The Great Wall, terracotta warriors, Kung-Fu, pandas… China offers new adventures around every corner. China, or the Middle Kingdom as it has been known for centuries, is a feast for the senses. Stunning landscapes and remote villages contrast vividly with the hectic sights and pace of neon cities.
It’s no wonder hundreds of thousands of Australians travel to China each year; in fact, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 456,000 Australians visited there in 2016/17. If you’re planning on being one of them, then you can find out all you’ll need to know about travel insurance for China in this article.
But first, here are some facts about China:
The table below shows a snapshot of the travel insurance products on offer for China, with links directly to provider’s websites. These results are based on a couple travelling to China who are under 70 years old.
Travel insurance for China
Accidents are always on the cards anywhere you go. When you’re away from home, in a non-English speaking country, stress can escalate quickly in the event of accident or illness. It’s essential to have the backup support of a good travel insurance policy you can rely on if needed.
Some of the reasons you might need travel insurance in China include the following:
Cancellation costs for flights, accommodation and tour
Many things could disrupt your China travel plans. If you or a family member got sick before or after you left, cutting your trip short, or if your employer cruelly denied your application for annual leave, you might need to cancel your Chinese holiday.
Instead of facing steep cancellation fees on your own, help your wallet out by getting travel insurance for China, which can help reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses as a result of cancellation.
Overseas emergency medical expenses
An accident or illness while you’re in China could land you in a doctor’s waiting office or even the hospital emergency department. Travel insurance for China can cover the costs of emergency overseas medical treatment, as well as medical repatriation to Australia (a quick flight home) if needed.
The standard of medical care and the range of familiar medications available in China is often limited, particularly outside of major cities. Medical personnel in rural areas of the country may lack adequate training. Some hospitals in major cities have specialised (and expensive) departments for treating foreigners.
As is the case in many places in the world, hospitals and doctors often require cash payment prior to providing medical services, including for emergency treatment.
Cover for theft or lost luggage and personal items
Theft is a risk wherever you travel, and Southern Cross Travel Insurance tells us that theft of personal items such as laptops, tablets, cash and jewellery make up the bulk of its claims for lost or stolen property.
And of course, there’s always the risk of losing a bag to airport handlers during a flight transfer or the like. Don’t go without your lost belongings – travel insurance can cover the cost of replacing not only your clothes and other belongings but also the suitcase or backpack they were travelling in.
Travel delay/changed travel plans
Natural disasters can derail the best-laid travel plans. China does get the odd tornado, flood and typhoon. Frequent high pollution is possibly more of a problem to travellers heading to major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
Flight schedules are regularly delayed in China because of smog. Should today’s flight be cancelled due to smog or typhoon, travel insurance can cover you for the last-minute and unavoidable change in your travel plan, covering the cost of switching your booking to tomorrow’s flight.
You should also note that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the Jiuzhaigou County in northern Sichuan Province on 8 August 2017, closing the valley to tourists until further notice.
Janet travelled to China on a 12-month travel insurance policy with Overseas Medical Expenses and Personal Liability cover. As a fit and healthy 19-year-old, she opted for this basic level of cover only.
Good thing she did! While in regional China, Janet woke one morning with a fever and tremors, which got worse. After presenting at the local hospital, she was discharged with pain relief medication. Her condition deteriorated so her family contacted Janet’s insurers. After speaking to the hospital, the insurer’s emergency assistance team believed Janet may have Meningitis, which can be fatal.
However, the local hospital would not perform the relevant diagnostic test. A decision was made to airlift Janet to Beijing via air ambulance where the hospital there diagnosed Viral Meningitis. Janet required 30 days of in-patient treatment, so her travel insurer arranged for Janet’s Mum to travel from Australia and stay with her in China until she returned to good health.
Janet’s travel insurance claim totalled $94,031.90, expenses that may have been completely unaffordable if she hadn’t had travel insurance.
What does China Travel Insurance cost?
Travel insurance is a necessary item, particularly if you are travelling out of the country; the old saying goes ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel!’
Fortunately, travel insurance is not a particularly expensive necessity when you consider flights, accommodation and tours. To give you an idea of what you can be expected to pay, Canstar Research has crunched the numbers on policies from 79 travel insurance providers to find the minimum, maximum and average travel insurance premiums you’ll pay for a 10- or 21-day holiday in China.
All premiums below are based on the premium data collected for Canstar’s 2017 Travel Insurance Award. Premiums have been rounded to the nearest dollar.
What does China travel insurance cover?
Cheap travel insurance is not always the best choice, as it is important that you buy the cover that suits your particular situation. A typical travel insurance policy will cover you for the following inclusions:
A typical travel insurance policy will cover you for the following inclusions:
To find a policy that can give you the right cover, check out your options with the Canstar website:
What does China travel insurance not cover?
Your travel insurance policy won’t cover everything that happens to you while in China, as there are a number of common exclusions, as well as exclusions specific to China.
Canstar’s research shows you get what you pay for; 3- to 5-Star policies tend to cover most things, whereas 1- and 2-Star policies have various exclusions, even sometimes for accidental death.
The bottom line is to compare travel insurance and check the fine print carefully to make sure you’re covered for the things that matter to you. A policy that falls short will hit you where it hurts most if you make a claim.
Risks in China
There are fewer risks to travellers in China than some other countries, which is nice to know. The country has a green rating, according to the Government’s Smart Traveller advice, which means that you need to exercise your usual safety precautions.
Of course, petty theft is common in every country. This can be avoided by exercising caution and possibly investing in an anti-pickpocket pouch. It’s also not uncommon for tourists to be targeted in scams such as being invited
It’s also not uncommon for tourists to be targeted in scams such as being invited for a massage, tea house service or to a café or nearby bar for a number of reasons including “to practice English”. Afterwards, the tourist is presented with a vastly inflated bill and is not permitted to leave until they pay by credit card.
One thing you need to be aware of in China is how severely they take drug use. Penalties for serious drug offences are severe and can include the death penalty. You should also not travel to the Tibet region without permission from Chinese authorities.
As with travel to any country, knowledge is your best defence, so just exercise normal precautions as you would when travelling in Australia.
Getting help in China
If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. The national 24-hour Police Emergency number is 110. For medical issues, call the 24-hour Medical Emergency Centre on 120.
Here are other official contacts that may be helpful:
Australian Embassy Beijing
Address: 21 Dongzhimenwai Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100600
Phone: +86 10 5140 4111
Fax: +86 10 5140 4204
Australian Consulate-General, Shanghai
Address: Level 22 CITIC Square, 1168 Nanjing Road West, 200041
Phone: +86 21 2215 5200
Fax: +86 21 2215 5252
Australian Consulate-General, Guangzhou
Address: Unit 02, 29/F, HM Tower, No. 3 Jinsui Road, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District, P.R. China 510623
Phone: +86 20 2910 6150
Australian Consulate-General, Chengdu
Address: Floor 27, Square One, 18 Dongyu St, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Phone: +86 028 6268 5200
Fax: +86 028 6268 5222
See the Embassy website www.china.embassy.gov.au for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are unable to contact the Embassy or Consulates in China for a consular emergency, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on, +61 (2) 6261 3305 (within China) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).
Risks aside, China is mesmerising, with its rich history, amazing scenery and glorious food. One thing’s for sure – you certainly won’t experience it all in a single trip, so be prepared for an encore performance. Start researching China travel insurance now by comparing on the Canstar website:
Canstar also rates travel money cards, and you can check out our 2017 Research to help find one to take with you on your Chinese holiday.