Let’s say you have been saving up for a dream vacation for the last 18 months and finally you and your family will be on your way to living that dream for the next two weeks.
But hold it – have you given any thought to travel insurance?
Travelling comes with many risks and some of them could leave damaging and lasting effects on the traveller.
Why should you take travel insurance?
It is advisable to always be ready for any eventuality and one way you can mitigate the risks associated with travelling is taking out travel insurance.
While some of the trips you have taken may not have given you a reason for alarm or necessitated the need for travel insurance, unpleasant surprises tend to spring up when least expected and these could mean the difference between a memorable holiday or in extreme cases, a matter of life and death.
For many, the main decisions to make when travelling is how to get to the destination, where to stay and how to get back home.
For the basics, travel insurance is a sensible move to obtain coverage for non-refundable travel expenses.
Imagine being thousands of kilometres from home and unable to buy essential stuff you need because any extra expense would mean you are eating into savings you do not have or funds you have set aside for a future event.
In such a scenario, travel insurance comes in handy to ensure your expenses are taken care of without your having to break the bank. Some emergency expenses like medication are unavoidable and so taking insurance to cover such is a wise move.
According to Simmy Micheli from Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC), by taking out travel insurance you are essentially covering yourself against travel risks such as lost or stolen luggage, cancellation cover (should you not be able to travel due to unexpected medical reasons) and most importantly, unexpected medical costs abroad.
Micheli, quoted by the Flight Site Agency says, “Considering that the cost of a small medical emergency abroad could deplete one’s entire holiday budget it (travel insurance) offers you peace of mind.”
She adds that travel insurance provides a level of protection against currency fluctuations as, although one’s policy is paid for in local currency, all claims are incurred in foreign currencies.
A comprehensive travel insurance policy provides an emergency medical cover, losses occasioned by cancellations and so on, death and disability cover, a personal liability cover and luggage cover.
How to buy travel insurance cover?
While many insurers promise to cover the traveller, it is important to thoroughly research them to understand their terms and what they offer. Most of the antagonising clauses are hidden in the fine print. If need be, seek legal advice before putting pen to paper when buying insurance.
Insurers will promise that their cover is the best and it will give you peace of mind during your trip. Beware that the same insurers who offer “easy claims, express payments and 24/7 worldwide travel assistance” could turn against you if you missed the fine print.
Depending on the time of travel and if it is not an emergency, take the time to process all the information on coverage regarding travel insurance. Do not rush to sign papers which may turn against you should the need arise for assistance.
Avoid agents and other subcontracts on insurance
When buying travel insurance, it is advisable to avoid agents and other subcontracts unless you have dealt with them before.
In Kenya, for instance, insurance fraud is a big problem and scammers will fleece you at the first opportunity.
Bismart Insurance CEO Eunice Maina advises that fraud is rampant with many people, especially motorists, being exposed despite having paid for the covers. She says that it is advisable for motorists to verify the state of their cover to avoid exposure in case of an accident.
As with motor insurance, travel insurance should be taken equally seriously to avoid disappointments.
Maina urges insurance policyholders to directly communicate with their insurers to verify their policies after purchasing insurance through intermediaries. For better cushioning against fraud, Maina said it is sensible for policyholders not to pay premiums to intermediaries but directly to the insurance firms.
Now that you have read the fine print and paid up for yours and your family’s coverage directly to the insurance company, bon voyage and enjoy your dream vacation!