Think travel, think insurance

The more you travel, the more you are exposed to potential financial risks and physical loss, says AIG’s Teo


Hopping over to Bangkok or Jakarta for a short visit is something more and more Malaysians are doing today. Planning for a travel trip is certainly a breeze with all the gadgets at our disposal and it is getting cheaper as well.

According to Teo, AIG offers travel insurance from as low as RM10 a day

But how many think about getting the appropriate insurance coverage when they travel? When you think of Bangkok, how many are aware of the high number of motorcycle accidents in that Thai capital? And risks abound elsewhere, too.

“The more you travel, the more you are exposed to financial risks and physical loss,” said Alice Teo, AIG Malaysia Insurance Bhd’s head of affinity marketing for personal insurance.

With the rise of low-cost carriers and cheap accommodation by home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb, the number of people travelling is only expected to increase.

Aside from risks like motorcycle accidents, they face numerous other potential scenarios. Recently, travellers were exposed to natural disasters like the earthquake in Kota Kinabalu or the unleashing of volcanic ash by Mount Agung in Bali, Indonesia.

In the latest incidents, the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok was hit by two successive earthquakes. On July 29, it was hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that killed 17 people and briefly stranded several hundred trekkers on the slopes of a volcano. Then, the force of Mother Nature struck again on Aug 5 when a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the north coast of the island.

The death toll from the powerful second earthquake topped 100 as rescuers found victims under wrecked buildings, while thousands left homeless in the worst-affected areas waited for aid to arrive, Reuters reported.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly hit by earth- quakes. In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Thousands of tourists have left Lombok since the earthquake, fearing further earthquakes, some on extra flights that were laid on by airlines and some on ferries to Bali. Officials said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated from the three Gili Islands off the northwest coast of Lombok, where fears of a tsunami spread soon after the quake, according to the report.

How Much to Pay?

So, what can travellers do? “Having the right travel insurance helps to protect you from travel disruptions, unexpected mishaps or medical emergencies that may end up costing you a lot of money,” said Teo.

Travellers are bound to ask if it is worth paying that extra bit.

“Travel insurance is very affordable when weighed against the cost of your trip and the financial risks that you face. AIG offers travel insurance from as low as RM10 a day — that’s the price of a cup of coffee for peace of mind!

“We find that more travellers are seeking insurance providing greater coverage in the event of unforeseen circumstances. They are looking for travel insurance that is not only comprehensive, but also with a customer-centric approach and support, and ease of purchase to have peace of mind when travelling,” she said.

A motorcycle accident in Thailand can easily set you back with medical bills running from RM23,000 to RM250,000, according to 2017 estimates by the Bangkok office of Euro-Centre, a global medical assistance and claims handling company.

Right Coverage

Travellers need to be more aware of some of the potential risks they take when they travel. That awareness will help them in crafting the right insurance coverage. There are various options from numerous insurance providers.

Different service providers will have plans with different levels of coverage and product features. The price will vary according to destination, duration and choice of plan.

Generally, major benefits covered by travel insurance are medical, personal accidents, travel inconvenience and other travel-related benefits and 24-hours worldwide travel assistance.

In addition, travellers can choose to purchase optional rider benefits which extend coverage to include golfing equipment and participation in special sports such as winter sports activities and scuba diving.

“You should ensure that the travel insurance provides the right coverage for your trips and that the coverage is sufficient as medical cost in some countries and locations are high.

“You are also encouraged to understand the type and nature of coverage and circumstances or conditions that might not be covered under the insurance policy,” said Teo.—TMR