Home » Alcohol and travel insurance

Alcohol and travel insurance

A recent survey has revealed that 70 per cent of Australian travellers are uncertain if their travel insurance will cover them if they have an accident overseas while intoxicated.

The survey comes after several Australian travellers had their travel insurance claims denied due to intoxication.

Camera IconThe Pile Gate at Dubrovnik, Croatia. Credit: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

The recent case which saw off-duty police officer Ella Cutler endure a disastrous fall during her holiday in Croatia made headline news here in Western Australian.

Ella Cutler suffered horrific injuries, including fractures to her head, spine, limbs and ribs when she fell from the Pile Gate in Dubrovnik. The fall resulted in over $400,000 worth of medical treatment and air ambulance fees but, even though she had travel insurance, her claim was denied because she was intoxicated when the accident happened.

She eventually returned home after her family raised the money via a GoFundMe page to cover the medical bills and air evacuation to get her home.

Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au who conducted the survey, says it is vital for travellers to understand any relevant clauses that could affect their claims.

WA police officer Ella Cutler was flown home to Perth on a Redstar Aviation Challenger 605 jet, in a precarious 24-hour journey from Dubrovnik to WA.
Camera IconWA police officer Ella Cutler was flown home to Perth on a Redstar Aviation Challenger 605 jet, in a precarious 24-hour journey from Dubrovnik to WA. Credit: Redstar Aviation/Redstar Aviation

“It’s devastating to hear of these accidents happening to Australians overseas. And shocking that our survey results show that so many Australians are unclear as to whether travel insurance covers you when you are intoxicated.”

Ball emphasises that insurers won’t deny a claim just because you have consumed alcohol, but insurers may deny claims that result from your judgment being impaired due to intoxication.

“It’s important for travellers to understand that having a glass of wine with dinner or a Pina Colada by the pool is unlikely to be seen in the same light as consuming seven beers or several cocktails. It is the intoxication levels that may have an impact on your cover.”

Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Camera IconDubrovnik, Croatia. Credit: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

How much is too much?

Several insurers provide specific blood alcohol levels at which they will restrict cover while others are more general in their definition.

However, if alcohol is found to be a contributing factor towards a claim, you may not be covered.

Ball says that exclusions and clauses surrounding alcohol consumption differ among insurers.

“The number of drinks you can safely consume is subjective due to factors such as the size of the pour, the percentage of alcohol, and your individual tolerance. Insurers usually consider your individual circumstances and whether alcohol is a contributing factor to the event. If alcohol is found to have impaired your judgment, coverage is likely to be impacted.”

“On the other hand, if you were intoxicated, but your blood alcohol levels were not found to contribute to your claim, you would likely be covered.”

Insurers have varying limits on what they deem acceptable. Some list a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at which they restrict cover. For instance, Cover-More, NRMA and Budget Direct define impairment at a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.19 per cent or above.

Ball says that while understanding these various exclusions may be helpful, the key thing to remember is common sense.

“Clearly, consuming alcohol can impair your judgment, increasing your susceptibility to risk. While a few drinks may not affect your claim in the event of a flight delay or cancellation due to weather, you may face denial of coverage in the event of a medical emergency if you were stumbling around drunk.”

Ella Cutler and her family met with the Commissioner yesterday and expressed their appreciation for the support shown by WA Police and the community of Western Australia.
Camera IconElla Cutler and her family met with the Commissioner yesterday and expressed their appreciation for the support shown by WA Police and the community of Western Australia. Credit: WA Police/WA Police

Useful tips for responsible alcohol consumption

Know your limits: Be mindful of your alcohol tolerance and understand the potential impact on your judgment.

Stay hydrated: Alternate alcoholic beverages with water or low-alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated and reduce the risk of overconsumption.

Plan your transport: Prearrange transportation or use rideshare services to ensure a safe journey back to accommodation.

Understand local laws: Familiarise yourself with local alcohol regulations and legal limits to avoid unintentional violations.