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Taking out travel insurance that adequately covers you for the risks you face when travelling can be the most important thing you do prior to your trip.

"Do I really need travel insurance?" might be a question you ask yourself when you plan for a trip somewhere. Well, the definite answer is "yes". Taking out travel insurance that adequately covers you for the risks you face when travelling can be the most important thing you do prior to your trip.

When planning a vacation, the priority for most of us would be finding the right flight or hotel. But aside from these essentials, your planning should also cover emergencies and times when things don't turn out perfectly. No one really wants to plan on unfortunate thing happening during a trip, but accidents and hitches do happen.

Have you asked yourself how you'll be able to pay for the hospital bill if you or a companion gets sick while you're overseas? The cost of emergency medical treatment can be shockingly high and you might need to find a way to get back home sooner than planned. There's also the risk that you would need to cancel your trip at the last minute because you or a family member gets hospitalised.

Travel insurance is a type of insurance that protects the policyholder from the financial burden of medical expenses caused by accidents, sickness, losses, and other travel related inconveniences. Insurance coverage and the risks you're protected from, vary with different providers and insurance policies.

Most travelers will get travel insurance coverage for a single trip. But if you plan to travel several times in a year, then you might want to consider getting an annual policy. You can also get a plan that covers your family members as well.

When shopping for travel insurance, the premium (the price you pay for coverage) is one of the main factors you look at, of course. You also need to consider whether the plan provides adequate coverage for the risks you'll be exposed to during your trip. If you don't intend on certain activities during your trip, such as getting a rental vehicle for example, then getting a plan that doesn't have rental vehicle excess coverage can help you bring down your plan's premium.

The following are some of the common types of travel insurance benefits you can avail:

Medical Emergency (Accident or Sickness): Your insurance plan may have you covered for medical expenses incurred if you have an accident or get sick during your trip.

Compassionate Visit: The travelling costs of immediate family members may be covered by your insurer so that they can take care of you if you are hospitalised abroad while on your trip.

Return of Minor Children: If children are with you on your trip, have you ever considered what will happen if you're hospitalised? Your insurance can cover the cost of flying them back home while you recover at the hospital.

Loss of Limbs or Disablement: You can get benefits or compensation up to a certain amount if you suffer from loss of limbs or suffer an accident that causes you to become permanently disabled during a trip.

Personal Liability: In the unfortunate event that you do get into an accident and someone else was injured or someone else's property was damaged or destroyed, then this cover can come in handy.

Accidental Death: Horrible things tend to happen unexpectedly. With this type of coverage, your family can receive benefits in the event that you suffer from a fatal event during a trip.

Repatriation of Remains: This covers the cost of transporting the deceased policyholder back to Hong Kong.

Travel Delay: A travel insurance policy may provide benefits if your flight gets delayed due to bad weather, strike (by airline workers for example), a hijacking, or natural disasters.

Lost Baggage, Personal Items, or Travel Documents: Losing your things (especially your passport!) while you're on a trip can be a headache. If you have this type of coverage, you get reimbursed for your losses and even get funds you can use for expenses incurred while you seek a replacement for your lost travel documents.

Delayed Baggage: What will happen if you're at your destination and it's snowing and your baggage with your coat has yet to arrive? Thanks to your travel insurance, yYou may get reimbursed for emergency purchases of essential items or clothing if your baggage is delayed for 6 hours or more.

Personal Money: You can make a claim with your insurer for lost cash or travellers? cheques during your trip with this type of cover. This usually applies to theft and robbery but some travel insurance plans may pay out for accidental losses as well.

Cancellation or Curtailment of Trip: You may be reimbursed for non-refundable payments on your airfare or accommodations if the reason for your cancellation is specified in the policy. Depending on the policy, valid reasons may include serious illness, witness summons, unexpected riots, or civil unrest at the destination.

Loss of Home Contents: Afraid that you might come back home and find that your property was stolen while you were on a trip? If you get a travel insurance policy with this coverage, you can be indemnified for your loss.

Golfer Hole in One: Not everyone plays golf when they travel, but if you do play golf, you know how special it is to score a hole in one. If you do score a hole in one, tradition calls for you to invite everyone in the clubhouse on a drink. Hole in One Coverage allows you to may make a claim on this expenditure from your insurer. As golf is fairly popular in Hong Kong and this cover is appealing to travellers who play golf during their trip, many insurers cover it.

Take note that policies will specify the maximum amount you can get for these situations.

The Security Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government launched the Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) System in 2009. The system was meant to warn citizens of the risks they face when they travel to any of 85 countries in the system. It is color-coded and begins with amber alert, which advises travellers to monitor the situation in their destination and to exercise caution. Under red alert, travellers are advised to adjust travel plans and avoid non-essential travel.

Finally, under black alert, travellers are advised to avoid all travel to affected countries, which signifies that the threat to their safety is severe at the destination. You may visit the Security Bureau's Outbound Travel Alert website to learn which countries are currently deemed risky by the Security Bureau.

Before you sign up for travel insurance, read your plan's policy when it comes to OTAs. There are plans that may still provide some coverage if your destination has an amber, red or black OTA alert, whilst others strictly do not.

Example 1:

You're required to fly off to a high-risk country where armed conflicts are currently happening in certain locations. You arrive at the capital and find that it's business as usual, with no sign of any conflict at all. Unfortunately, you trip and break an arm while on your way to a meeting. Since your injury isn't related to the reason for the OTA alert, your insurance may cover the expenses for your treatment if your policy has medical cover.

Example 2:

In another scenario, an OTA warning has been issued because of a civil war. You're at the airport and armed men are firing at civilians. You get injured in the skirmish. Can you make a claim? Since acts of war and terrorism are common exclusions in policies and because your injury is related to the reason for the OTA alert, which you ignored,, this may not be covered by your insurance.

Some plans may provide additional benefits when the insurance plan was bought before a black alert was issued for a particular destination. Other plans may provide extended coverage when there's a black OTA alert. This may include additional travel delay coverage, loss of deposit or trip cancellation coverage, and trip curtailment coverage.

The key is to carefully read through your plan's policy for situations when an OTA alert is announced for your chosen destination.

As mentioned above, travel insurance might have exclusions that will be stated in your policy. This part of your policy lays out the conditions for when your insurer won't provide benefits if the cause of the insurance claim is related to any of the stated exclusion.

Common exclusions that you may find in your policy include:

  • War? This includes rebellion, civil war, or acts of foreign enemies.
  • Acts of terrorism
  • Pre-existing conditions? Your insurer may not cover any medical expense if your medical emergency is caused by a pre-existing condition.
  • Other health conditions such as insanity and venereal diseases
  • Alcoholism and drug-taking
  • Professional sports
  • Suicide and any self-inflicted bodily injury? Any medical treatment needed to treat suicide attempts or self inflicted injuries may not be covered by your insurer.
  • Illegal acts

Getting travel insurance should be part of your travel plans. It helps protect you from the financial repercussions of accidents and other minor setbacks when you travel.

We hope this guide helped you learn more about travel insurance. Feel free to contact us if you have other questions about travel insurance in Hong Kong. MoneyHero is here to help you save money, and make sound financial decisions.

Ready to sign up for travel insurance? Use the MoneyHero comparison tool to compare and buy travel insurance plans here in Hong Kong. Apply for a travel insurance plan today and enjoy safe and worry-free travels!

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