With the Eid Al Adha holidays coming up next week, UAE airports are expected to buzz with families and friends taking some time off work, and just before the school season is upon us. In a country like the UAE, frequent outbound travel is inevitable with a population of about 90 per cent expatriates, but many holidaymakers are often at risk of facing serious financial repercussions by not taking measures to adequately cover themselves in the event of a travel emergency.
Let’s face it: missed or cancelled flights, lost luggage and even medical emergencies do happen. So, why do people invest so much time, money and energy in planning the perfect trip, and yet forget to ensure peace of mind by taking out travel insurance? Studies show that false assumptions around travel insurance are often the culprit in these cases. Here are the five most common myths that usually stand in the way of holidaymakers securing peace of mind while on the go:
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Assuming travel insurance is expensive. People often mistakenly think that travel insurance is too expensive, whereas it only costs Dh50 for a five-day policy. As a result, travellers are at the risk of leaving too much to chance and hoping for the best. For such a minimal amount, peace of mind should be a priority to truly enjoy the time off without worrying about unplanned events. It is also important to remember that when the unthinkable does happen, travellers would have to attend to a far more significant financial burden.
Thinking that your employer’s health insurance includes travel coverage. Even if you do have travel insurance coverage through your health provider, there are still limitations and exclusions as to what you will be covered for. You could be restricted by case, geographical areas or other factors. Putting assumptions aside, it is important to a) find out whether your health insurance contains any travel insurance coverage b) what the coverage policy encompasses and c) make a well-thought out decision as to whether that coverage is extensive enough to cover all eventualities during your travels.
Thinking that you will be able to book your travel insurance later. So, you have sorted all your bookings for the next vacation and promised yourself that you will buy insurance later. You may want to rethink your approach as it defies the purpose of having travel insurance in place. Insurance protects you from unexpected events from the moment you have financially committed to a trip until you are safely back home. For example, what if your travel companion suffers from an accident and the trip has to be cancelled? If you wait until the last minute to buy insurance with a trip cancellation cover, you would lose those prepaid ticket flights and hotel bookings. It is, therefore, wiser to purchase it as soon as you have your bookings locked down.
Falsely reassuring yourself that your booking will be refunded by the airline or hotel. In case of unforeseen circumstances, wishful thinking rarely helps. Even if the hotel isn’t paid for in advance, cancellation rules could cost you one night or the entire stay. Airline tickets, attraction tickets, and other pre-paid travel plans are rarely refundable. Travel insurance is often the only way to get that money back.
Next time you are planning for a vacation, don’t exclude insurance from your plans. Having protection against the unforeseen is the best way to truly enjoy your vacation and immerse yourself in new culture and traditions without worrying about the unexpected. The last thing you need is to dedicate your time and energy to lost baggage or medical emergencies when it should all be devoted to a relaxing time off.
(Smitha D’ Silva is Head of Underwriting, Direct & Affinity Channels, RSA.)