By Nixon Shigoli
Many people when planning a journey – a vacation, family visit or a business trip – often don’t factor in travel insurance. Yet this type of insurance offers crucial protection against financial risks associated with travel like illness, injury, trip cancellation and luggage loss.
Like other types of insurance, the purpose of travel insurance is to guard the insured against financial losses arising from a particular activity. Anything can happen when you are travelling and, therefore, you need to plan for emergencies that may potentially ruin your trip.
There is a mistaken belief that one doesn’t need travel insurance if they already have a medical cover. Truth is, such policies only offer limited protection particularly if you are travelling abroad. You will still have to settle hospital bills out of your pocket. Travel insurance takes care of such unanticipated costs in the event travel plans go awry.
Apart from managing the risk of unexpected health issues, a travel policy also covers unbudgeted expenses related to delayed flights, like extra hotel and meal charges. If it has a personal liability clause, the policy will cater for legal expenses related to third party claims for damage to property or person injury.
The insurer may also compensate for loss of luggage and personal valuables like money and documents. Imagine landing at your dream holiday destination only to discover you have lost your belongings during the journey. Such events are common hence the need to plan for any eventuality.
And contrary to perceptions, travel covers are not expensive. For as little as Ksh 2,500 per cover, you can insure yourself and family against any inconveniences encountered during the policy term. In the digital era, one can easily buy travel insurance online and get the policy in a matter of minutes. This allows you to get covered at short notice, for instance, when you make a quick business trip. You simply purchase the cover from the comfort of your home or office.
Another advantage is that claims are normally settled within a short time and one is guaranteed they will not suffer financial loss. If not insured, you will have to pursue compensation with the airline for lost luggage, which may take long and there is no assurance that you will be reimbursed. However, for the claim to be paid promptly, the insured must furnish the insurance company with all the relevant documents.
Some trip insurance policies include compensation in the unlikely event of a hijack and detention. Additionally, some countries, including those in the Schengen region require travel insurance as mandatory criteria for entry. Going to study abroad? It is prudent to have travel insurance that can be renewed annually.
In the pandemic era, disruptions to travel including sudden flight bans and lockdowns are a real risk. At AAR Insurance, we have been educating our clients on the benefits of having insurance when travelling in the prevailing environment where one could also fall sick with the virus while on vacation or attending a business conference. As you plan your journey, consult your insurer on the best package for your trip. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind and ensures that even when you are in a foreign land, you can be assisted in case you encounter any of the covered risks.
And if you need to return home to attend to an emergency, that will not be a problem. Some covers even provide for loss of income in case you are injured during a trip, whereby you get paid some amount of money for a set period.
In short, the benefits far outweigh the cost of premiums but most importantly, you know that if things go wrong, you will not be financially devastated.
(Nixon Shigoli is the MD, AAR Insurance Kenya).