Insurance warning on Schoolies

SCHOOLIES and offshore party-goers are at risk of having insurance claims rejected if they mix drugs, alcohol and dangerous activities, Travel Insurance has warned.

With end-of-year celebrations approaching, Travel Insurance Direct spokesman Phil Sylvester said injuries at full-moon parties and schoolies celebrations were an increasing concern, yet many travellers were unaware they compounded the risks by acting outside the cover of their insurance.

“Party destinations in countries like Thailand and Bali are increasing in popularity, but revelers need to be aware that drugs, excessive alcohol and dangerous behavior are all legitimate grounds for an insurer to reject a claim,” Mr Sylvester said.

“Travel insurance is essential to get you out of trouble if the worst happens, but it’s important to remember you still need to act responsibly and within the bounds of local laws.”

In Thailand, parties in beach destinations like Ko Phangan have become popular for schoolies, along with mega-clubs in Bangkok.  Bali attracts schoolies to clubs and raves in Seminyak, Legian and Kuta, while emerging party scenes are growing in destinations like Nha Trang in Vietnam and Vang Vieng in Laos.  

Mr Sylvester said it had become common for riverside bar owners in Vang Vieng to offer free whiskey shots or cannabis as an enticement to travellers who came for the region’s river-tubing.  Injuries were common and deaths had been reported among those who combined drugs and alcohol with activities like tubing, swing ropes and zip lines on the Nam Song river.

“If excessive drinking or drug-taking contributes to a predicament, you could have more than a monster hangover to deal with the next morning,” Mr Sylvester said. 

“Travel insurance is not a licence to behave stupidly, you still need to take responsibility for your own safety.”

While alcohol itself may not automatically jeopardise insurance cover, excessive or over-the-limit consumption could give insurers grounds to refuse a claim if it was deemed to be a factor, Mr Sylvester said.

As well as the potential for injuries, travellers also needed to be aware of the risk of theft.  Hostels in Koh Phangan were commonly robbed while guests were at beach parties, Mr Sylvester said, a trend that seemed to be spreading in other parts of Asia.

“Secure any valuables, especially important things like passports and flight tickets,” he said. “It might be tempting to take your camera or phone to record the moment, but the gangs of thieves know you’ll be off-guard and not paying attention to your possessions.”

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