Flight tickets, check. Accommodation, check. List of things to do and places to go, check. What else? Oh yeah, need to buy travel insurance too. You know, just in case. Also it’s not like the pandemic is over.
But which travel insurance to buy? Which one is the best?
Spoiler alert, this article is sponsored by Tune Protect, but they specifically reached out to me so I can create educational content about travel insurance. Here’s what I will cover:
- Part 1: What you MUST include in your travel insurance (non-negotiable)
- Part 2: What travel insurance does NOT cover (just how it’s designed)
- Part 3: Where and how to buy travel insurance (how much coverage is enough?)
- Part 4: How to buy travel insurance for cheap(er)
- Part 5: How to claim travel insurance
Part 1: What you MUST include in your travel insurance (non-negotiable)
Of course the answer is ‘it depends’, but to me, there are 4 non-negotiable things I need before I buy travel insurance. I won’t even look at the product if they don’t include good coverage for:
- Trip Cancellation/Curtailment – in case trip is cancelled or cut short – the higher the better
- Personal Accident – in case accidents happen – the higher the better
- Medical Expenses – in case accidents happen – the higher the better
- Covid-19 – in case get infected – the more comprehensive the better
Only after these are satisfied, I’ll look at the ‘nice-to-haves’, like:
- Price – I don’t look for cheap, I look for value for money, discounts and contests, if any
- Home Care Benefit – if house got burglary or fire while away
- Travel Delay – if flight is delayed without enough notice. Tip: get a written confirmation by the flight operator
- Baggage Damage/Delay – If luggage lost/destroyed
- And others
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Travel Delay and Baggage Damage/Delay isn’t important to me, it is. In fact, according to Tune Protect, these two alone make up a combined 90% of claims.
But inconveniences and loss of items are temporary problems – I’ll forget about it in a month, maybe two, while the consequences of an unfortunate accident are more long-lasting. So I highly suggest you prioritise health-related coverages first before travel inconveniences.
Part 2: What travel insurance does NOT cover (just how it’s designed)
Your travel insurance will NOT reimburse your claim if it does not satisfy its T&C as stated in the Policy Wording document.
Each travel insurance provider will word their policies a bit differently, but the Trip Cancellation clause under Travel Easy by Tune Protect states the following (bold my own addition):
We will reimburse for loss of irrecoverable deposits or charges paid in advance for the Trip only in the event of unavoidable cancellation of all or one of the following:
- Air ticket
- hotel/accommodation expense
- local tour package
- admission tickets
In the following situations:
- if you are tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days prior to your departure date (Note: only under Covid Plus Plan)
- Insured event (Death, Permanent Total Disablement or an admission as an in-patient in a Hospital where such admission is Medically Necessary; occurring to You, Your Immediate Family Members or Travel Companion within 14 days prior to Your original scheduled departure date
- a fire or natural disaster resulting in serious damage to Your Home or destination of planned trip.
- natural disasters such volcanic eruption, flood, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or wildfire occurring at destination of planned trip.
Therefore, you WON’T be reimbursed for Trip Cancellation if:
- a second cousin is admitted to the hospital (not You, Your Immediate Family Members or Travel Companion), or
- due to a fire at your workplace (not Your Home or destination), and
- you certainly can’t make a claim if you just cancel your trip for funsies
But if you paid a hefty sum for, say Hajj or Pilgrimage package and tested positive for Covid-19 days before departure, then this counts – Tune Protect will reimburse you for Trip Cancellation (subject to other clauses).
Other standard exclusions
In addition, most (if not all) travel insurance products apply many standard exclusions, including:
- Any illegal or unlawful intention act by You
- Any Pre-Existing Condition
- Death or injury directly or indirectly occasioned by war
- And more
The full coverages and exclusions will be covered under a document called Policy Wording document, and it is generally quite long and legalese (it has to be – precision of word matters). Open the Travel Easy Policy Wording Document by Tune Protect to see how it looks.
Don’t be too overwhelmed by the document. After all, you have already listed your priorities (see #1 again). You just need to skim 3-5 sections, not every single thing.
Part 3: Where and how to buy travel insurance (how much coverage is enough?)
Now comes the next questions: Where to buy travel insurance in Malaysia? How to buy travel insurance?
Where to buy travel insurance in Malaysia?
Hint: I wouldn’t worry too much about ‘bad’ travel insurance providers or avoiding that one particular company because that one time your cousin/friend didn’t get the claim they asked for.
The thing is, if the travel insurance provider is licensed by Bank Negara Malaysia and you have a valid claim, you WILL get your money. If not, you can:
- Submit a complaint at BNM Financial Consumers Inquiries and Complaints
- Lodge a dispute at the Ombudsman of Financial Services
So go ahead and buy your travel insurance from any of companies listed on the Financial Sector Participants Directory in BNM website. These companies are regulated under strict and comprehensive legal frameworks:
- Financial Services Act 2013
- Islamic Financial Services Act 2013, and
- Insurance Act 1996
How to buy travel insurance?
As for how to buy travel insurance in Malaysia, generally speaking you can get them via 2 ways:
- Via agent, or
- Via online
Personally, I prefer online because it is easier to learn more about the products and compare prices. There are also discounts via online purchase – you know me, I like saving money!
Bonus question from RoR audience: How much coverage is enough?
How much coverage should you get for your travel insurance? You might see various travel insurance products offering Medical Expenses and Personal Accident coverage from RM100,000 all the way up to RM1,000,000!
For me, I am personally comfortable with the RM300,000 in Medical Expenses and RM300,000 in Personal Accident coverage offered under all plans from Travel Easy by Tune Protect. You might want to get higher coverage if the country you are traveling to is known to have super expensive healthcare.
However, I wouldn’t worry excessively to the point of paranoia. Tune Protect informed me that the highest amount of claim they have paid out for Medical Expenses is RM30,000. Not a small amount, but not six or seven-figures either.
Part 4: How to buy travel insurance for cheap(er)
First, I should share with you the 4 factors that decide the price of travel insurance in Malaysia:
- Destination – The further away the location from Malaysia, the higher the price. Note: If you are going to a couple of destinations, the furthest location will be used in the quotation
- Type of plan – Basic plans are cheaper, extensive plans with better sum coverage are more expensive
- No of pax – Individual plans are cheaper than family or group plans
- Duration – The longer your trip, the higher the price
Like buying other types of protection products, I believe in getting a few quotations. Here’s what you can do:
- Step 1: Get 3 or so travel insurance quotation online
- Step 2: Look at what each of them offers for your non-negotiables (see #1)
- Step 3: Make your purchase
How the process of buying travel insurance looks like
It is easy to get a travel insurance quotation online. Just go to travel insurance providers of your choice and fill in your trip information, and they will spit out the quotations. My suggestion is to include Travel Easy by Tune Protect as price benchmark.
Note that each travel insurance provider usually offers a few types of plans, and not all will apply to you so take them out of consideration. For example, there are 3 plans under Travel Easy by Tune Protect, but I know I will only consider the Covid Plus plan because Travel Cancellation due to Covid-19 is non-negotiable to me.
(Thanks to my preference for cheap but non-refundable flights, it’s too much money to potentially lose if I go without it)
For a 1-week hypothetical trip to Australia, the Covid Plus plan from Travel Easy by Tune Protect will cost me RM58.65. I will repeat this process and get quotations from at least 2 other companies.
Now that I have 3 quotations, I will look at price. I mentioned that I look for value for money rather than cheap. I look for discounts, promos and contests.
In this case, Travel Easy by Tune Protect is running a Buy early, save 15% + 25% promo – you’ll get 15% discount for buying at least a month early PLUS 25% discount for buying online.
Here’s an idea of how much you’ll save, depending on where you’re going.
Will all these information, and factoring in coverage and price, I will compare the 3 plans and make my travel insurance selection.
Bonus question from RoR audience: Does travel insurance work on Cashless admission or pay first claim later?
- (1) unless stated otherwise, many travel insurance works on pay first, claim later basis, and
- (2) cashless admission is more expensive
I wouldn’t mind no (2) if the difference is a little bit, but it can be a lot.
My quotation for the hypothetical 1-week trip to Australia from Travel Easy by Tune Protect are just RM36, RM40.16 or RM58.65, depending on the plan. With another provider, my quotation for the same trip WITH cashless admission ranged from RM117 to RM294. That’s like 3x to 6x the price!
Ultimately, whichever you pick is up to you – cashless admission to the hospital might be YOUR non-negotiable when choosing and buying travel insurance. But considering everything, it’s not mine.
Part 5: How to claim travel insurance
I hope nothing bad happens and you have the most amazing time in your life, but in case something does, there’s where travel insurance comes in. Let’s learn how to make a claim.
The process is usually like so:
- Step 1: Get the medical help needed first
- Step 2: Contact your travel insurance provider
- Step 3: Collect information/documents needed
- Step 4: Submit claim
- Step 5: Receive claim
You will see information related to assistance and claims easily on the product page. For example, this is how Travel Easy by Tune Protect displays its Travel 24/7 Emergency Assistance number and claim guidelines.
When you buy travel insurance, you should also receive the information plus a copy of the policy document in your email. So if something happens on your trip, you can quickly check your email or the product page to look for the information you need. I would also suggest you save the hotline number on your phone.
One thing I hear a lot is ‘sure there’s a number, but will they actually reply?’. I asked this to the sponsor of this article, Tune Protect and they said they don’t know about others, but they have a 3-3-3 Brand Promise:
- 3 minutes to buy
- 3 hours to reply
- 3 days to receive claim upon approval
I’m fortunate enough to have never needed to contact my travel insurance provider while traveling, so I’d love to hear from you – share your experience in the comments section!
Bonus question from RoR audience: Is it easy to get admitted in foreign country?
It’s hard to answer this question because the ease of getting medical help greatly varies depending on the medical infrastructure and processes of the country you’re visiting.
However, what you MUST do is seek professional medical practitioners – you need official documents for the claim process.
Traveling with peace of mind
The older I get, the more I value peace of mind. Travel insurance is something I never go without anymore. And if it’s something I have to get, might as well learn how to purchase it, correct or not?
Lastly, thanks again to the sponsor of this article, Travel Easy by Tune Protect. You can read about a successful claim from their customer here, and feel free to share your experience with Tune Protect in the comments section, if you have any 🙂