Buying a comprehensive travel insurance plan is a smart way to protect yourself from financial losses you may incur before and during a trip due to unexpected issues. But being a foreigner in Hong Kong can always be challenging when it comes to reading complicated local terms and policies. MoneyHero has created this page to offer you some travel insurance tips in holiday so that you'll know how to choose a travel insurance plan and make the best out of your coverage!
Things to consider before buying travel insurance
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Travel Insurance Tips 1.) When is the best time to buy travel insurance?
As travel insurance plans are activated from the moment of purchase, the simple answer to the question is "as soon as possible". Travellers are suggested to buy travel insurance right after purchasing their flight tickets so that even if their flights are delayed due to adverse weather conditions, they will also be entitled to file a claim as long as if they have bought travel insurance before any official weather warnings are issued.
Or, if they bought travel insurance before an official Black Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) is issued for their destination, and that their travel insurance plans cover such incidents, they will be able to make a valid claim.
1.1 Can I buy travel insurance after departure?
Generally, travel insurance are only valid if people buy them before departure. They usually cover the insured persons from the instant they depart from Hong Kong to the moment they return to the city. Therefore, if you buy travel insurance after departure, your purchase will not be accepted by travel insurance companies. You won't be eligible for making travel insurance claims even if you encounter accidents during your trip.
Travel Insurance Tips 2.) What should I do if there's a sudden change to my return date?
If you have to postpone your return date due to unforeseen circumstances, you can still be covered as long as your selected plan offers automatic trip extensions. Many travel insurance plans on the market provide such services when the insured person is under uncontrollable situations and cannot return as scheduled. Take Starr Companies' TraveLead Travel Insurance as an example, it can extend its coverage for up to 7 days at no additional premium.
Travel Insurance Tips 3.) Where can I buy travel insurance?
People can now buy travel insurance via various platforms, such as ATMs of major banks, travel insurance companies, brokers, or travel comparison websites. But each travel insurance plan has its pros and cons.
Don't want to spend time to compare which travel insurance plans cover mobile phones, car rental, trip cancellation, Covid-19, and luggage losses? MoneyHero compares over 40 travel insurance plans and offers informative travel insurance advice on its blogs, making it easy for individuals, families, seniors and those who want to buy annual plans to choose! The entire purchasing process only takes 5 minutes and the policies take effect immediately! Choices offered on MoneyHero's platform comes with discounts of up to 50% off. Some even offer you a free SIM card upon purchase!
Travel Insurance Tips 4.) Does travel insurance cover itinerary changes?
This could probably be the most helpful travel insurance advice for many going overseas for holidays. If the insured person has to re-route his/her itinerary due to a sudden outbreak of strike, or industrial action, riot, civil commotion, hijack, adverse weather, natural disaster or mechanical fault that result in the delay of public transportation, he/she will be eligible to claim for the additional accommodation and transportation cost necessarily incurred. Taking the example of Starr Companies' TraveLead Travel Insurance, if public transportation is cancelled or delayed for over 12 hours due to the above reasons, reasonable expenses incurred for changing the itinerary can be compensated, up to a maximum of HK$4,000.
Travel Insurance Tips 5.) Which day should be considered the departure date for insurance coverage if my flight takes off in the early hours of a day?
Generally, travel insurance's coverage starts from the moment the insured person leaves his/her residence to head to the departure point (such as Hong Kong International Airport), until he/she returned to his/her residence from the arrival point in Hong Kong.
The coverage on personal accident and baggage loss in a travel insurance policy can protect the insured persons against personal accidents and property losses that occur during the commute between their residence and the airport. If, unfortunately, the insured person suffers permanent disability due to a traffic accident happened while travelling from his/her residence to the airport, they can ask the travel insurance company for compensation.
Therefore, travellers who are taking an early-hour flight should consider the previous night of commuting to the airport as the departure date when purchasing travel insurance to obtain more comprehensive coverage.
Travel Insurance Tips 6.) Does travel insurance include coverage for Covid-19?
More and more travel insurance plans on the market are providing coverage for Covid-19. If the insured person is infected, they are entitled to apply for claims for "cancelled/ shortened trips" caused by the infection. However, each insurance company has different definitions of "infectious diseases", so it is best to check with the insurance company to confirm if Covid infections falls within their coverage before making a purchase and a claim. If unfortunately diagnosed with an infectious disease outside Hong Kong, the insured person should first seek medical treatment at a local hospital, and keep all medical reports, proof documents and receipts after being discharged, for making a claim after returning to Hong Kong.
Travel Insurance Tips 7.) Does travel insurance cover mobile phones, laptops, tablets and cameras?
How can one travel without a phone these days? Taking photos and looking at maps all require a phone. But not all travel insurance plans cover damages or losses of mobile phones. MoneyHero currently offers various levels of travel insurance plans from different insurance companies. A number of them provide mobile phone coverage, each with a maximum limit to its compensation amount.
Meanwhile, people who frequently travel on business are always concerned about coverage for laptops and tablets. In fact, most travel insurance plans on the market provide coverage for these items. But it is important to read through the terms and conditions as some travel insurance plans may not cover both items, but only one. If unfortunately, all three types of items are damaged or lost during travel, remember to take pictures for documentation. After returning to Hong Kong, you must obtain maintenance receipts from the original manufacturer's repair centre and submit it as a proof to the travel insurance company for making a claim. If the items are lost or stolen, you must report it to the local police within 24 hours of discovery and obtain a report to prove that you have lost your phone.
Moreover, here are some travel insurance tips for buying new digital gadgets, such as a camera and other filming equipment, before your next trip. You should make sure the travel insurance you choose covers those digital gadgets. Compare the coverage amount among different travel insurance plans and see how many digital gadgets can be insured under the same travel insurance policy as you may bring along several fittings with a digital gadget. For example, a camera, a tripod and some lighting equipment.
Travel Insurance Tips 8.) Do I have to buy travel insurance if I'll drive during the trip/ go on a road trip?
People with experience of driving overseas may think that car rental companies provide insurance so there is no need to purchase another insurance when renting a car outside Hong Kong. But generally, rental car insurance has a minimum excess, which means if compensation is required due to car losses or damages, the renter will still have to bear part of the amount.
For example, if you accidentally hit a lamp post while driving overseas and the damage on the lamp post requires a compensation of HK$10,000, the first HK$5,000 excess will be borne by you, and the remaining HK$5,000 will be covered by the rental car insurance.
Most travel insurance plans have a "rental vehicle excess" coverage. Take the example of Starr Companies' TraveLead Travel Insurance, which includes coverage for rental car excess up to a maximum of HK$5,000, If you purchased the plan before the trip begins, the excess of HK$5,000 that you originally need to bear can be compensated by Starr Companies. In other words, you do not have to bear the compensation for hitting the lamp post at all.
*Note: The above is just an example. The final decision is up to the insurance company.
Extensive Reading: Third Party Car Insurance In HK | What Is Third Party Liability Insurance?
Travel Insurance Tips 9.) Can seniors buy travel insurance?
Many people think that seniors cannot purchase travel insurance, but that's not true! It's just that some travel insurance policies have age limits, and even if the seniors do not exceed the age limit, the coverage amount for them may be lower than that of the younger adults.
When seniors choose travel insurance, they should pay attention not only to the age limit for buying, but also to the maximum compensation amounts for "medical expenses", "emergency medical transportation" and "hospital admission deposit" etc. If travelling to areas with high medical expenses, such as Europe, the U.S. and Canada, they should choose plans with higher coverage amounts.
Seniors should also be aware that travel insurance only covers medical expenses caused by injury or illness during the trip. If the senior already has a pre-existing illness, it may not be covered if it relapses during the trip!
Travel Insurance Tips 10.) Will I be compensated by travel insurance on accidents happened during high-risk activities?
Generally, travel insurance do not cover professional sports or competitions. You should pay attention to the exact wordings in the "exclusions" sections of the travel insurance policies. Activities like amateur sports that have cash prizes also may not be covered.
You are recommended to call the insurance company before departure to inquire about the relevant coverage so as to ensure that the high-risk activities you participate in are within the coverage range. In addition, if you want to participate in some high-risk activities, such as the following:
- Flying activities
- Car racing
- Aviation activities
- Sailing activities
- Bungee jumping
- Diving 30 meters or more underwater (including scuba diving)
- Rock climbing
- Rock climbing or mountaineering above 5,000 meters
- Wingsuit flying
- Hot air balloon
They may not be covered by travel insurance. If you want to participate in sports during your trip, you should pay attention to whether the activity is within the coverage range!
Travel Insurance Tips 11.) Does travel insurance cover losses caused by natural disasters?
Encountering natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and typhoons, during a trip is an unfortunate yet uncontrollable event. Luckily, travel insurance can cover them. But the insurance plan must be purchased before the natural disaster occurs. "Trip cancellation", "Trip curtailment", and "Trip delay" are the key insured items you should pay attention to in a travel insurance policy.
For example, you find out that a natural disaster has occurred at the destination before departure and you decide to cancel the trip. Just collect relevant supporting documents and file a claim, and the insurance company will compensate for the related losses, such as flights, hotels, or tours that have been booked.
As for "trip curtailment", if you encounter a natural disaster at the destination and have to return to Hong Kong earlier than the scheduled return date, the losses from the remaining of the trip will be compensated, including the return flight. However, please note that the fuel surcharge for the flight may not be within the coverage.
Finally, "trip delay", if your return flight is delayed due to natural disasters, you can also apply for claims.
Travel Insurance Tips 12.) Does travel insurance cover losses resulted from terrorist attacks?
Terrorist attacks are unavoidable, so it's better to buy travel insurance that includes coverage for such situations. However, even if the travel insurance plan covers terrorist attacks, there can still be different specific terms and conditions. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the coverage details on "medical expenses", "personal accident", "trip cancellation", "trip curtailment", and "trip delay".
As there is currently no internationally recognised definition of terrorism, insurance companies will define "terrorist attacks" themselves. Generally, terrorist attacks refer to "violent acts planned by individuals or organisations to achieve political, religious, or ideological goals, with the intention of creating panic to influence the government or the public." In most cases, insurance companies will determine whether an event is a terrorist attack according to the local government's classification of the attack.
Travel Insurance Tips 13.) Does travel insurance cover losses resulted from travel warnings?
Travel warnings are issued by the Hong Kong Security Bureau to help Hong Kong residents understand the personal safety risks they may face when visiting overseas countries or regions. After a risk assessment, the system considers whether to issue a travel warning for the specific country or region.
The warning is divided into three levels, with the lowest being yellow, reminding everyone to pay attention to the local situation and be vigilant about safety. The intermediate level is red, indicating a significant threat and advising against travel unless necessary. The most severe level is black, indicating a severe threat and advising against travel.
Most travel insurance plans cover travel warnings and will provide compensation based on the level of the warning.
Travel Insurance Tips 14.) Notes on making insurance claims
Before making an insurance claim, you need to prepare relevant supporting documents. In case the documents cannot be obtained in time, you can also provide the information to the insurance company later. Most people make insurance claims when they encounter the following situations:
- Lost/Theft of personal belongings: You must report to public institutions or the local police within 24 hours of discovery and obtain relevant reports as a proof of the incident.
- Flight delay: You must obtain a proof of flight delay from the airline.
- Hospitalisation due to injury or illness: You must obtain a medical report from local hospital.
- Mobile phone damages: Take a photo immediately and obtain a maintenance receipt from the original manufacturer's repair centre.
You must pay attention to the deadline and the documents required for the claim. The claim deadline of insurance companies is generally within 21 to 31 days after the incident. Sometimes, it may take more time to obtain the necessary documents. You can first apply for the claim, and inform the insurance company that you will submit the missing documents later.