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Sunday, 14 September 2008

New research finds travel insurance boosts traveller confidence

Australians planning to travel overseas in the next 12 months are more mindful than ever of financially protecting themselves, with 56 percent more likely to take out travel insurance because of the volatile economy.

The American Express Platinum Card Travel Trends Survey* polled 1000 people aged 18 years and over across the country to gauge travel intentions in the current economic climate. It was conducted to mark the American Express Platinum Card's 10th birthday in Australia.

Commenting on the survey, Luisa Megale, Vice President of Public Affairs for American Express says, "In light of economic conditions as well as unfortunate recent events in popular overseas travel destinations, it's not surprising that people's confidence in overseas travel as been dealt a blow and that travel insurance is now viewed by the majority as an essential travel requirement."

In addition, the research revealed that having travel insurance makes travellers more definite about their travel plans, with those who are more likely to take out travel insurance, more certain of a trip abroad in the next 12 months.

"Australians love overseas adventure, but now more than ever they appreciate the importance of travel insurance and the financial piece of mind it brings. These are uncertain economic times and people are feeling the pinch. Insurance is essential. If an incident was to occur overseas and a traveller wasn't insured, it may now be more financially difficult for them to cover the expense," says Ms Megale.

·While the majority of Australian travellers acknowledge the importance of travel insurance in these uncertain times, the survey reveals that one in ten wouldn't bother with it, and of this group men (51%) are significantly more likely than women (27%) to say "I don't think I'll need it."

Top reasons people choose to travel without travel insurance:

When asked why they would travel without travel insurance in today's climate, the top five responses people gave are:

· It's too expensive – 62 percent
· I don't think I'll need it – 41 percent
· I've never thought about travel insurance – 13 percent
· I'm only intending a short trip – 17 percent
· I don't know anything about travel insurance – 17 percent

"Not taking out travel insurance as a cost-saving strategy is not one we'd recommend," comments Ms Megale. "The potential expense of travel misfortunes cannot be underestimated and are often significantly more than the cost of taking out travel insurance."

Highlighting the importance of travel insurance, the survey reveals that 8.6 million Australians have suffered a misfortune while travelling.

Top travel mishaps:

The most common travel mishaps cited by those surveyed are lost or delayed luggage (31%) and delayed or cancelled flights (31%). Getting sick or injured and requiring medical attention also rates high (17%), while having money lost or stolen comes in fourth (11%).

Cards that cover:

"Many people don't realise that they may already have some form of travel insurance, despite never signing a separate policy, says Ms Megale. There are many financial providers, including American Express, that offer travel insurance as one of the 'built-in' features of their credit and charge cards.

Philip Macleod is one such Card member who knows the value of his Card's insurance. "In 2008 I arrived in Frankfurt on a business trip to discover my luggage hadn't been transferred and all I had were the clothes on my back, recalls Mr Macleod. "With an important business meeting scheduled for the next day, I had no choice but to purchase emergency clothes and toiletries. On the very same trip, I arrived in Bangkok to discover once again my luggage had failed to arrive and I was forced to go on another emergency shopping trip. Finally, when my original luggage caught up with me, I had no choice but to purchase additional luggage to carry the extra clothes home to Australia! The best thing was that as an American Express Platinum Card member, the cost of the emergency clothing and extra luggage were all covered under my Platinum travel insurance."

The Platinum Card is a charge card that encourages sensible financial management. Unlike a credit card, cardholders are required to pay the balance in full every month.

Concludes Ms Megale, "The American Express Platinum Card is celebrating its 10th birthday and over that decade we've seen that things can and do go wrong on holidays which is why insurance is one of its most valued features. Now more than ever people should avoid taking financial risks and I'd encourage them to consider a card that has travel insurance included as a benefit."

* The national online survey was conducted by arnold&bolingbroke. It polled 1001 Australians.

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