With school out for the summer, schoolies are being urged to use caution when riding scooters overseas.

This year, hundreds of schoolies are expected to descend upon Bali and Thailand, with plans to kick up their heels after a grueling few year of exams, covid restrictions and lockdowns. For most school leavers, it will be the first holiday unaccompanied by family, and for some, the first trip ever abroad.

However, with a surge in teen travel comes an uptick in risk-taking behavior, particularly on overseas roads. This year alone has seen a considerable number of young Australians die from motorbike and scooter related incidents. A fatal motorbike crash in Greece claimed the life of 23-year-old Harry Lambley in August and just weeks earlier 25-year-old Saarah Hannah Bulbul died in Turkey after the motorbike lost control. Two more Australian scooter deaths were reported earlier this year in Bali, and numerous other riders seriously injured.

Natalie Ball, the director of Comparetravelinsurance.com, says,

“The tragic number of scooter injuries and fatalities abroad has put schoolies safety on high beam. Young travellers are advised to take caution on their holidays and, if hopping on a motorised bike, ensure they are adequately covered. It’s crucial for schoolies to pack travel insurance - in emergency situations this can be a matter of life and death.”

Ball says that before heading abroad, young travellers should educate themselves on the requirements of riding a vehicle.

“Quad biking, for instance, is a popular adventure activity that is usually booked at the last minute with a group of peers. It is also an activity that many insurers exclude. Whether it’s a two-wheeled vehicle or four, it's important to take a minute to consider whether you would be covered if disaster strikes.”

License to ride

Ball says that too often travellers fail to appreciate the perilous nature of scooter riding.

“Scooters are a popular way to get around, but tourists are regularly caught out by the poor infrastructure and lack of traffic control in places like Bali and Thailand. It’s essential to understand the risks involved when riding on foreign roads along with any restrictions that apply to your travel insurance.”

Ball notes that many Australians are unaware that not all insurers automatically cover the use of a scooter, motorcycle or moped, and strict requirements can apply.

“Always check to see if your insurance covers you to ride a scooter. Generally, you will only be covered if you have an Australian motorbike license as well as an international driving permit,” she said.

On occasion, a valid standard driver's license alone might be enough to cover you to hire a motorbike, however, Ball says this only really applies to low powered scooters.

“Most Australian travel insurers require you to carry an Australian motorbike license for a scooter or moped over 50cc, and very often an IDP as well.”

Ball notes you must also wear a helmet and follow all traffic rules to be covered.

“Not wearing a helmet will instantly void your travel insurance claim. The same goes if you are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol whilst riding. Use common sense and don’t assume that travel insurance will cover you for dangerous or illegal behavior.”

Lastly Ball advises that young travellers should think twice before hiring a scooter or partaking in adventure activities such as quad biking, particularly in south-east Asia, where roads are congested and notoriously dangerous.

“If you’re young and inexperienced, consider other modes of transport. Check the local laws of the country you are visiting and the coverage of your insurance policy. The cost of an accident abroad can be ruinous, and not a risk worth taking, no matter your age.”