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Travel insurance for Hawaii

Looking for the best travel insurance for Hawaii? Compare your options and see how much you could save.

You might be gearing up for your escape to palm trees, warm water and pounding waves, but it’s still crucial you get the right level of cover in place for your trip. A single night in the hospital could cost you several hundred dollars, while travel insurance is far cheaper – and will give you added peace of mind so you can enjoy your island getaway.

Compare travel insurance quotes to Hawaii

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Name Product Medical Cover Cancellation Cover Luggage and Personal Effects Cover Default Excess
Cover-More Comprehensive
Cover chosen
Includes unlimited cover for emergency medical, accommodation and transport expenses, $25,000 cover for luggage and travel documents, and $10,000 for legal expenses.
Cover-More Annual Multi-Trip
Cover chosen
Peace of mind as you travel the world with comprehensive travel insurance that covers you over a 12 month period. An affordable option for those who take multiple trips over the year. Travel cancellation up to your chosen cover.

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Do I really need travel insurance for Hawaii?

Despite being a developed island with a long history of tourists, Hawaii is not without its travel risks and comparing travel insurance could offer financial protection for a range of losses:

  • Emergency medical expenses for emergency evacuation and hospital care.
  • Lost/stolen luggage and valuables including high-value items.
  • Cancellation fees and lost deposits if you are forced to cancel your trip for reasons outside of your control.
  • Car rental excess charges if you are involved in an accident and are forced to pay an excess fee (which can be as high as $5,000).

Simply enter your trip details in the form below to compare travel insurance for Hawaii. If you want some more information about what to look for, carry on reading.

Hawaiian travel concerns that make travel insurance essential

While travel involves an element of risk wherever you go in the world, there are certain risks specific to Hawaii that you need to be aware of:

  • High cost of healthcare. The United States is known for its high cost of health care. Even a few nights in hospital can rack up a large hospital bill, which is why travel insurance is a must.
  • Terrorism threats. As part of the USA, Hawaii is subject to the national terror threat assessment, which at present warns of a heightened threat. Visitors to Hawaii should exercise caution in public places.
  • Crime. Due to its liberal gun laws, the USA has a higher level of gun-related crime than New Zealand and Hawaii is no exception. Petty crime such as pickpocketing is also common and tourists are often targeted.
  • Water-related risks. As Hawaii has so many water-related activities, water safety is considered a major concern for visitors, especially for inexperienced swimmers, surfers or divers. Visitors are advised to be aware of hazards such as dangerous surf, strong rips, coral reefs and box jellyfish.
  • Volcanic activity. Hawaii is famous for its volcanoes, with volcanic activity occurring on a daily basis. Visitors have been killed in the past by lava, steam and toxic gases because they ignored warnings and ventured into restricted areas.
  • Climbing risks. Due to the large number of hiking and climbing opportunities, falls are responsible for the most visitor trauma admissions in Hawaiian hospitals. For this reason, visitors should obey all signs relating to dangerous cliffs, trails and lookouts.

I’m a relatively safe person, what’s the point in purchasing travel insurance?

While you may be a safe traveller, you don’t need to cause the situation to throw your financial circumstances into jeopardy. For instance, if you become ill while in Hawaii and need a few nights in hospital, you could face heavy hospital expenses. Similarly, if you have to cancel your plans for reasons outside of your control, travel insurance can refund costs such as refundable flights.

Example: Honolulu smash and grab

Having comprehensive travel insurance can come to your rescue, as New Zealand tourist Michael found out recently when his hire car was broken into in a Honolulu car park and all of his valuables and travel documents were stolen.

The losses that Michael faced:

  • $3,000 car rental excess
  • $1,000 stolen laptop replacement
  • $200 new passport and visa replacement costs

How Michael was covered by travel insurance

As Michael had taken out a comprehensive travel insurance policy prior to travelling, he contacted the emergency assistance team who assisted Michael with his claim. After providing his insurer with police reports, the receipt for his laptop and the receipt for the passport and visa replacement, Michael was able to cover his losses as detailed below:

  • $3,000 rental car excess paid directly to the car rental company. Michael’s policy automatically included cover for any rental excess charge up to $4,000.
  • $650 for the cost of his laptop. Michael’s insurer subtracted depreciation of 30% from the original value of the laptop as well as a $50 excess that is required by the policy for stolen items.
  • $150 for processing fees of new passport and visa. Michael’s insurer paid the $200 less a $50 excess.

Travel insurance comes a long away

Although Michael did have to cover $100 in excess charges and the original value of his laptop, without travel insurance, Michael would have been left $4,200 out of pocket.

* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.

Consider getting these activities as extras

Many Kiwis travelling to Hawaii do so to enjoy the range of adventure activities on offer, such as the following:

  • Sea kayaking. The stunning cliffs of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast offer some great sea kayaking experiences.
  • Parasailing. Waikiki beach is considered a prime spot for parasailing.
  • Powered hang gliding. Powered hang gliding is an exhilarating way to see Oahu’s North Shore and release your inner daredevil.
  • Shark diving. You can encounter these thrilling creatures up close and personal in Hawaii.
  • Surfing. Hawaii is known for one of the world’s more renowned surf scenes, and one that every surfer should check out.

Getting cover for these activities

While some insurers such as Travel Insuranz automatically cover activities such as parasailing, others may require you to add the activity as an extra or with an “adventure sports package”. You should always check with your policy for any activities you plan on undertaking.

hawaii-beachAm I covered if I go surfing?

Kiwis love to surf and surfing in Hawaii is the ultimate destination for many Kiwi board riders. Great surf locations around the islands include Waikiki, Peahi (the famous Jaws), Sunset Beach, Diamond Head, Pipeline, Hanalei Bay, Chun’s Reef, Sandy Beach, Pounders Beach and Laniakea Beach. While surfing on your travels is great fun, it also carries many risk factors (e.g. your surfboard could be damaged while in transit, or you could cut yourself on a reef while you are in action).

What exactly am I covered for?

A good surf travel insurance policy will also cover you for the following:

  • Surfboard in transit. Replacement of a stolen or damaged board up to the benefit amount you specify (in transit)
  • Surfboard in use. Replacement of a damaged board in use (limited to a few policies)
  • Hired surfboards. Costs associated with repairing a hire board
  • Medical evacuation. Medical evacuation if you are injured while surfing in a remote area
  • Medical expenses. Costs associated with reef cuts, shark attacks and other risks, provided that you were taking due care at the time

What am I not covered for?

The following are the main risks surf policies will not cover you for:

  • Professional participation. Injuries or damage incurred while participating in a professional capacity.
  • Reckless behaviour. Damages that are the result of your reckless behaviour (e.g. taking on Jaws in Peahi as an amateur or swimming in known shark-infested waters).

Am I covered if I participate in surf competitions?

One of the common exclusions in surf travel insurance policies relates to professional surfing. This exclusion applies in most sports-related cover and excludes cover if you receive any sort of wage, salary or financial reward for taking part. Most policies allow participation in amateur surf events, providing you receive no financial incentive for taking part. If you are a pro surfer on the world circuit, you would need to arrange specialised insurance that covers you as a professional sportsperson.

Am I covered if there’s a volcanic incident that disrupts my travels?

The recent Bali ash cloud

The volcano eruption in Bali and subsequent ash cloud that disrupted numerous flights is a good example of when an insurer will cover you for cancellations or delays due to unforeseen circumstances. The key word here is “unforeseen”, where claims were only paid out on those Bali cancellation claims for policies bought before the initial eruption. The ash cloud caused disruptions for some time, so after the initial eruption, it was considered a “known event” by insurers.

Check your policy and media warnings about volcanoes

Travel insurance is all about covering unexpected events and if people booked flights to Bali knowing there was a reasonable expectation they would be disrupted by cancellations, then in many cases they were not covered by their travel insurance. This interpretation varied with insurers, but the date when cover was taken largely dictated whether claims were paid. This is something worth keeping in mind if you’re travelling to Hawaii, where volcanic activity is commonplace.

Am I covered if I hike Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?

Important risks to be aware of

One of the risks particular to Hawaii is its active volcanoes, which have claimed a number of lives in the past. Dangers they pose include the following:

  • Being burnt by molten lava
  • Being injured by pumice and cinders during an eruption
  • Falling through cold lava beds
  • Being scalded by boiling steam
  • Being asphyxiated by toxic gases

Cover is provided for regular hiking injuries

If you hike through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, your travel insurance will usually cover you for any hiking-related injuries you might suffer such as a sprained ankle. But if you injure yourself in a volcano-related incident where you have not followed the instructions of your guide or have put yourself at risk in some way, then your travel insurance would be voided and would not cover your medical and hospital expenses.

I hear the best way to explore the islands is by driving: Am I covered for rental vehicles?

Here’s what you’re covered for:

  • Car rental excess. Most travel insurance covers rental car excess, whether you are driving in Hawaii or anywhere else. The excess is the amount you must pay the rental car company if you have your rental car stolen or are involved in an accident. Travel insurance covers some or all of this amount, depending on the level of cover you take out.
  • Personal injury cover. Travel insurance covers you if you are injured in a rental car accident, as this falls under your overseas medical and hospital cover.

Can I get cover for rental excess over $4,000?

Yes, some insurers will offer cover up to $6,000 in car rental excess insurance.

What’s not included?

Travel insurance does not cover the following:

  • Third-party injuries or property damage
  • Repairs to the rental vehicle itself

These liabilities are covered by a separate car insurance policy that the rental car company will require you to take out.

If I have a medical emergency, how am I covered in Hawaii?

Medical costs in the USA

As Hawaii is a state of the USA, health care is extremely expensive. A 10-minute consultation with a GP can cost anywhere between US$100 and US$150, and a night in intensive care in a Hawaiian hospital can cost up to US$10,500.

Travel insurance procedures

In the case of an emergency, contact your insurer’s emergency assistance service as soon as possible after the incident. They will assess your situation and depending on the terms of the policy they can provide a guarantee of payment in emergencies. If the costs are only a few hundred dollars, such as treatment by a GP, your insurer will usually require you to pay upfront and claim when you get back home to New Zealand.

Beware of pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that hasn’t been approved by your travel insurer, then you may not be covered for any medical costs that arise from the condition. If this happens in Hawaii, you may be liable for hospital costs.

What are the specific entry requirements for Hawaii?

Kiwis visiting Hawaii for less than 90 days can enter without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). However, you must apply for and be granted an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to leaving New Zealand (this can be obtained online). All foreign tourists visiting Hawaii, whether under the VWP or not, are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Have a passport valid for at least 6 months. You must hold a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry.
  • Stay no longer than 90 days. Trips must be 90 days or less.
  • Maintain foreign status. You must maintain your identity as a foreigner during your stay.
  • Have a valid visa if not under the VWP. You will need a valid visa issued by a US embassy or consulate if you do not enter under the VWP.

Will travel insurance cover a visa refusal?

Unfortunately not. Make sure you apply for your visa ahead of booking your trip.

I booked my Hawaii trip with my credit card… is the included travel insurance sufficient?

Many high-end rewards or platinum credit cards include complimentary travel insurance as one of their many benefits. So if you book and pay for your Hawaiian getaway using your credit card, you may be able to enjoy the convenience of complimentary travel insurance cover. This can save you the time of shopping around for cover, as it’s included as part of your credit card’s annual fee and you can enjoy cover for a wide range of travel risks.

Credit card travel insurance may not provide sufficient medical cover for the USA

However, you should be aware of the limitations of credit card travel insurance cover before deciding whether it’s right for you. While many standalone travel insurance policies offer unlimited cover for overseas medical expenses, credit card travel insurance usually has a limit on the amount of coverage available for overseas medical expenses. With hospital beds in the United States costing an average of $751.06 a night, combined with expensive medical treatment costs and potentially medical evacuation costs, the cover offered by your credit card may be insufficient.

Should I completely disregard my credit card’s cover?

Make sure to compare the cover offered by your credit card’s travel insurance with the benefits of standalone travel insurance before deciding which form offers enough protection for your holiday to Hawaii.

I’ve booked a trip with my travel agent and they’ve offered me travel insurance: should I go with them?

For many people, the idea of shopping around for travel insurance sounds time consuming and the most convenient option is to simply purchase a policy and your holiday from your travel agent. While this may seem like a handy time-saver, purchasing travel insurance from a travel agent can cost you more than if you were to purchase it online.

Travel agents sometimes charge a commission and other fees on top of the price of the policies they sell, so you end up paying much more for cover than you need to.

When is the best time to travel to Hawaii?

As far as weather is concerned, Hawaii, being on the edge of the tropics, only has 2 main seasons; a summer dry season (May to October) and a winter rainy season (November to April).

Time of the yearDetails
Summer (November to April)
  • Dry season
  • Quiet period with fewer tourists
Winter (May – October)
  • Wet season
  • Christmas, influx of visitors especially on Big Island
  • Surfing conditions
  • Migrating humpback whales appear off Maui
  • Cheap travel available
  • Cheap travel available

What are some tips for travelling in Hawaii?

Holidaying safely in Hawaii is much like holidaying anywhere else. Common sense is the key. There are risks involved in any form of travel and provided that you listen to warnings, don’t take unnecessary risks and cover yourself with travel insurance, you’re likely to have a fun, safe and uneventful holiday. Some useful precautions to ensure you do include the following:

  • Be aware of traffic conditions. Remember people drive on the opposite side of the road in Hawaii, so be vigilant when walking or driving in traffic.
  • Keep your valuables safe. Leave your valuables in your hotel room or room safe and keep essentials with you while you are out and about.
  • Don’t leave valuables in an unlocked hire car. Make sure to always lock your car and don’t leave valuables where they can be plainly seen.
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. Pay attention to your belongings, particularly when swimming.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Divide your money and credit cards, so if you lose one you will still have the other.
  • Wear sun protection. Skin cancer is prevalent the world over, so if you’re planning to spend a lot of time on the beach, use sunscreen or protection.

Who do I contact in an emergency?

If there’s an emergency while you are holidaying in Hawaii, there are a number of ways to get help:

  • Friends and family. If you need money urgently, call friends and family at home.
  • Your travel insurer. If it’s a health emergency, call your insurer’s emergency hotline.
  • 911 emergency hotline. If it’s related to a crime, call 911.
  • New Zealand Consulate. If it’s a consular matter, call the New Zealand Consulate General in Honolulu on +1 808 675 5555.

Picture: Steven Worster, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped) Picture: Laszlo Ilyes, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)

*The use of terms ‘Best’ and ‘Top’ are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing travel insurance policies.
*Price based on a quote for basic policy for a 2-day trip for an 18-year-old traveller. Please note that prices are subject to change. Price last checked as correct on October 2015.
Picture: Shutterstock

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