When Mr Tay Hong Siang and his friend went to Greece on a vacation last year, they didn't count on falling off a cliff while chasing a robber on their first day there. His friend was hospitalised and they had to extend their stay in Greece.
While public healthcare is free in Greece, the 26-year-old supply chain professional and his companion needed to fork out more money for their extended stay. They also had to change their flights, and cancel all their travel plans.
Thankfully, the bulk of their costs was covered by travel insurance. Mr Tay claimed $2,000, while his friend claimed medical expenses and secured a business-class air ticket back home.
Mr Tay would know the importance of travel insurance; he had been the victim of a snatch thief on an earlier trip to Copenhagen in 2010. He claimed $400 for his lost iPhone on that occasion.
Mr Tay's advice to fellow travellers: get insured. “Don’t take a chance when going overseas”, he said. “You are alone in a country so far away. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Regardless of how "safe" your destination is, or whether you’re a seasoned traveller, the unexpected can happen and it's always prudent to protect yourself with travel insurance.
Travel insurance also covers lost or delayed baggage, and in some cases, items misplaced while overseas.
Ms Vanessa Hang recalled the time she left her DSLR camera at a Taipei airport before boarding the plane back to Singapore. The 24-year-old management associate only realised she had forgotten her camera when she was on the plane.
Immediately after landing at Changi Airport, she turned to airport authorities to check if anyone had handed her camera over. No such luck for her, it turned out.
Once again, travel insurance helped Ms Hang recoup some of her loss. With a report made at the airport and a receipt for the camera, she made a successful claim for about $800.
She might have lost the photos in her camera permanently, but she managed to get a replacement camera with her claim proceeds. The claim was quick as well – it took about a month, said Ms Hang.
However, not everyone is as fortunate.
Travel writer Muhammad Arman Shah bin Rawi, 27, and his travel companion spent nine hours waiting for an internal flight in Vietnam last year, throwing their travel schedule into disarray.
The flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi was supposed to take off at 5pm, he recalled, but it was postponed four times. By the time they boarded the plane it was past 2am, leaving them only an hour in Hanoi before having to move on to their next scheduled stop.
The kicker? They didn't have any form of travel insurance to compensate for their lost time and bad experience. His advice: “Just get yourself insured because you can never predict what will happen when it comes to travelling.”