How to shop for travel insurance

While travel can be one of the most exciting and rewarding life experiences there is, it can also be one of the riskiest. Anything and everything can happen the moment you remove yourself from the familiar comforts of home. Before you leave Hong Kong and embark on your grand world tour, you should look into getting travel insurance for your trip. Here we review some of the most crucial items to watch out for when signing up for a policy.

While these criteria are catered for travelers based out of Hong Kong, it is certainly applicable to global travellers as well. We’ve partnered with MoneyHero to help you shop and compare travel insurance plans for your trip. There are literally dozens of travel insurance providers in HK (even banks will re-sell travel insurance), I’ve found MoneyHero is the easiest way to compare them all on a single screen.

Your Destination
Not all tourist destinations are equal, and some insurers may charge you a higher premium depending on where you intend to go. If your trip shall cover multiple countries, make sure that they’re all covered and expect your premium to go up accordingly. Insurers may also make exclusions in their coverage, such as in the case of conflict-ridden areas.

In Hong Kong, many travel insurers separate policies into regions, such as Asia, global excluding North America, and global including North America. One of the main reasons is that health care in the US is exceptionally expensive. Be sure you are covered in the destination you are traveling to.

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Your Premium
Naturally, one of your biggest considerations when signing up for insurance is the cost. Providers may give you the option of getting blanket coverage for several months’ time or coverage restricted to a single trip. Whichever you choose will depend on how old you are and how frequently you travel.

In Hong Kong, you may opt to get insurance either for a single trip or for a whole year’s worth of travel. Often I find the annual plan only marginally more expensive than a single trip. If this is the case and you plan on traveling a few times a year, it might be a no-brainer to sign up for the annual plan.

Last year I signed up for an annual plan, and had dozens of trips. It paid for itself when I had delayed baggage and put in the claim, which was successfully honored.

Baggage and Personal Items Cover
While traveling, you may be carrying highly valuable items such as your passport or laptop. Having baggage and personal items cover means that the insurer will reimburse the cost of your belongings should they get stolen or lost in transit. Note that some insurers may impose a price limit on their coverage, so ask your provider about how high their coverage goes.

I find this to be the most common incident when I travel. I always check to see how many hours it takes for this coverage to come into effect. The shorter the number of hours, the greater chance this policy will cover you.

Medical Cover
Not to be confused with your standard health insurance plan, travel health insurance provides coverage for illnesses, injuries and other medical emergencies unique to your trip. When applying for medical cover, note that many insurers do not cater to certain pre-existing conditions. Pay close attention to the particulars of your policy such as medication, inpatient treatment and ambulance costs.

If you’re traveling to a country with high medical costs, such as the US, I really suggest looking into plans that will cover you in case anything should happen. This is another important aspect I look for when shopping for travel insurance coverage. I can usually handle the cost to replace a lost bag, but I won’t be able to pay for any high priced medical emergencies.

Cancellation Cover
Airfare these days isn’t cheap, which means that you’re in big trouble if your trip gets delayed or cancelled. A policy with coverage for trip cancellation and/or trip interruption should be able to reimburse you for the cost of your ticket. The more comprehensive policies may also reimburse your ticket should you cancel your journey for any reason. Usually though, you need a medical reason to cancel.

Sports and other Outdoor Activities
Spraining your ankle while climbing the Spanish Steps in Rome is quite different from spraining your ankle while hang-gliding in Australia. When providing medical coverage, some insurers make a distinction when it comes to injuries sustained from extreme sports like skiing, mountain climbing and whitewater rafting. Known as adventure travel insurance in some areas, this niche coverage is specially geared towards travelers who engage in more high-risk pastimes. Read the fine print on your medical cover to single out any sports-related exceptions.

Other Considerations

As a rule of thumb, travel insurance premiums tend to get higher the older you are. Medical covers may have separate clauses in the case of accidents that result in death and/or dismemberment. In a worst-case scenario, you should check your policy’s provisions towards funeral expenses and repatriation of remains.

Most of the providers in HK are financially sound so I wouldn’t have too much concern about them being unable to cover your claim. Here’s a partial list of travel insurance providers for your consideration in no particular order:

MONEYHERO

Before you commit to travel insurance, compare rates among different insurance providers to find the best bargains. In addition, some credit cards aimed towards frequent flyers may also come bundled with their own basic travel insurance. You can use MoneyHero to apply for the cheapest travel insurance in Hong Kong.

 

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