fact, whenever you do fly, get into the habit of snapping a quick photo of each boarding pass, or taking a screenshot if you're using a mobile boarding pass.

Not only will this come in handy in the event of an insurance claim (particularly if you've misplaced that boarding pass after the flight), but will also help if you need to manually submit a claim for any missing frequent flyer points, if your rewards don't arrive.

Tips for a speedy RACV travel insurance claim

As well as receipts for each expense, if those expenses were paid by credit card or debit card, you may be asked to produce a copy of the credit card statement – or a transaction record from Internet banking – as part of the verification process.

You may also be asked to do this to show how your trip (including your flights and hotels) were originally purchased.

Where frequent flyer points or other loyalty points have been used to book a journey, and those points cannot be recovered by way of cancellation, you may be reimbursed the cash equivalent of a flight in the same class of travel, on claims covered by the policy.

RACV travel insurance: the verdict

On the whole, RACV travel insurance offers quite reasonable coverage on the most common types of travel insurance claims, and in many other categories, too.

Having said that, the standard excess of $250 is a little higher than the default $200 excess provided by other insurers.

This means that in the event of a claim, your losses may be $50 higher per claim than had you chosen another insurer – although policy prices should also be compared, to determine any true savings or costs.

However, the blanket ban on coverage for countries and territories marked as "do not travel" does make RACV travel insurance unusable for international travellers for the time being.

Some insurers like Covermore have removed the "do not travel" exclusion, recognising that Australians who have been granted a 'travel exemption' can still travel overseas, and thus, by removing that clause, allows them to be covered.

Also read: Zoom 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 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.


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