Published on: 21 August 2014 by Matt Webb
So you want to go on holiday? You’ve found a secluded getaway somewhere on a remote island paradise, decided to shop till you drop in an air-conditioned mega-metropolis or sample the delights of the local cuisine on an empty stretch of beach. Wherever you may be headed nobody can deny that a break from from the humidity and rain of crowded Hong Kong for some well needed rest and recuperation can be one of the highlights of the year. With a range of quality destinations within a stone’s throw of our little SAR there are a huge number of residents traveling overseas in increasing numbers every year.
Although holiday’s are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, what you probably haven’t thought about is what would happen if you were bitten by a shark on the secluded island, or tripped over in the mall and broker your arm, or even if you developed a serious case of food poisoning after some delicious seafood.
The potential risks of overseas travel should not put you off of your vacation plans, but should all be considerations when you go on holiday. Having adequate insurance cover in place is important for your own, and possibly for your family’s, protection. Additionally there are the matters of theft, loss of baggage, cancellation or even personal liability whilst abroad; all of which can be extremely stressful and scary if and when they occur.
Another thing to keep in mind is knowing what kind of activities you will be participating in during your journey. Will snowboarding or skydiving accidents be covered under a standard travel insurance policy? Do you plan to ride around on a scooter having never before attempted to operate anything on two wheels bar your childhood BMX bicycle? If you forget how to break and ride into a tree, will you be covered in the event of that accident?
First of all, let’s look at a comparison of the Baggage and personal Effects coverage of a selection of popular travel insurance plans.
For most readers, the loss of a mobile phone or laptop would be an extremely disruptive experience. With the amount that we use mobile technology these days, the loss or theft of an item would leave many people feeling lost and naked.
While an insurance policy cannot prevent the theft of those small and important electronic items, it can help soften the financial blow that comes with the loss of your belongings. In some cases, Hong Kong travel insurance options can even provide cash allowances for bodily injury following muggings and so forth.
Under most local travel insurance options the coverage for baggage and personal effects tops out at $25,000 HKD. For a majority of policyholders, this would seem like an adequate amount to cover the loss of a phone or Laptop. $25,000 could buy 5 laptops you are thinking to yourself! But there is typically a catch to this total amount, in that no single item can be covered for the full limit.
The important things to note with travel plans are the per-article limits, which is the amount of money you can receive per item. This means that should you lose a mobile phone, the coverage may specially exclude your phone, or the cover may only be $2000 HKD or less on that one item. This means that, for those people with expensive new smart phones, the loss may only be partially covered even with the large total limit on baggage.
The standout plan for Baggage and Personal Effect coverage under all the travel insurance options offered by CCW is the AXA SmartTraveller plan which provides up to $3000 HKD per mobile phone or laptop.
Unfortunately people can, and do come down ill or suffer from an injury when travelling, and the cost of medical care outside of your country of residence can be enormous. The medal coverage provided under Hong Kong travel insurance plans is generally a core component of the policy, and is designed to alleviate what is probably the greatest worry individuals have when travelling abroad.
As can be seen from the table below, the health insurance coverage from a number of selected Hong Kong travel insurance plans range from $500,000 to $1,500,000 HKD.
It should be noted, however, that despite an often reasonable sounding level of medical coverage available under most local travel options, a majority of these plans are designed to simply patch you up and get you back to Hong Kong; where it is assumed that you will go into the local public healthcare system for treatment.
While travel insurance offerings will cover you for medical emergencies overseas, this coverage is not intended to provide long-term care. Furthermore, a travel insurance policy won’t cover you upon your return to Hong Kong; no matter how high the policy’s coverage limit may be! If you want to ensure that you are able to receive medical care when you return to Hong Kong it is a good idea to look at locally available medical insurance products.
According to the Association of British Insurers, cancellations accounted for 34% of insurance claim costs to the travel insurance companies.
This is essentially a reimbursement of non-refundable deposits or charges arising from trip cancellations due to strikes, riots, terrorism, natural disasters or adverse weather conditions. This can also cover reasons for cancelling a trip including sickness of the insured individual, their family, or even the emergence infectious diseases (such as Ebola!) at the destination of travel which may impact the ability of the policyholder to go on the holiday.
Keep in mind that is it important to take out an insurance policy prior to departure as the vast majority of policies do not allow cover to be taken out after you have arrived at your destination, or will include waiting periods on cover taken out whilst overseas.
Another important point to consider is the period which you are travelling for. Insurance policies generally have limits on the duration of each journey, particularly under Annual plans. The insurance is also intended for legitimate return travel, and not for emigration, with some insurers having cover terminate 7 days after arrival in the final destination country if the policyholder’s journey is a one-way single trip.
Remember to keep as much documentary evidence as possible so that you will have ample evidence in the event of a claim. When claiming, insurers will generally want to collect information on the claim to verify its legitimacy and ensure that they accurately understand the claim’s details in question. The more proof you have at claim time the easier it will be to convince the insurer that they are required to pay out as per the policy you have obtained. When purchasing items, be sure to keep receipts and, if you send those receipts to insurers, be sure to make photocopies of originals.
In criminal incidents be sure to keep police reports and to document the event for later reference. When you’ve received medical assistance, make sure to obtain medical reports, ideally with the hospitals letterhead on official documentation. If you require reimbursement of funds paid for by your credit card then include statements with itemised expenditure relating to a claim. You should also try to bring your certificate of insurance with policy number and the emergency contact number of the insurer for obvious reasons.
Hong Kong and destinations within Mainland China are so close that many people are taking weekend trips to scenic areas, or even just popping over the border for a business
meeting. One interesting feature with insurance policies aimed towards Mainland travel is a China Hospital Deposit Guarantee Card which allows deposit free inpatient treatment at hundreds of hospitals around China.
In essence, this takes some of the stress away by providing a deposit guarantee and enabling you to just turn up at the hospital and receive the medical treatment without worrying about upfront costs. It should be known, however, that outpatient treatment, which is care not requiring a hospital bed for the night is still reimbursed after the event on submission of the medical documents and receipts. This means that a broken finger, for example, is likely to be reimbursed at a later stage, while something like appendicitis will be, in most cases, paid for by the insurer from the get-go.
Many Insurers will cover amateur sports and other exhilarating activities such as Bungee jumping, scuba diving, and skiing without an extra costs. It is very important, however, to check the policy wording when buying insurance, especially if you are going to be doing anything hazardous during the journey.
When In doubt, ask. It’s better to confirm these things prior to leaving to avoid nasty surprises at claim time.
Most travel insurance plans will have general exclusions which cite being under the influence of Alcohol or non-prescription drugs. This means that you may not be covered if your accident or injury is a result of the use of a substance which is not in accordance with treatment prescribed by a registered medical practitioner.
Whilst having a glass of wine with dinner probably would not result in a claim being deemed under the influence of alcohol, these activities are something to keep in mind when travelling.
If you are interested in a travel insurance policy, feel free to contact us. As an insurance broker, CCW has access to a large range of travel insurance providers and will be happy to provide assistance on these matters.