So you’ve bought travel insurance. Now it’s time to go skydiving and swimming with the sharks. Right? Not so fast. Travel insurance isn’t a “get out of jail free” card that magically frees you from having to pay any expense you incur due to stupid mishaps.
In fact, if you actually take the time to read your travel insurance policy, you’ll realise that there’s actually a truckload of things you can do to get your claims thrown straight into the bin. Here are five big ones to look out for.
1. Playing in a competition or tournament
Participating in a seemingly harmless game of football may not exactly be as exciting as jumping off cliffs into the ocean, but suffer an injury during the game and you could well get your insurance claim for medical expenses rejected.
Read your insurance policy carefully to see if cover is excluded if you participate in a competition or tournament. Beware, as any sporting event that gives you the opportunity to win a prize might be considered a competition.
That means if someone punches your lights out during the drunken muay thai boxing event organised by that Thai pub, you won’t get covered.
2. Risky activities
Many Singaporean tourists flee the country to escape from boredom during the holidays, since there’s so much more fun stuff you can do overseas, like skydiving and bungy jumping!
But before you sign yourself up for that motorcycle drag race, know that many travel insurance policies will not cover you for injuries or losses suffered in the course of risky activities, which often include flying planes, racing any kind of vehicle, skydiving, and even rock climbing on actual rocks, as opposed to artificial rock walls.
3. Consuming alcohol or drugs
Virtually everyone has gotten smashed overseas. Every day of the year, Singaporeans are spotted disembarking at the Phuket and Bangkok airports and heading straight to the duty free shop to buy a bottle of Martell. But guess what, if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you probably aren’t going to be able to make a claim for anything that happens to you during that time.
That means getting run over by a tuk tuk after a night out at the Thai discos is going to be even worse than you imagined. Bear in mind that your travel insurance covers more than just medical expenses. If you injure someone else and become liable at law or lose your passport while drunk or high, you will lose your chance to make some big claims.
4. Pre-existing medical conditions
The thing people are most concerned about when they buy travel insurance is making sure their medical expenses will be covered when they’re overseas. It’s worth noting that most basic travel insurance policies will not cover pre-existing medical conditions. As sinister as “pre-existing medical conditions” sounds, it isn’t restricted to deadly terminal diseases.
If you broke your leg two years ago and then break it again while you’re overseas, you might not be able to make a claim for medical expenses incurred. If you were recently injured or have a medical condition like diabetes or anaemia, you might want to consider upgrading your insurance so it includes pre-existing medical conditions, just in case something happens and you run into problems when trying to make a claim.
5. Not making a police report soon enough
Before you heave a sigh of relief that your insurance policy offers coverage if you lose your passport or laptop, beware. To make sure people don’t try to make claims for forgetting their stuff on the train or trying to pawn their belongings, most insurance policies require that you make a police report or contact the authorities within 24 hours of the loss.
This can be a pain in the neck if you’re in a remote area or you lose your stuff over a public holiday or weekend when the embassy is closed. Still, knowing you have a lot more to lose in insurance money, make sure you lodge a report by hook or by crook.
Have you ever had trouble making a travel insurance claim? Tell us about it in the comments!