While many Schoolies return from their Gold Coast trips this week, a significant proportion of overseas Schoolies could be partying right up until Christmas. New data reveals, however, that 1 in 3 could return home with significant out-of-pocket costs, after it was revealed that 36 per cent of Aussies reported experiencing mishaps on their Schoolies trip – from lost belongings, to travel delays – and 59 per cent did not have travel insurance.

The survey of 1008 Australian travellers was conducted by multi award-winning travel insurance specialist InsureandGo (insureandgo.com.au), which sought to uncover what negative incidents they, or someone they knew or travelled with, experienced while on their Schoolies trip. The survey also gauged whether they were adequately covered by travel insurance.

While the findings revealed that interstate travel, compared with overseas Schoolies trips, is most common (77 per cent of respondents went on local Schoolies trips), a worrying number still reported experiencing a negative incident. Thirty-six (36) per cent experienced theft, lost luggage or belongings, and travel delays or cancelations during this ‘rite of passage’ trip, and a similar 37 per cent reported the same things happening to someone they knew or travelled with.

In addition, an alarming number were underinsured. Well over half (59 per cent) did not purchase travel insurance for their Schoolies trip to cover them for any travel-related problems. This indicates that, even though a large number of Schoolies go on domestic trips (77 per cent of respondents chose this), they were not aware of the importance of travel insurance for domestic trips.

It seems both today’s youth and older Aussies were less likely to bother with travel insurance for their Schoolies festivities: a whopping 87 per cent of baby boomers (55 to 64s) reported not having travel insurance during their Schoolies, while for 18-to-24 year olds, it was 63 per cent.

On top of the worry that most Schoolies-goers would not have been covered by travel insurance, 63 per cent reported experiencing sickness and injuries during their Schoolies. Should a sickness or injury occur as a result of a reckless activity, however, it can result in an invalidated travel insurance claim.

Jonathan Etkind, spokesperson at InsureandGo, says: “Any type of holiday warrants travel insurance, especially a Schoolies trip, where most Schoolies-goers are teenagers who are travelling without their family or a family member for the first time. Even so, our data shows that young Aussies are failing to take this precautionary measure to safeguard their holiday and it seems they are still largely unaware of the benefits for domestic travel insurance.

“Not only is Schoolies fraught with risks, but most young school-leavers simply can’t afford a holiday to go wrong. When they consider the cost of a trip cancellation or lost or stolen belongings affecting their holiday, travel insurance – even for domestic trips – is a wise investment. For overseas Schoolies trips, travel insurance is a necessary cover for unexpected medical expenses. InsureandGo offers comprehensive domestic travel insurance from just $36[1], and comprehensive international cover from $96[2], which can provide cover for various travel disruptions, including trip cancellations, delays and rental car excess waivers.”

InsureandGo’s 6 tips to avoid costly mishaps while on Schoolies:

  1. Golden rule: Accompany your belongings at all timesAs long as you carry your belongings with you, or they are locked in a safe at your accommodation, you will be reimbursed by your policy for items that are lost, stolen, or damaged during your trip. However, any luggage left unattended or unsecured in a public place will nullify a travel insurance claim. This applies to any personal belongings that you accidentally left in your hotel room, after you checked out.
  1. Avoid bringing high-value items. If you need to carry high-value items on your person, make sure you purchase a travel insurance policy that covers them. Valuable items such as phones, laptops and jewellery are often excluded from standard or basic travel insurance policies, or their cover is capped.
  1. Get supporting evidence if you miss your flight. Travel insurance can cover you for any flights missed through no fault of your own, providing you have supporting evidence. The same applies if a road accident stopped you from making your flight. In this case, you will need to be able to prove to your insurer that there was no alternative way to get to the airport.
  1. Know what steps to take when your flight gets delayed or cancelled. Travel insurance can cover you for delayed or cancelled flights – providing you have a letter from the airline stating the reason for the disruption. With more than 80,000 Aussies expected to have travelled Australia-wide for Schoolies this year[3], there’s every reason to be prepared for possible delays. A comprehensive insurance policy from InsureandGo, for instance, will reimburse you for the cost of necessary meals and accommodation expenses if, during your Schoolies trip, any of your flights were delayed for more than 12 hours.[4]
  2. Be aware of your surroundings in tourist hotspots. Whether your Schoolies trip is in Australia or overseas, always keep a watchful eye on your belongings – especially in tourist hotspots. As a tourist, it is easy to be swept away by excitement and forget about your environs, which can make you a target of theft.
  1. Purchase travel insurance – even for domestic trips. Even though school-leavers are increasingly looking at travel insurance for overseas holidays as a must-have, many are still largely unaware of the benefits of domestic cover. One of the major benefits is that it will ensure that your baggage and belongings are covered for any travel delays, losses or thefts. It would also be of assistance if an injury or illness forces you to cancel, or cut-short, your trip.

Whether respondents experienced any negative incident during their Schoolies trip 

Negative Schoolies incident Respondents who experienced any of the incidents (%) Respondents who knew, or travelled with another Schoolie, who experienced any of the incidents (%)
Sickness, including hangover sickness 45% 41%
Injuries 19% 23%
Theft 12% 15%
Lost luggage or belongings 12% 14%
Travel delays or cancellations 12% 9%

Did you have travel insurance during your Schoolies trip? Respondents (%)
Yes 41%
No 59%