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What to look out for when buying travel insurance

Reader’s Digest Asia logo Reader’s Digest Asia 7/9/2018 Siti Rohani
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You’ve got your flight and your accommodation booked and now you’re ready to buy travel insurance.

You search for the cheapest one you can find online and – click – you’re all sorted.

But did you read the fine print to make sure that you are adequately covered for any emergencies that can crop up?

Learn from the plight of one Singaporean traveller who posted her story on Facebook to serve as a cautionary tale.

She was going away with a group of friends and unfortunately, their flight was delayed for 24 hours.

While her travel companions managed to claim for the delay through their travel insurance, she didn’t receive any compensation as her insurance provider didn’t cover delays caused by operational issues.

Buying travel insurance is one of those times when you should definitely not skip reading the fine print as you may end up with less protection than you thought.

Check these 4 things off your list when shopping for travel insurance.

1. Buy insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed

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Many people tend to leave buying travel insurance until the last few days before their trip but that’s not a good idea.

You should buy insurance the moment the trip is confirmed.

Some policies cover you for up to 60 days before the trip starts so you’ll be protected should unforeseen circumstances crop up, such as serious injury to any of the travelling party.

Read the policy’s fine print involving travel delays and trip cancellation, postponement and disruption. 

2. Understand what is being covered

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We know it’s tough to go through so much fine print but in the case of travel insurance, you do get what you pay for.

Compare across several policies to see which benefits best apply to your needs.

The usual benefits to look out for are: personal accident coverage, overseas and local medical expenses, flight delays, loss of property, medical evacuation and personal liability.

Be aware that medical costs in some countries can be really high so you may want as much coverage as you can afford.

If you’re renting a vehicle, check how much rental vehicle excess is covered and if you’ve booked your trip through a travel agency, make sure your insurance covers your travel agency becoming insolvent.

3. Choose a reputable insurance provider

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Do some research to make sure that the insurer you’ve chosen has a good reputation for paying out eligible claims.

It should also provide a 24-hour hotline so you can get immediate advice on how to proceed should an emergency take place.

Be aware that most insurers will need you to submit a claim or a report of the incident within a certain time period.

4. Take note of the exclusions

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Most travel insurance policies won’t cover medical expenses that arise from pre-existing illnesses, such as a heart attack for someone with a heart condition.

So, if you want extra peace of mind, look for a policy that covers this.

You should also be aware that some policies will not cover you for what is considered dangerous activities or extreme sports, such as mountain climbing or scuba diving.

If you’re going to be taking part in such activities, it pays to make sure that your policy will cover you during those moments, even if you have to pay a higher premium.

Nothing's worse than that sinking feeling you get when you head off on your adventure and remember you left something important at home. Keep your angst to a minimum and use this handy travel checklist.

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