Travel insurances are often an excellent option for those who want or need to travel overseas. A good travel insurance policy will cover any unforeseen medical expenses, damage or loss to personal possessions such as luggage and even financially reimburse you for the time you lose due to flight delays, among other things.
Many Singaporeans already make frequent trips abroad and even more are expected to do so in the future. This makes travel insurance policies an increasingly popular financial product in the country. But what many customers do not realise is that not all travel insurance policies are created equal.
More importantly, buying travel insurance does not mean that there is nothing you should be concerned about. Most travel insurances come with certain exclusions and it is critical that you understand what is not covered to avoid having to make distress calls to your insurer.
- Trips to some countries are not eligible for travel insurance
- Conditional coverage for expenses of follow-up treatment
- Carelessness from your side
- Participation in certain activities
- Do not miss the co-payment factor
The risks involved in journeys to most countries across the globe are more or less similar. But there are certain countries where factors such as political instabilities, war, or law and order laxities make trips riskier than usual. Most insurers are reluctant to cover travel to such countries.
Examples of such nations include Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Congo, and Liberia. The list may differ from one insurance company to another and so, before making the trip, clarify with your insurer if your destination is covered under the policy. If you are looking for an adventure trip into a war-torn region, insurers may not be willing to provide coverage.
Even when you travel to an approved country, some insurance companies may not provide coverage for any damage or loss incurred due to issues such as war, rebellion, or radioactivity-related issues.
Coverage for medical costs are an integral part of travel insurance policies as costs of healthcare for foreigners are irrationally high in some countries. For the most part, this includes expenses incurred for the treatment of any health issues while you are overseas and for follow-up care once you get back to Singapore.
What many people do not realise is that any follow-up treatment has to be initiated within a specific time period set by the insurance company. So before buying a travel insurance policy, go through the terms and conditions to find out how long you can wait before making a visit to the doctor.
While a travel insurance essentially guarantees reimbursements on any loss or damage to your personal possessions and costs of any injury you may have had during your trip, this does not mean you do not have to care for yourself.
In fact, insurance companies often add a clause to their terms and conditions which indicate that you cannot claim benefits on personal belongings or bodily harm if you are not being reasonably careful. Claims may also be denied if your injuries are self-inflicted or you are injured while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Some travel insurance providers do not cover activities like extreme sports, racing, mountaineering, off-piste skiing, etc. Benefits may also be denied if you take part in any professional sporting competition that could potentially get you financial rewards.
Certain activities may be permitted conditionally. For instance, you may engage in scuba diving if you have relevant certification or are doing it along with an instructor. Trekking may be allowed but not beyond a specified height above sea level.
Many travel insurance policies mandate that you have to pay for part of the expenses caused due to damage or loss. In other words, in the event of a claim, you and the insurance company bear the brunt together. In the insurance terminology, this is known as co-payment.
Go through the terms and conditions of your policy to find out if there is a co-payment clause attached to your product. Even though it is found to be very common, many customers tend to overlook it.
What else should you know?
Apart from the above-mentioned points, there are a few more clauses you should be cautious of. Most travel insurance policies do not cover pre-existing health conditions. Some insurers do not cover diseases or complications arising from conditions like a Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, venereal diseases, etc.
Pregnancy or complications arising from it may also not be covered. If you are travelling against the advice of your doctor, the insurance company may refuse to provide you coverage. Not surprisingly, engaging in any illegal activity could also make your policy void.
To sum up, the most important thing to do is to carefully scan through the terms and conditions that accompany your policy. This will give you a clear idea of what you are getting into and help you be prepared for any eventuality. Insurance companies will try to entice you with seemingly-attractive offers and options but, at the end of the day, it is your responsibility to understand everything about the product you purchase.