Here’s What Your Travel Insurance Does And Doesn’t Cover
It is one of those things that most people take for granted until something goes wrong.
When you are planning for that long-awaited vacation or finalising a busy business trip, the last thing you want to think about is whether something bad will happen. Or perhaps, you already have the misconception that you will not be able to get insurance coverage, so why bother?
If that train of thought has crossed your mind, you are not alone as there is a lot of misconceptions out there about what travel insurance does and doesn’t cover.
The first step is to de-mystify travel insurance and understand why as well as when it is needed.
‘Nothing will go wrong’
Before you decide you can do without the added coverage, consider what happened recently.
The tragedy that befell a Malaysian hiker in the recent earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia puts in focus the unexpected risks that travelling opens up. In this case, travel insurance had been purchased which meant the family of the deceased did not have to come up with the money to cover the cost to bring her remains home.
“The cost (of travel insurance) is not much… we need to be always ready for anything,” Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had advised Malaysians to take up travel insurance in light of the tragedy.
However, most Malaysians still regard travel insurance as optional.
Research shows that forty per cent of people only purchase it as an afterthought and at the very last minute while a local online survey conducted last year revealed that only 34.8% of Malaysians purchase it.
What does travel insurance cover?
According to the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM), these are some key features of travel insurance products that you need to know.
Death and permanent disablement: You are normally covered for death and total permanent disablement for a period within 365 days after the occurrence of the accident. The compensation will be paid according to a scale of benefits and may differ from one insurance company to another.
Loss of luggage: This covers accidental loss or damage to your baggage, clothing, personal effects, and even money, caused by the carrier.
Loss of passport and money: You will be reimbursed for additional hotel charges, travel and other expenses incurred in the country you visited, while obtaining the replacement of a lost passport. Such loss must be reported to the police within 24 hours.
When it comes to delayed, damaged or lost luggage, every traveller has a woeful experience to share.
Did you know that 6 bags per 1000 passengers were mishandled per year? According to statistics compiled by SITA, the global air transport IT and communications specialist had reported this finding in its 2017 Baggage Report. The chances of your bags going missing is even higher for those taking connecting flights, so you can never be too cautious by buying that travel insurance.
In the event when something unexpected does happen to your luggage, you also need to make sure you know the right steps to make a successful claim.
Every travel insurance product has a section on claims services and procedures, so make sure you read it thoroughly.
Most have common features as highlighted by PIAM which we compiled below.
How to ensure a successful claim
Contact the medical and emergency assistance hotline: Certain travel policies cover 24-hour emergency hotline service which provides you with access to assistance such as medical advice, referrals, medical evacuations and travel-related matters such as lost passport and baggage.
Notify the authorities: If your insured belongings are lost or damaged, you must take all reasonable measures to protect, save and recover them, and must also promptly notify the local police, hotel, transportation company or transportation terminal authorities, whichever is applicable.
Notify your insurer as soon as possible: You should submit the claim form with all supporting documents such as your original policy, the medical report, police report and any relevant documents to support the claim as soon as possible to your insurance company. You should check the time frame for claim notification stipulated in your policy.
Hospitalisation and medical expenses: Coverage for hospitalisation, hospital or surgical expenses, outpatient medical expenses, as well as daily allowances up to a maximum number of days, should you be hospitalised for more than 24 hours.
Repatriation: In the event of accidental death of the insured, the insurer will reimburse the insured’s legal representative for the cost of returning the remains home.
Curtailment: You will be reimbursed for expenses incurred due to loss of travel or accommodation expenses paid due to cancellation or curtailment of the journey.
Hijacking: The insurer may make daily payments up to a specified maximum number of days, if your journey is interrupted for more than 12 hours due to an act of hijack.
However, all travel insurance policies come with some specific exclusions which you should read carefully.
Some common exclusions include:
- War risks
- Suicide and insanity
- Provoke murder or assault
- Childbirth or miscarriage
- Hazardous sports
- Baggage delay and loss of baggage and personal effects due to seizure or destruction under quarantine or custom regulation
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Take the guesswork out of your trip, and buy your travel insurance the next time you travel.
After all, what do you have to lose? Buying travel insurance is a hassle-free way to avoid a bad trip when the unexpected happens.
When the recent general election was held in the middle of the week, many Malaysian travellers plans were disrupted.
Allianz Malaysia had even offered a full refund of its travel insurance to its customers who had to change or cancel their plans due to the elections. Having a travel insurance policy gives you the safety net to account for any unexpected changes or incidents during your travel.
According to an insurance agency owner, awareness among Malaysians about this type of insurance product is about 50%.
“These days, we have clients who come to us themselves for this coverage,” Elson Phuah, who runs the insurance agency Elson Phuah Group based in Penang shared with iMoney.
He added that the demand for travel insurance is spread throughout the year as there a variety of products catering for a short period like a few days to those that cater to customers who need a one year policy as well.
“Anyhow, premiums for travel insurance is very cheap,” he emphasized that travellers have nothing to lose but everything to gain in buying travel insurance.
Furthermore, if you use certain travel credit cards to book your flights, you may even get complimentary travel insurance coverage. For example, the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card offers travel insurance coverage up to RM300,000 and travel inconvenience coverage up to RM32,000.