How Travel Insurance Can Save Your Next Trip

Even though I have been traveling for more than 30 years, I never bothered with travel insurance, typically because I was too cheap until I learned my lesson---almost the hard way. If you are trying to decide whether you need travel insurance, then this article is for you!

In 2014, I was off to Myanmar via Singapore when my first flight was delayed for two hours due to Tropical Storm Fung-wong (Philippine code name: Mario). My layover was also for two hours so you do the math. If I missed my connecting flight, I would have to stay overnight until the next available flight, which would be the following day at my own expense, since it was not the airline’s fault. That would mean that before I had even reached my final destination, my wallet could potentially get drained. Mercifully, as soon I landed in Singapore, an electric airport cart was waiting to zoom me to the boarding gate of my next flight.

benefits of travel insurance
Copyright photo: Meldie Diente and PFN
That experience taught me that peace of mind is more cost-efficient so I started paying for travel insurance. For the next uneventful three years, I just contributed to the coffers of the insurance companies and found myself backsliding into thinking that maybe I shouldn’t bother anymore until an event made me a full-fledged convert for life. A typhoon was about to hit Hong Kong and nothing like its speed and strength had been seen in the last 50 years and I was smack right in the middle of it.

While doing some last-minute shopping before flying home the following day, I received a text message from Cathay Pacific informing me that my flight was cancelled due to Typhoon Hato and that I could rebook it free of charge.

Copyright Photo: The Paranoid Traveler and PFN
Although my picture shows Signal 3, it went up to Signal 10. For a Filipino like me who is used to Signal 3 to mean “life as we know it stops for now,” you could just imagine my mind going bonkers, “Signal 10?!” It turns out that Hong Kong has a different system.
I immediately looked for another hotel to stay at for that unexpected night because my current one was already fully booked. At first, I was worried whether I could find one and if I did, how much it would cost. At that point, I remembered that I was insured, which helped me to breathe easier. At least, I knew I would be reimbursed. Luckily, I was able to find a nearby hotel easily and even at a regular rate.

I then went to the supermarket to stock up on food but the entire city of Hong Kong had already beaten me to it. There was nothing, as in nothing, literally left. (See photo above)

The following day came with the promised strong winds where anything that could not hold on to gravity was blown away. I braved the weather to look for breakfast as nothing was offered at the hotel. I spent all my energy fighting against the 185 km/h wind, while trying not to get hit by any flying objects. Only 7-11 and McDonald’s were open so I stocked up on extra food.

Eventually, it came time to check out of my original hotel and into the new one which was just 2.5 kilometers away. Because of the danger posed by the storm, walking was not an option. There were no taxis, buses, and trams. I crossed my fingers and tried Uber. I was so relieved when I was able to make a booking that I thanked the driver profusely for accepting my trip.

Safely tucked in at my new hotel, I spent the day online (the connection was still fast and reliable), keeping myself updated with news, while informing my bank about the travel insurance I had available for my situation. They advised me to keep all receipts that I incurred and would be incurring for transportation, food, and clothes.

“Clothes?” I echoed.

“In case you run out of clothes or you need an outfit apt for the weather.”

“Prada, here I come!”

The bank chuckled and reminded me that not only do I have to justify my expenses but there was also a cap. I had never filed an insurance claim of any kind so this was all new to me.

Following my telephone call with the bank, a friend who works for the bank affiliated with my credit card company reminded me how because I used their credit card to pay for my airfare, I was automatically insured and that I could file a claim. Holy guacamole, I can be compensated twice! So I emailed both insurance companies and was given the following instructions and qualifications:

1.      That I, the claimant should be a holder of a valid unexpired qualified credit card and in good credit standing;
2.      The credit card was used to purchase a round trip ticket (origin: Philippines) and the full purchase amount was charged to it.
3.      To verify my eligibility, I must submit the following:
a.          copy of my airline ticket
b.          the actual boarding pass
c.          proof of purchase using the credit card
d.          the first six (6) digits and last four (4) digits of my credit card number
e.          the type of card (e.g. Gold, Platinum, Titanium) and if it’s Mastercard or Visa

In addition, I was asked for a certificate from the airline to verify the cancellation of my flight. This took a few days to secure so in the meantime, I sent the companies links to news articles although I don’t think they helped much.

After meeting all the requirements, I was told to complete a travel claim form and attach all necessary receipts.

All in all, it took at least a month for both companies to reimburse me after some back and forth emails. I wasn’t compensated for all my expenses like my Uber ride. They reasoned I could have taken a cheaper mode of transport. I would if I could, like a rickshaw. I don’t think these people watch the news.

I wasn’t also reimbursed for my 7-11 purchases of chips and drinks for reasons not explained to me, just my McDonald’s but no complaints here. At least, I was compensated twice. But of course now that I know my credit card offers free travel insurance, I stopped paying for it and have been on a crusade telling my traveling friends to check if their card offers it for free. In other words, you may not need to buy travel insurance because you may already have it for free! Check yours now!

- The Paranoid Traveler -


3 comments:

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