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Travel insurance cover for visa refusal

I'm currently waiting for my visa to be processed. Can travel insurance reimburse me if my visa is refused and I'm forced to cancel my trip?

Unfortunately, travel insurance does not provide any cover if your visa application is refused by the government of your destination country. Travel insurance policies will exclude any claims that arise if you fail to obtain the appropriate visa. As a result, you won’t be reimbursed for any cancellation fees and lost deposits.

So what should I do?

If your visa is rejected, the next course of action will vary depending on which country denied you the visa. Typically you can

  • Re-apply for a visa or ask for a review. For example, if your application for a visa for the United Kingdom (UK) is rejected, you can request an administrative review of your application by filling out a review form online.
  • Ask your travel service provider if they can let you reschedule your trip. This will give time for your destination’s embassy to review your new application or appeal.
  • If all else fails, ask your travel service provider for a refund. You might be able to get a partial refund back for your trip.

If you’ve yet to book your trip or apply for a visa, it’s important to apply for a visa well in advance of your planned travel dates. Applying early allows enough time for you to take whatever action possible without having to cancel or rebook your trip.

How do I avoid a visa refusal?

  • Understand the visa requirements for a country. Kiwis should check with the Embassy or High Commissions of the countries you intend to visit or transit to find out their visa / entry requirements.
  • Understand how long it takes for a visa to get processed. If a country typically takes one to two months to process visa applications, applying a few days before your scheduled departure isn’t going to help.
  • Leave extra time for processing and knock backs. Even if you satisfy all eligibility criteria, allow extra time in case processing your application takes longer than expected or your first application is refused.
  • Apply for the visa before you book any travel arrangements. Travel insurance won’t cover your cancellation costs if your visa application is refused, so apply before you hand over any money to book your holiday.
  • Confirm with the embassy of the destination country that you have met the visa requirements. Double-check with the relevant embassy that you have satisfied all the necessary requirements to gain entry. Confirming that you will be allowed entry ahead of time can save you a whole lot of stress in the long run.
DestinationPurposeVisa type
  • Typical wait time*
USAStays under 90 daysESTA (Visa Waiver Program)
  • 72 hours
  • In some cases an additional 10 hours processing time
Stays over 90 days (work and study)Student/exchange visa
  • 15 days
ThailandStays under 30 daysNo visa
  • Varies – processed at the airport
Stays under 60 daysMultiple entry tourist visa
  • 2-15 days
UKStays under 6 monthsTourist visa
  • Varies – processed at the airport
Stays over 6 monthsLong term visit
  • 15 days
EuropeStays over 90 daysSchengen visa
  • Typical wait times are around 72 hours.
BaliStays under 30 daysVisa On Arrival (VOA)
  • Varies – processed at the airport
CubaStays under 30 daysTourist visa
  • The standard processing time is 10 working days

*The wait times stated in this table are a rough guide based on information from consulate advice from respective consulate, embassies and visa application centres. It is a good idea to apply for your visa in advance of booking your trip.

What if my visa expires overseas?

If you find yourself in this situation, contact the immigration authorities in the country you are in as soon as possible. If you don’t get in touch with the authorities voluntarily, you run the risk of being deported at any time at your own expense or possibly being arrested and imprisoned.

When you contact the immigration authorities, depending on your circumstances, they may require you to:

  • Apply for a new visa
  • Pay a fine for overstaying your visa
  • Depart the country

If you’d like to discuss your situation with a consular official, you can also contact the nearest New Zealand Embassy, high commission or consulate before you contact local immigration authorities.

I lost my passport and visa overseas. What can I do?

If you lose your passport and visa while overseas, you’ll need to report it to the authorities as soon as possible. You can report lost or stolen New Zealand passports via the New Zealand Passport Information Service. You’ll need to check the procedure for reporting a lost visa with a specific country’s immigration authorities .

Travel insurance can cover the cost of replacement

Most comprehensive travel insurance policies will often cover the cost of replacing lost, stolen or damaged travel documents, including passports and visas. Of course, it’s important to check the fine print of your policy so you know exactly what type and level of cover is available.

What cancellation reasons can travel insurance actually cover me for?

Travel insurance cancellation cover is designed to cover the cost of cancellation fees and lost deposits when unexpected circumstances beyond your control force you to cancel your trip. This can include:

  • Serious illness or injury suffered by you or your travelling companion
  • If a family member dies or is hospitalised
  • If a natural disaster or extreme weather event occurs
  • If you lose your job
  • If you’re required to appear in court and are unable to travel]

When these and other situations occur, travel insurance can provide cover for the cost of cancelled flights, accommodation, tours and equipment hire, as well as things like additional accommodation and food expenses when flights are cancelled due to inclement weather.

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