Extra heartache for Bali moped victim
ASHLEY Hickman bought travel insurance before his buck's trip to Bali. But as the groom-to-be fights for his life after a moped accident, that insurance policy is pointless.
The Cairns man, 32, remains in intensive care with a fractured skull from the horror accident - which happened days before he was due to marry his fiancee - while his family scrambles to find money to cover his escalating medical bills, which have so far exceeded $50,000.
While Mr Hickman was insured - and wearing a helmet at the time of the accident - his insurance company won't cover him because he rode the moped without having an international driver's licence.
Natalie Ball, the director of comparetravelinsurance.com.au, said it was important Australians in Bali understood not all insurers automatically covered the use of a scooter, motorcycle or moped in Bali, and there were strict requirements for those who did.
"Very often, you would require an Australian motorbike licence in order to ride a bike over a certain engine size as well as an international driving permit," Ms Ball said.
"You must also wear a helmet at all times. Neglecting to do so would automatically void your insurance and land you with a hefty fine from the authorities."
Mr Hickman's family have set up a fundraising page to cover his medical costs. His friends had to help pay a bill of $30,000 on the spot after doctors performed lifesaving surgery on Mr Hickman to relieve pressure on his brain.
Mr Hickman joins a long list of Australian tourists who have been killed or seriously injured in road accidents in Bali.
While there is no suggestion Mr Hickman was riding dangerously, riding a moped without a valid licence would be considered reckless behaviour by insurers, who strictly prohibit it.
"From a travel insurance perspective, you are very unlikely to be covered for deliberately putting yourself in positions of danger," Ms Ball said.
"It's your responsibility to act wisely and take all required safety precautions when travelling overseas.
"Ashley's heartbreaking story should resonate with travellers. Many Aussies are guilty of throwing caution to the wind while on holiday. Young Australians should carefully consider the repercussions of their actions when engaging in risky behaviour abroad."
Riding mopeds is not the only popular holiday activity that could void a travel insurance policy.
Recent Canstar.com.au research into Australia's favourite holiday activities found many of them could actually leave covered travellers high and dry.
The top result, drinking alcohol (63 per cent), could be an issue as many policies carried an alcohol exclusion cause - which meant if alcohol was deemed to be a factor in the incident prompting a claim, it would generally be denied.
Snowsports, scuba diving, skydiving and bridge jumping also made it into the top 10 most popular holiday pastimes and would also not be automatically covered.
"These adventurous Aussies may be putting themselves at risk, not only physically but also financially," Canstar insurance expert Steve Mickenbecker said.
"Aussies will find that most travel insurance policies will likely not cover extreme activities like bridge jumping. Even with activities like skiing and scuba diving, travellers should check their cover as these activities may only be covered as an optional extra.
"Close two one in five young people take the opportunity to hire a motorised scooter, though being unlicensed they may not be covered in the event of an accident."
Ms Ball from comparetravelinsurance.com.au said travellers should make sure they were across any exclusions or catches in their insurance policy.
"Without understanding the terms of your policy, you simply won't know where you can and can't claim," she said.
"Discuss any important exclusions with your insurer and ensure you carry a valid licence for any vehicle you choose to ride. Always prioritise your safety and remember to pack travel insurance for all overseas trips."