More and more Ugandan citizens are interested to travel abroad these days as the appeal of international holidays and work-related trips remains strong.
According to a recent report from the credit card company Visa, the overseas spending of Ugandans is expected to double over the next decade.
As travelling becomes an increasingly popular activity, there are rising concerns about safety and security issues that surround it.
These range from annoying problems like flight cancellations and loss of luggage to potentially serious health issues that require immediate evacuation from a foreign country.
This is where a travel insurance becomes relevant. Depending on the company and the plan that you choose, a travel insurance can cover unexpected expenses that you may encounter on your trip and ensure you have peace of mind.
However, in order to make the most of it, it is important to understand how this particular type of insurance works.
How to buy a travel insurance
Once you have decided to buy a travel insurance, the first step is to have a clear understanding of your current financial situation and existing covers like health and life insurances.
This will help you understand if the coverage provided by the travel insurance is adequate for your requirements. If you are on a business trip, find out if your company provides any travel insurance cover.
Travel insurances can be bought directly from insurance companies or through agents or brokers who work as intermediaries.
Different kinds of travel insurance
Travel insurances plans can be broadly classified into four main types based on the nature of the coverage they provide.
A single trip insurance is usually meant to provide coverage for specific, short trips beginning and ending in Singapore.
An annual insurance covers trips beginning and ending in Singapore throughout a year, plus while choosing these kinds of travel insurance there would be a lot of promotion according to the plan selection which could be a great saving.
Individual plans, as the name implies, provide insurance coverage to a single individual. Family plans cover the policyholder’s immediate family members.
Insurance companies often like to divide the policies further based on the country or area that you are travelling to. Select a travel insurance that matches your requirements.
What is covered and what is not
While the specifics of your coverage would depend on the policy that you end up choosing, there are a few key benefits that are provided by most travel insurance policies.
Personal accident: In the unfortunate event of you encountering an accident that results in death or any form of permanent disability, you are entitled to claim the benefits of the policy.
Reimbursement of medical expenses: A travel insurance may cover costs of any medical treatment undertaken during your trip and follow-up treatments once you get back to Uganda. In case of injuries or health conditions that require immediate evacuation, the policy will cover the costs of transportation.
Cancellation of a trip: If you are forced to cancel your trip for certain reasons that are mentioned in the policy’s terms and conditions, you are entitled to get refunds on any irrecoverable payments already made.
Delays: Travel insurances also cover trip delays, allowing the policyholder to claim benefits for the time lost. However, note that not all delays are the same and the insurer may specify certain reasons of delay that warrant coverage.
Loss of possessions: Claims can also be made for issues like loss of baggage, documents and money.
While these benefits are attractive, there are certain exclusions that also require careful consideration. These usually include injuries due to self-harm, health conditions that existed prior to taking the trip, issues that might result from engaging in hazardous activities, mental health problems, natural disasters and war. Trips to certain countries deemed dangerous may also be excluded from the policy.
How to claim reimbursements
Depending on your reason for the claim, there are certain procedures to be followed to receive reimbursements. In most cases, policyholders will have to submit documents that substantiate their claim to benefits. These may include flight tickets, medical or police reports, or anything else that validates your statements.
For instance, claims for trip delay will have to be accompanied by a letter from the airline verifying your statement, explaining the reason for the delay and providing the original and delayed travel dates. If your luggage is delayed, forcing you to spend money on things like clothes, any claim will have to be made with receipts of the transaction. The basic procedure is as follows:
Contact the insurer: If you feel you are entitled to any benefits as per your policy, contact the insurance company at the earliest. Some policies may stipulate the number of days you are allowed to wait before making a claim. Get the relevant forms depending on your situation and fill them up carefully. In case of claiming benefits for sickness, you may need to get a concerned medical practitioner to certify that the said condition did not exist before commencing the journey.
Prepare supporting documents and apply: Make sure you have all the required supporting documents. These range from documents proving you made the trip to specific reports verifying the problems that you encountered. The earlier you apply, the more time you have to make sure you have all of them.
Wait and follow up: After submitting the application and the relevant documents, all you can do is wait for the insurance company to make a decision. The waiting period may vary depending on various factors but you may want to followup on the issue if nothing is heard after a fortnight.
If your claims are refused: Due to the nature of the insurance industry and chances of people trying to take advantage of the system, there are bound to be instances where you may not receive a satisfactory response from the insurer. In such cases, you can appeal to the Insurance Regulatory Authority, a government entity overseeing the sector and also involved in resolving disputes between financial firms and customers.
Travel insurances should be considered an integral part of your travel planning because, unfortunately, at the end of the day, the undeniable fact is that travel involves a lot of uncertainty.
Regardless of whether you are going on a holiday or taking a business trip, buying a travel insurance policy will ensure you have peace of mind.
BY PAUL TENTENA