Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Travel Insurance

The recent unrest in Mumbai and Bankok highlights the need to buy travel insurance before making a trip and there is a sudden surge in the demand for travel insurance among my clientele which was not their usual habit despite my constant advice.

I am a firm believer of Travel Insurance due to my own personal experience and is also my first claim experience with the insurance company which happen to be a Travel Insurance claim...My Mom's claim.

This happen way back in 1999 when I was still studying Final Year in the Polytechnic and my parent went on holiday without me. They have a habit to call when they touch down whenever they travel, but I did not receive any call from them pass 3 days from the day they left and I started to get worried. Those days handphone was not popular yet and few will bring a handphone to travel because auto roaming service was not popular then too, so I practically can only wait for them to call instead of calling them.

My sixth sense was right when my Dad call on the 4th day with a sad voice asking me to stay calm for what he was going to tell me. I could still remember he said, "Son, your Mom has a stroke in the plane even before we touch down and she is currently hospitalised unconsciously in the local hospital". I got a shock of my life since I had never experience such life event and I always take for granted that such thing will not happen in my family, who will or want that to happen anyway? I was lost of word and Dad had to comfort me to stay calm and focus on my final year exam, then he put down the phone promising to keep me updated on Mom's medical condition. I though that will be my last memory of my mom and tears start falling heavily.

Eventually my Mom got better and was sent back to Singapore for treatment. I rushed to the Airport on the day they returned and tears start rolling again when I saw her in the wheelchair with the medical apparatus. There was a doctor with her and according to my Dad all those was arranged by the insurance company. They sent a doctor over to monitor my Mom's condition and flew her back in the business class as she need more space due to the bulky medical apparatus required, then she was sent to the hospital in the long limousines that I only saw in the movie and not in real life. Mind you I was really impressed by the service rendered even though I was in my saddest moment! The rest was history as my Mom had recovered now but the scene was still vivid in my mind.

The total bill for her hospital stay oversea, plus doctor sent to accompany her back in business class with the limousines sending her to the hospital and the local hospital bills all add up close to $50,000! That's a lot of money then when liquidity was low in the family as the economy had not fully recovered from the Asian Financial Crisis where most of my Dad's money was stuck in the stock market and money sent to support my younger brother oversea study expenses. Luckily my Dad is a firm believer of travel insurance as he always says, "Since you have already spent so much money in the travel, what is another small amount to buy a peace of mind worth?". The travel insurance he bought for that trip was only $50 dollar while the claim chalk up to around $50,000 and could be even more for more severed cases! Isn't it a beautiful product? Since then, our family became advocates of Travel Insurance ensuring we spread the gospel to everyone we know.

After the emotional sharing, now is the logical sharing...

Many people have the doubt of whether should they still buy travel insurance if they had charge their air ticket with their credit card which will also provide insurance coverage. Some also think that there is a duplicate since most of the baggage lost or flight delay can seek compensation from the airlines.

The answer is a definite YES! Many do not know that the travel insurance coverage from their credit card is not comprehensive although some cards can cover up to $1 million coverage in the event of accidental death but terrorism is usually excluded, so read the terms and condition carefully. Most importantly, not one card that I know of as of now offer EMERGENCY MEDICAL EVACUATION & REPATRIATION coverage which is the main reason why you buy Travel Insurance! One of the definition for the coverage from one insurer is as follows:

"If you suffer a Disabling Injury, Sickness or Disease indemnifiable
under this Policy which, in the opinion of the Appointed Assistance
Company, is necessary to evacuate to the nearest registered medical
institution for medical treatment or return to Singapore, we will pay
for the reasonable cost of transportation and en-route medical care
and supplies including the assignment of a doctor &/or nurse to
accompany you, air ambulance, regular transportation, rail, road or
any other appropriate means necessarily incurred;"

Whatever insurance we buy must have the objective to insure what we cannot afford or feel pain to lost (eg. the big bills like my Mom's case) so that we can transfer our risk to institution with bigger financial strength like the insurance company with a small fraction of premium. The more observant people will ask is there a need for travel insurance then if we had a Personal Accident Plan with emergency evacuation? The answer is still YES as Personal Accident Plan will only cover if the incident is due to accident, what if we fall sick and not due to accident? The answer is obviously a "No", and Personal Accident Plan also does not cover other things like Trip Cancellation, Delayed or Damaged or Lost baggage etc...

In conclusion: "Never leave home without a Travel Insurance even if you just travel to Johor Bahru!"


Anonymous said...

With the local government pumping in a lot of money into Singapore's medical industry, I feel that singapore hospitals are very good now. Top notch service with speedy service time.

Leroy said...

Hi Eng Peng,

Good point about the need for travel insurance! Thanks for sharing.

There are many travel insurances available in the market. Will you be willing to share more on the other aspects that we should evaluate on to determine which is the most appropriate insurance for our travel needs?

Blogsite: www.leroyang.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I think this is an important thing that most people don't bother with. Good post. I'm posting this on www.moolah.sg

TEA ENG PENG said...

Thanks Jarly for posting my blog in www.moolah.sg


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