21 November 2012

Zambia: Travel Insurance Helps in Mitigating Travel Risks

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IT IS now widely accepted that the world is a global village. One can travel thousands of miles in a day to reach distant places which were almost impossible not long ago in the history of mankind.

This has been necessitated by the rapid advance in technology especially with air transport which has seemingly made distances quicker to reach.

Despite this improved technological advancement, travelling to a new or unfamiliar place can be a nightmare especially if you are going there for the first time.

A friend of mine I met in Israel told me how he lost his treasured Ipad at Amsterdam International airport in Holland en-route to Tel Aviv, Israel.

Neither the airline nor the airport authorities could compensate him despite the Ipad missing from their area of control.

Another friend told me a story where his luggage could not be traced in Uganda until after four days. Apparently that was even the time to come back home.

Imagine the inconvenience to my friend in this situation where he had to start buying clothes and other necessities which were not budgeted for. What if the luggage was not found, it would have been a big loss to him.

The common feature between my two friends above was that they had not arranged for insurance prior to the trips.

On a rather good note another person while in Europe lost his suitcase containing personal belongings worth thousands of dollars.

For him he had bought insurance to cover his personal belongings and as soon as he came back from his trip he lodged in a claim from an insurance company and he was paid for all his lost luggage.

Back home in Zambia, not long ago an Emirates plane headed for Dubai had to make a U-turn after developing a fault with a lot of passengers on board.

You can imagine the inconvenience of not only having to incur unplanned expenses but loss of time resulting in loss of business for some while others probably had to cancel their trips because of trauma.

Insurance policies like Overseas Travel Insurance (OTI) are there to mitigate some of the risks above.

In fact in the recent past, OTI has become increasingly popular and some embassies will not issue a visa without insurance.

Therefore the need for OTI arises from two angles. The first one is the mandatory one where it is a prerequisite to issue a visa and the second one arises from a personal need to protect oneself while in a foreign country.

What does OTI really cover?

This policy covers among other things emergency health treatment, hospital bills, evacuation, personal injury, loss or damage of passport/baggage, flight cancellation costs, curtailment, personal effects or travel documents, etc.

Benefits will differ from one insurer to the other and some countries attract higher premium because of certain factors like medical fees, standard of living, political stability, etc.

Like many other Insurance policies the benefits listed above can vary not only from the chosen plan but from Insurer to Insurer. Some Insurers have plans which have different combination of benefits.

It is therefore important to understand what is covered as you buy a product.

One other aspect which is important is to know what to do in case the insured risk occurs. For example, if you fall sick in a foreign country who should you contact?

I heard of someone who fell sick in some country and when he tried to contact the health service provider he could not go through because the phone number given by the Insurer was not in use.

Now if such a basic need cannot be fulfilled then it is meaningless to buy such a policy. Insurance must fulfill its obligation at the point of need.

The expected benefit need to be honoured. However this one incidence is not meant to undermine the benefits of Insurance neither to overlook people who have benefited from the policy under similar circumstances, the point is that people who buy these products must benefit from them accordingly.

They should not have headaches when it comes to claiming but rather have some comfort and relief. They need to enjoy that peace of mind which comes along with buying insurance.

The policy can be arranged on a one off basis covering the insured for the period requested. The other one may be an annual policy for frequent travelers.

What does one need to have to buy OTI?

The basic requirements are copy one's National Registration Certificate (NRC) copy, Passport copy, destination and period of stay. With the information from these documents a quotation can be given.

Actually just over the phone the Insurer is able to give a quote if one gives their age, destination and period of the visit.

Travel Insurance can be bought from a number of Life Assurance Companies in Zambia.

Question for you?

Recently the Republic of Zambia got a $750 million Euro Bond, how can the insurance industry benefit from the same?

Please send your contributions/comments or questions to email: webster_tj@hotmail.com or webster@picz.co.zm or on face book search for Insurance Talk-Zambia page or call/text 0977 857 055

(The Author is a Chartered Insurer with eight years industry experience)

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