Travel Insurance Introduction: A good way to protect yourself should you encounter problems that crop up during your travels is to buy travel insurance. Travel insurance is designed to protect you and your family against travel-related accidents, losses or interruptions. Always include travel insurance as part of your travel budget and enjoy peace of mind. Insurance is essential. Not ensuring you are safely covered on your vacation is a matter of being penny wise, pound foolish.
Why you should buy travel insurance:
1. Urgent medical assistance
2. Help with replacing lost luggage
3. Assistance with making an urgent trip home.
How to choose a travel insurance policy:
1. Make sure the policy you intend to buy covers those countries you plan to visit and that it is for the full period of travel.
2. Make sure that your insurance company has a good network of foreign affiliates who can provide you with the assistance you may need. Many insurers provide worldwide assistance services. Check whether your insurance company provides you with a hotline number for emergency assistance in multiple languages in travel advice, emergency messages and medical referral.
3. If you are travelling with your family, make sure everyone is included in the policy. Most policies will specify who qualifies as a member of the family under the insurance cover.
4. Like all purchases, you usually get what you pay for, so do not compare the prices only; take into account the benefits and the exclusions of the cover.
5. If you intend to take part in extreme activities like winter sports, mountaineering, bungee jumping or scuba diving, check the policy as most standard policies will not provide such cover. You may want to discuss with your insurer on the possibility of extending the policy to cover such activities.
What kind of losses can you claim from your travel insurance:
1. Medical Expenses: Falling sick while travelling can be a very scary and expensive experience. In case of accident or illness, hospitalisation, medical and surgical expenses and outpatient medical expenses are payable under this benefit.
2. Personal Accident: Compensation is paid in the event of death and permanent total disablement due to an accident. The compensation is paid based on a scale of benefits.
3. Emergency Medical Evacuation/Transportation: Medical evacuations and emergency transportation can be very costly but in some cases are unavoidable e.g. when the illness is serious and medical attention is not available in that country. Travel insurers normally tie up with international companies providing these services to provide for evacuation, with medical supervision, to the nearest facilities that is able to provide the proper care for an accident or illness.
4. Repatriation: In case of death, reimbursement will be made to the legal representative for the cost of transporting the remains home.
5. Trip Delay: This benefit provides reimbursement for the expenses incurred if flight or voyage is delayed for more than a specified number of hours due to reasons beyond your control.
6. Trip Cancellation/interruption: Policies generally cover non-refundable payments or deposits if your trip is cancelled or interrupted due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances. For example, insurers will rely on warnings issued by the government with regard to travel restrictions due to national safety concerns.
7. Loss of Luggage & Personal Effects: This benefit covers loss, damage or delay of your baggage, clothing, personal effects and money caused by a carrier. There are usually limits to the claims payable for such losses and these are always specified in the policy.
8. Travel Documents: In the event of theft or accidental destruction of your passport and/or travel tickets, you will be reimbursed the replacement cost and the additional accommodation and travel expenses incurred while you are waiting for replacements. You must report the loss to the police within 24 hours.
9. Hijacking: Although hijackings are not so frequent nowadays due to enhanced security, your insurance will provide for specified daily benefits up to a certain number of days if your travel is disrupted due to a hijacking of your plane.
What kinds of losses are not covered by travel insurance (You are advised to always read your insurance policy to fully appreciate and understand its scope of cover.):
1. War risks: These include loss or damage that may be attributed to civil war, revolution, riot or civil commotion.
2. Suicide, mental disorder, self-inflicted injury: The resultant injury, illness or death arising out of these conditions are not sudden, accidental or caused by external factors. These acts may be considered against public policy and there is also the element of moral hazard.
3. Pre-existing medical conditions: These are conditions for which you have received medical advice or are receiving treatment prior to you applying for the travel insurance.
4. Influence of alcohol or drugs (except under medical advice): This covers the temporary or permanent misuse of these substances which are considered hazardous to health.
5. Travelling against medical advice: In this case the person is advised to travel only when he is well.
6. AIDS, AIDS-related complex and sexually transmitted diseases: Provision of insurance for this category is generally considered to be beyond the scope of insurance.
7. Hazardous and professional sports: This category includes activities like racing, motor sports, mountaineering, bungee jumping, flying as a pilot or crew member, underwater activities, hunting, professional sports including winter sports, martial arts, wrestling and boxing. These are considered activities not normally undertaken by the average traveller and would require additional premium if the insurer does agree to provide such coverage.
Criteria needed to fulfill to be eligible for travel insurance:
Travel insurance policies are generally assessed by age, destination, length of stay and any pre-existing condition. Age may affect the eligibility of the elderly but it also depends on the other factors mentioned above.
In comparison, countries that are not known for political strife or security risks usually attract lower premiums.
Travel insurance is also charged based on the duration of your stay. The longer your visit, the more premium you pay.
What should you do in the event of an emergency?
When you purchase a travel insurance policy, check and see if the insurance company provides an emergency hotline service.
In an emergency, you can contact the medical and emergency assistance hotline for access to medical advice, referrals, medical evacuations and assistance in other matters such as loss of passport or baggage.
It is important that you notify the authorities such as the local police, hotel, airline or transportation terminal authorities of lost or damaged items. Remember also to inform your insurer and then submit the necessary evidence or documents as soon as you can.
How to make a claim?
First, you have to submit the claim form with supporting documents such as medical reports and police reports together with the details or a copy of your original policy. Check the time frame stipulated in your policy for filing claims.
Claims for losses or damage should be paid as soon as you provide proof of the damage and the insurer has had the opportunity to investigate and verify that the claims are in order.
Claims for lost baggage are usually compensated after a lapse of 30 days from the day of loss in case the airlines are able to recover the lost baggage within that time-frame.
Where can you go to lodge a complaint against the insurance provider?
If you are not satisfied with the offer of settlement or rejection of a claim, first try to resolve the matter with the Complaints Unit of the insurance company
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