Flights cancelled after Mount Agung eruption: 5 things to know about travel insurance

A good practice is to buy travel insurance the moment air tickets and accommodation overseas are reserved. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The eruption of Mount Agung in Bali forced the airport to close, with flights in and out of the Indonesian island cancelled on Monday (Nov 27).

Ngurah Rai International Airport said in a statement that it will be closed for the whole of Monday and reopen on Tuesday morning. A total of 445 flights - 196 international and 249 domestic - were affected, with 59,000 passengers disrupted.

Travel insurance is essential when unexpected events like a volcanic eruption throw your holiday plans into disarray. Here are five things to look out for when purchasing a policy:

1. When should I buy travel insurance?

Most travellers are not aware that they are covered for up to 60 days before the start of a trip.

This means they are covered if the trip is cancelled or postponed due to natural disasters or unexpected outbreak of strikes and riots, among other reasons.

Thus travel insurance should be bought not just a few days before the trip, as most people do, so as to enjoy the maximum privileges of the policy.

A good practice is to buy travel insurance the moment air tickets and accommodation overseas are reserved.

If insurance is purchased only after the incidents happened, the cancellation of the trip will not be covered.

2. Who does it cover?

You should check that the insurance plan should cover the individuals it is intended for, such as senior citizens above 75,babies below six months of age, or someone with special needs such as a pregnant woman.

This may sound very obvious but some insurers do not provide for certain groups, such as emergency-assistance cover for people above the age of 75.

3. What does it cover?

While it is true that travel insurance can only cover so much, we can choose what the "so much" is.

Most travel insurance policies generally cover things like missing luggage and trip cancellations. However, another thing to note these days is terrorism coverage.

Most policies would cover terrorism, but to different extents. Those that include nuclear, biological and chemical attacks would be found only in higher-limit plans.

4. What if I fall sick during my trip?

Singaporeans may be used to the quality of care at home.

But if the same standard of treatment is expected overseas, visiting foreign-run hospitals and clinics overseas - which many would opt for - may cost 10 times more than a public hospital.

This is due to the better medical facilities and internationally qualified staff.

One should also always check if the policy provides for medical evacuation or transport back home or to another hospital better equipped to provide the necessary treatment.

5. What if the travel agency closes down?

For those who booked tours with travel agencies, insurance will cover what they had paid upfront should the agency stop operating suddenly.

This is an especially important point for travellers who are very hands-off in the planning of the trip and would leave everything to the travel agency.

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