Travel insurance may seem like a frivolous offer at first. Surely, one could do without risk coverage while on a holiday. But if the saying “better safe than sorry” is anything to go by, insurance for your travel ought to be a necessity.
AIG Malaysia Insurance chief executive officer Antony Lee says people’s reluctance to purchase travel insurances generally stems from the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. He warns that reality can sometimes be far from rosy, though.
“There are quite a number of things that can go wrong, from the smaller incidents such as delays and loss of baggage to the more serious cases such as an accident in a foreign country where nobody speaks your language,” Lee offers via email.
He cites the recent Nepal disaster as an example where immediate repatriation was processed within 72 hours of the earthquake.
“These cases are real and, in many instances, lives are saved because we are able to assist travellers at their time of need,” says Lee.
He says the higher frequency of travel today potentially leads to a higher chance of things going wrong, making it important to have travel insurance.
Based on AIG’s latest claims data, medical claims take up around 50% of total claims, on average. This is followed closely by trip cancellations and baggage delays, loss or damage.
There are, however, some things that travellers can do to stay safe during their trip.
“It is important to have some basic principles when travelling, such as learning the local laws of the place you are travelling to, safeguarding your travel documents by making copies and leaving them with someone back home, notifying family or friends about your whereabouts, and keeping your passport on you at all times,” Lee shares. “And of course, having a travel insurance plan with all the relevant 24/7 contact information available, in case an emergency happens,” he adds.
Earlier this year, AIG launched the Firefly Travel Protection, a new travel insurance in collaboration with low-cost carrier Firefly. Coverage includes medical assistance of up to RM75,000, acts of terrorism, hijacking and natural disasters.
According to Firefly chief executive officer Ignatius Ong, the pairing of travel and insurance is one that ultimately just makes sense.
“Having travel insurance gives the traveller peace of mind, thus enhancing the overall travel experience,” he says via email. Ong adds that Firefly’s collaboration with AIG has made purchasing travel insurance easier.
After selecting their flight on Firefly’s website, passengers will be directed to a new page where purchase of the Firefly Travel Protection can be done at a click of a mouse.
Ong notes that the declining ringgit also spells lower consumer spending. It’s important for the insurance sector to acknowledge this trend, in addition to other factors.
“Besides being affordable to cater to the price-sensitive market, good travel insurance should take into account the habits of the modern traveller and the volatility in the schedules of today’s travellers, and offer a versatile set of coverages,” he explains.
In relation to the weak ringgit, Lee says, they are expecting a challenging period in the near future,
“Regardless of the challenges, we are committed to investing in educating travellers on the importance and value of travel insurance,” he concludes.