Safe travel means holding a travel insurance policy

By Sudibyo M. Wiradji. Originally published in The Jakarta Post on October 18, 2017

Aditya (not his real name) had prepared everything for a two week holiday to Europe, expect for travel insurance.

courtesy of tourradar

The 39-year-old manager of a private company had traveled overseas several times but had sneezed at the idea of needing insurance as he left everything to Yang di atas, another way of saying to God.

But this time around he felt a bit unwell as he had a cough, followed sometimes by sneezing. In addition to that, the reports of a suicide bombing after an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, UK on May 22, 2017, were still fresh in his mind.

Aditya thought about the unpredictable things that might happen during his next trip, which resulted in his decision to purchase a travel insurance policy to help ensure safe travels. So in addition to his passport and visa, he also bought a travel insurance policy for his September 2017 holiday. Aditya is not alone, however. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Indonesians who travel overseas are beginning to become aware of the importance of holding an insurance policy to ensure safety away from home.

But when it comes to taking advantage of the benefits that a travel insurance firm offers, knowledge and travel insurance related experience come into play.

For Aditya, holding a travel insurance policy for the first time was a lesson learned, even though he encountered inconvenience at first.

He admitted that the inconvenience was his fault. “I did not read the rules of the travel insurance certificate carefully,” he said.

Two days prior to his departure for Singapore, on his way back to Indonesia after his trip to Europe, his cough had gotten worse and he was sneezing frequently, prompting him to visit a medical clinic’s doctor, he showed the travel insurance certificate to an administrative staff member.

“She told me that I should pay for the medical consultation and medicine first and that the insurance company would reimburse me,” he recollected. “Oh … How much?, ‘I asked her.”

“The news that I had to use my own money first startled me but I didn’t want to show this to her,” he said.

“She told me that I had to pay €400 (about Rp 6 million). After politely saying, ‘let me think it over’, I left the clinic,” he murmured.

Aditya explained that he made the decision not to continue with his treatment at the medical clinic not because he did not have the money but because he was haunted by the uncertainty of making a claim to the insurance company in Indonesia from which he bought the policy. It turned out that the uncertainty that haunted him was unfounded.

“The insurance company will definitely reimburse medical expenses that you pay for the first because the coverage includes medical expenses. Just read the rules of the insurance certificate carefully,” said his friend, who had previously had a similar experience.

For insurance-minded Rajiv, 45, a president of Jakarta, safeguarding his travels has benefited him, “as long as we know what to do when an incident happens,” he said.

Once he had to attend a conference in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan and had to transit through Dubai Airport first. Upon arrival in Baku, he failed to find his luggage and so reported it to the airline, which gave him a missing items report.

He later learned that his luggage had not been lost but had been delayed because it had mistakenly been transferred to another airplane in transit.

“When I arrived in Jakarta, I visited the insurance firm where I bought the policy to make a claim. I showed them my policy certificate, boarding pass, airline ticket and the missing items report and received US $500 in compensation for the two-day-delay of my luggage,” he said.

Certainly, not very traveler encounters an incident.

Indonesia’s middle class, to which Aditya and Rajiv belong, has been on the rise over the last couple of years in Indonesia, indicated by, among other things, the rise in the number of Indonesians travelling overseas, either for leisure or for business trips.

The number of Indonesian tourist travelling to Japan for example, increased by 30 percent to 270,000 in 2016, according to Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Masafumi Ishii.

Does the increase in the number of Indonesians traveling overseas mean a boon for the travel insurance industry? How aware are people of the importance of holding a travel insurance policy when they travel?

Several major insurance companies that offer travel insurance products are taking advantage of the growing demand for travel insurance products.

Sompo Insurance, for example, initially focused on selling OTPA (overseas travel personal accidents) policies to the company’s corporate clients. In 2016 Sompo Insurance began to sell travel insurance on a retail basis, under the name TravelFirst.

Despite being a new presence on the Indonesian market, the company has years of experience in travel insurance from its regional office in Singapore and its head office in Japan. “We are confident that our distinct travel insurance product, TravelFirst, provides more suitable coverage than other products on the marlet,” said Ratna Indrayani, executive offer retail marketing at Sompo Insurance Indonesia, confidently.

courtesy of cloudfront.net

Sompo TravelFirst offers comprehensive products based on customers’ needs and, as stated by Maria Susana, had of travel business unit, TravelFirst protects travelers during their trips as well as during their returns to Indonesia.

The company’s main coverage includes medical benefits and services, personal accident assistance, travel assistance and life style assistance. Morever, “We also have additional coverage for underwater activities to home protection that will suit either those who are care-free and dynamic as well as those who travel with their family,” said the companys’s Travel Business Unit Head Maria Susana.

Sompo Insurance has identified two types of travelers. The first are travelers that hold travel insurance policies because they have encountered an incident or inconvenience while traveling previously. This type accounts for 20 percent.

The second type are travelers that hold travel insurance policies as part of the requirements set by Schengen, US Embassy or by travel consultants. This type accounts for the remaining 80 percent. Schengen countries include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

“Sompo Insurance Indonesia will focus on international out bound sales as well as domestic destination products,” stated Ratna Indrayani.

Meanwhile, old player Zurich Indonesia said that Indonesia had seen positive growth in the travel insurance industry over the last couple of years, with travelers increasingly aware of the need to protect their life, health and belongings while overseas.

Zurich Indonesia, which started offering travel insurance products in 2012, has recorded growth of more than 46 percent as of August 2017, thanks largely to the company’s efforts to provide comprehensive products that cater to the needs of every customer.

In the digital era Zurich has also targeted millennials as one of its main target markets. “We have also developed digital platforms, Zurich click and eClaim, that enable customers to have easy access to Zurich Travel Insurance products and services,” said the company’s Travel and Alternative Distribution head Rialita Lubis.

More and more travel insurance products are entering the market, proving greater options for travelers. For many, safe travel means holding a travel insurance policy.