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Only 42% of travellers properly insured

December 14, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

I am often surprised at the confidence even experienced travellers have in free travel insurance. “I book everything through my card and insurance is part of the deal – it’s as simple as that,” I was told in Cambodia recently. I had been talking to a doctor who specialises in travel medicine only a few days before who outlined the cost of a recent medical evacuation from Phnom Penh. The person concerned did not have the cover for a private aircraft and was evacuated on commercial flights – at a cost exceeding $100,000. But that’s peanuts to the cost of hospitalisation and then evacuation out of say America, my doctor friend warned. In the US, just a hospital bed will cost $12,000 a day.

According to Talbot Henry, national sales director, SureSave Insurance, a recent Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) survey revealed that 20% of travellers in 2016 took advantage of ‘free’ credit card travel insurance compared to one third of all travellers who purchase via travel agencies. “We believe that a large number of travellers are missing out on adequate cover when purchasing through alternative insurance providers,” he says. “ In fact, DFAT research estimates that only 42% of travellers were properly insured in the last 12 months.

Talbot lists several challenges with ‘complimentary’ travel insurance:
Generally, travel insurance policies available via credit cards require customers to first ‘activate’ their cover; if customers assume cover is automatic, they may later find that they have limited or no cover. The criteria required for activation can vary between different providers, however in most cases a certain amount of the customer’s trip must be pre-paid on their credit card, although there can be other criteria, too.

Often, credit card insurance policies have age restrictions that are not always stated up front.

It is also important to check whether a policy covers a traveller’s existing medical condition(s) – and what restrictions apply.
Customers should check what excess payments are required when claiming on a credit card policy. Travel insurance specialists often allow travellers to choose their own excess amount to best suit their needs.

Travel insurance is not ‘one size fits all’, but most ‘complimentary’ credit card travel insurance assume that travellers are. SureSave encourages travellers to find cover that meets their needs, and activities, with the ability to tailor their policy to suit their trip. For example, travellers wishing to participate in winter sports and water sports should check that their travel insurance covers these activities.

Finally, travellers relying on credit card insurance should also consider the quality of assistance they will receive, Henry adds. His recommendation to travellers is to leave the task of evaluating and buying travel insurance to the experts – travel agents. “Agents play a critical role when it comes to travel safety, ensuring that their customers are not left under-insured, paying too much or missing out on key benefits.”

Written by Ian McIntosh

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