Concerns for Australians travelling to South-East Asia

A joint survey by the Insurance Council of Australia’s Understand Insurance initiative and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller, has found many travellers to South-East Asia are complacent about their health and financial wellbeing.

Two-thirds of survey respondents who recently visited South-East Asia admitted to undertaking a risky activity or behaviour during their trip, and one in five said they didn’t declare a pre-existing medical condition before departure. The 2018 survey* found:

  • One in 10 Australians travelled to South-East Asia without travel insurance. Men and under 30s were the most likely to leave home without cover
  • 82 per cent of under 30s admitted to undertaking a risky behaviour
  • One in four Australians rode a motorbike or scooter during their trip. Of those with insurance, 58 per cent didn’t know if their policy covered this high-risk activity
  • More than 50 per cent of travellers didn’t know if their travel insurance policy covered their trip activities.

Lisa Kable, spokesperson for, says: “South-East Asian destinations including Bali, Vietnam and Thailand are popular with Australians.

Many travellers to these destinations will unwittingly void their travel insurance if the claim involves risky behaviours that include:

  • Drinking alcohol and being affected by it (48 per cent of travellers to Indonesia)
  • Engaging in a high-risk water sport (25 per cent of travellers)
  • Riding a motorbike or scooter (44 per cent of travellers to Vietnam)
  • Undertaking an adventure sport (14 per cent of travellers)
  • Riding a horse, camel or elephant (24 per cent of travellers to Thailand)
  • Taking illicit drugs

The insurance industry and Smartraveller are increasingly concerned for Australian travellers for three reasons:

First, 215,000 Australians travelled last year to SE Asia without insurance. Second, too many travellers with insurance aren’t aware of their policy inclusions and exclusions and how easily they can invalidate a claim. Third, many travellers fail to declare a pre-existing medical condition to their insurer.

The survey found one in five travellers didn’t check their policy covered their pre-existing medical condition, with 30-49 year olds the least likely to check.

It’s worth noting the Australian Government does not assist Australians overseas with any medical treatment or emergency travel home if something goes wrong, despite 25 per cent of travellers wrongly believing the government will assist.