Travel insurance today is cheap and even more accessible than ever. With your mobile, it’s easy to get your policy right before you leave on your trip. But as you are there in the departure lounge, have you stopped to consider why you should pick up this plan and not another? If you know that you just are one click away from picking the cheapest plan and a few dollars away from selecting the most comprehensive plan, will you decide differently? Here are 5 basic things you need to know before you purchase your next travel insurance online:
1) Make sure you and your travel companions are covered
Other than knowing your travel dates and destinations, it’s equally important to know if you are bringing any pregnant mummies-to-be, infants or seniors with you on the trip. The reason is because these people may need a different policy from you. Some policies do not, or only provide reduced coverage on benefits for travelers who are pregnant, younger than 6 months or older than 70 years old. Be sure to do your research to avoid suffering from a false expectation of protection.
2) Get your insurance early to enjoy all aspects of the coverage
It is recommended to buy your travel insurance as soon as you have booked your trip (i.e. once your air tickets and accommodation are reserved) rather than wait till right before you are about to depart.
One of the important pre-trip benefits is trip cancellation. Trip cancellation triggered by unforeseen circumstances will generally be compensated by insurance companies. These events include natural disasters, strike outbreak, riot, closure of travel agency and even serious illnesses, injuries or death of the insured, their family members or travelling companions. Most travel insurance policies cover travelers up to 60 days prior to the trip commencement date.
3) Be clear about any exclusions and knowing the claim limits
Check and ensure that the activities you intend to engage in on your holiday will be covered by the insurer. Sometimes, this may not be as straightforward as you think it is.
If you are planning to go for a challenging hike or group scuba dive, you would want to check if the policy covers such activities. This is where figuring out the differences in coverage across the various insurers could get tedious.
A product brochure may state that amateur sports including hiking and diving activities are covered. However, these benefits could be subject to certain conditions. In the case of hiking, some policy might cover hiking only up to a specific elevation (e.g. up to 3,000 metres above sea level) and not beyond. Similarly, diving beyond 30 metres in depth could also be excluded.
Even if an event is considered claimable, you may encounter some restrictions in claiming the maximum amount stated. An example would be baggage and travel delay cover. For this benefit, compensation will often only be paid by the insurer only after every 6 hourly block, and subject to an overall limit.
It is therefore vital to go through the exclusions and understand the claim limits of your travel policy to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
4) Know the insurer
Check if your insurer provides 24-hour worldwide assistance. It is useful to have an insurer with crisis-response capabilities to ensure you have your back covered in times of emergencies.
There are hundreds of online websites selling insurance today. It is well recommended to purchase only from reputable sites. Sites that carry only products from credible insurers will have professional knowledge and can provide advice and help you process any claims if necessary.
5) Price is not everything – Compare on a site like InsureDIY
The cheapest policy is often short on coverage. Finding a travel policy that meets your travel needs at competitive prices can require a significant investment of time and energy to get individual quotes from insurers and looking through all the product features.
Thankfully, there are compare-and-buy platforms available today to help you do all that homework. Such platforms allow you to understand the differences in product features, see the difference in pricing at a glance and buy all at the same site.
Even you are sure about exactly what sort of coverage you need, you can use platforms like this to learn and understand more about the various products available and the likely costs. A smart shopper will always seek to first understand the market and then compare before buying.
The article is brought to you by InsureDIY Sdn Bhd, a Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) licensed financial adviser. InsureDIY is committed to providing consumers with the right tools to help with their decision making process on insurance products ranging from travel to motor to life insurance and more. InsureDIY is licensed and operational in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.