Schoolies Week is a rite of passage for Australian teenagers completing their final year of high school.
For thousands of Aussie teenagers, it means a week-long party with friends before they go on to further study, work or travel.
The most popular destinations for schoolies are coastal holiday hotspots like the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or Airlie Beach in Queensland. Others travel further afield to overseas destinations in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands or Europe for a holiday, or to volunteer for a cause they’re passionate about.
No matter where your child is heading to for schoolies week, it’s important to purchase travel insurance to ensure they have cover in place for unexpected emergencies.
There’s always risks to travelling, whether it’s domestically within Australia or overseas. So if your child is travelling this year for schoolies, it’s important to find a travel insurance policy which will provide cover for potential emergencies such as overseas injuries, overseas sicknesses, unexpected cancellations and lost or stolen luggage.
6 quick safety tips for schoolies kids
- Purchase travel insurance and make sure you understand what you are and aren’t covered for.
- Don’t take part in high-risk activities that travel insurance won’t provide cover for such as riding a motorbike or moped without a licence.
- Take care of your friends. Your health and wellbeing is priority number one!
- Keep emergency phone numbers on hand including for the police and ambulance, and your travel insurance provider.
- Never accept a drink offered by a stranger or drink from a glass that has been left unattended, just in case it’s been spiked.
- Know where you’re travelling and research your destination so you’re aware of any risks you might come across.
Why should I purchase travel insurance for schoolies week?
There are a few key travel insurance benefits for schoolies, such as:
Overseas emergency medical expenses
If your child travels overseas, there is the chance they can become injured or sick. Simply falling over can result in a broken bone and a hospital visit. There is also always the risk of eating a local meal and getting a stomach bug that results in severe dehydration, or coming down with a different illness.
Travel insurance can provide cover for the costs of consultations with doctors, hospitalisation and treatment costs, the cost of pharmaceuticals or surgery if it’s required, and even emergency repatriation if your child needs to return home to Australia for treatment.
Holidays aren’t cheap! Schoolies can involve booking plane tickets, hotels or backpackers accommodation, perhaps a tour or ticket to an event and even a rental car.
If they become sick or injured before travelling, or a natural disaster forces them to cancel their travel plans, it could mean you lose hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Luggage and personal belongings
No doubt when your child goes to schoolies they’ll take along their phone, maybe a camera or Gopro, and maybe even a laptop along with their clothes and baggage.
In all the excitement, there’s always the chance that these belongings become lost, stolen or damaged. Travel insurance can provide financial cover for your child’s belongings so that you don’t have to pay the whole amount for brand new items.
24-hour emergency assistance
If your child is sick or injured, travel insurance also includes access to a professional emergency assistance team to offer advice or assistance. The emergency assistance team can:
- Liaise with doctors and hospital staff
- Organise emergency transport
- Organise to have a translator available
- Contact family members at home
- Help arrange for parents to be with their travelling child in emergency situations
This is just naming a few ways the emergency assistance team can support your child when they travel.
To better understand the benefits included in a travel insurance policy, be sure to always read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).
Jessica’s schoolies medical emergency*
Jessica went to Bali with a couple of close friends for her week-long schoolies celebration.
She was on her way to a popular nightclub in Kuta when she slipped down a flight of stairs in the dark, fracturing her ankle. She was taken to hospital via an ambulance.
Because Jessica hadn’t been drinking alcohol or acting irresponsibly when the accident happened, her travel insurer covered the costs of the ambulance, her stay in hospital and medical expenses, which totalled over $2,000 AUD.
Should I purchase travel insurance for an Australian schoolies holiday?
Even though teens are still covered by Medicare or private health insurance within Australia, domestic travel insurance policies can provide cover for a variety of unexpected situations.
Examples of the benefits you can find include cover for:
Covers the costs of flights and pre-booked hotels or backpacker accommodation if your child becomes sick or injured and can’t go to schoolies, or a relative unexpectedly becomes sick or injured and your child has to stay home.
Luggage and personal affects
This includes cover for mobile phones, laptops, clothes, cameras and belongings if they are lost, stolen or damaged.
Travel delays expenses
So that your child has cover for the food and other costs that come with a flight delay due to a natural disaster or other unforeseen event. This benefit is only covered under Comprehensive policies.
Alternative transport expenses
If your child has other events they have to attend back home, such as a wedding or funeral, and their planned transport is delayed, this benefit allows them to arrange an alternative way of getting home on time. This benefit is only covered under Comprehensive policies.
This benefit provides cover for the costs incurred if your child damages property, or accidentally injures someone else.
If your child is heading to the Gold Coast to celebrate with thousands of other Australian teenagers, it is well worth considering purchasing a travel insurance policy so that they’re covered.
Damien’s Gold Coast Schoolies story*
Damien planned months in advance to go to the Gold Coast with his closest mates for schoolies week. He had a hotel and flights pre-booked, and needless to say was excited to celebrate and party with his friends.
The week before his planned flight out of Sydney, he was in a car accident and suffered a broken leg. He couldn’t go to the Gold Coast which was hugely disappointing, but at least he had travel insurance in place so that he could be reimbursed for the costs of the flights and accommodation, and maybe put it towards a holiday later on!
What doesn’t domestic travel insurance provide cover for?
Travel insurance policies for travel in Australia are different in the benefits they provide.
The following benefits which can apply to overseas travel insurance policies may not apply to domestic travel insurance policies:
Because your child is travelling in Australia, they will be covered for medical emergencies by Medicare and any private health cover in place.
Your passport isn’t required for travelling domestically, so the costs of a lost, stolen or damaged passport won’t be covered.
Theft of cash
This may not be covered by your insurer if you’re simply travelling in Australia.
Note that cover may also differ depending on the type of policy purchased, such as Comprehensive, Standard or Basic (Medical Only).
Always read the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement to understand which benefits are included and excluded in each travel insurance policy.
What exclusions are there to Schoolies travel insurance?
There are a few common exclusions to travel insurance that it’s important to be aware of, and to discuss with your child before they go to schoolies. These are instances where your child may not be covered if they become sick or injured, regardless of having travel insurance in place.
If they are intoxicated or have taken illicit drugs
If your child becomes injured or is taken to hospital as a direct result of being intoxicated or under the influence of illicit drugs, they will generally not have cover for related medical expenses.
Partaking in a high-risk activity
You can be covered for a range of activities, from skydiving to scuba diving, however not all activities are covered in your travel insurance automatically. In some cases, activities are excluded, and in others you can purchase additional cover for activities that involve some extra risks.
Check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand what activities can be covered. If your child does any activities at schoolies that aren’t covered by their policy, such as unlicensed moped riding or scuba diving without an instructor, they won’t have cover for any related overseas medical expenses.
Injuries that occur from illegal activity
Kids going to Bali for schoolies might be tempted to ride a motorcycle or moped around. But if they don’t have the appropriate licenses for riding in Bali, they are acting illegally and any injury they sustain will not be covered by their insurance policy.
Luggage that isn’t supervised in a public space isn’t covered
If your child leaves their belongings on a beach and goes for a swim and comes back to find their bag stolen, it’s most likely not going to be covered by their travel insurance. Belongings that are left for the taking by opportunistic thieves aren’t going to be covered by insurance, so be sure to take precautions.
Keep belongings locked up where possible, and never leave them unsupervised in public places.
Some pre-existing medical conditions
Travel insurers may have a list of common pre-existing medical conditions that they automatically provide cover for such as asthma, diabetes, food intolerances, or coeliac disease. This means if an emergency does occur relating to these conditions, your child will be covered for the overseas medical expenses.
However, some pre-existing medical conditions are not automatically covered by travel insurance, such as heart conditions. If your child has a pre-existing medical condition, check the Product Disclosure Statement to find out if it’s something that can be covered or not.
Safe Schoolies Travels
Schoolies is a time to celebrate and enjoy a holiday with friends, whether in Australia or overseas. But whenever you travel you face the chance of running into trouble or unexpected expenses.
For example, having to cancel your flight because of a volcanic ash cloud in Bali, or a tropical cyclone in north Queensland. Your health is also at risk when you travel to new destinations. If you get sick you may have to pay for a visit to the doctor, a trip to the hospital, or even an emergency evacuation home to Australia.
Before travelling, consider having insurance cover in place for schoolies week.
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*Stories are fictitious examples drawn from the experiences of Fast Cover travellers and staff. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.