Singaporeans love to travel to Malaysia for many reasons – for work, the cheap petrol, the amazing food, soak in the culture, or just take advantage of the really good exchange rate. It’s so convenient that you can head north to Johor, shop around, and come back to Singapore in the same day. So naturally, you wouldn’t think about buying travel insurance just for a few hours spent overseas.
But earlier this month, camera footage of a woman being robbed in Malaysia while she was cleaning her front porch with the gate ajar went viral on Facebook. This happened at 9am in the morning! It’s yet another reminder that a robbery can happen anytime, anywhere.
Whether it’s car theft, snatch theft, armed robbery or any number of crimes, here’s what to do if you get robbed in Malaysia.
1. Cancel All The Stolen Credit Cards
I know you’ve just gone through a really traumatic event, and that you’re probably shaking from the shock, but it is very important that you cancel a stolen credit card as soon as you discover it’s been taken. This is for two reasons.
- You want to prevent the card from being used. If you wait too long to call your bank to report your card stolen, you might be held responsible for any transactions done on the card before your report. Yes, even if they were fraudulent transactions made by the robbers.
- Even when a card is cancelled, any transaction done on the card can still be traced. Credit card companies can find out where a card is being used even after it’s been blocked. By reporting your credit cards stolen early, you may indirectly help track down the location of the robbers.
So be sure to make a note of the contact number of your bank whenever you travel abroad. The toll-free number (aka the 1800 number) will not be valid when you’re overseas. This doesn’t just apply to credit cards, of course. Debit cards and ATM cards should be reported within the same call.
2. Inform the police and get an official report
Yes, believe it or not, informing the police is not the first thing you have to do. But, it is definitely a crucial next step after getting your credit cards blocked. Almost all insurance companies require a written police report in order to process your claims. Some even require you to have made the police report no more than 24 hours from the time of the robbery.
Depending on which part of Malaysia you’re in, it might be a good idea to brush up on your Bahasa Melayu, just in case the police officer who assists you isn’t conversant in English.
Either way, try your best to recount the robbery, providing as much detail as you can. Before you leave, make sure you have a copy of the report or, at the very least, an acknowledgement slip or receipt to indicate the time and location that the report was made.
3. If your passport has been stolen, contact the Singapore High Commission in KL.
The Singapore High Commission is open from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm. You will need to apply for a temporary travel document to replace your stolen passport. Bring two passport-sized photos of yourself, and some proof of your Singapore Citizenship and identity. The best would be something with your photograph on it like your IC or driver’s license. Of course, if they were all taken during the robbery, then just bring whatever you can.
Before you travel, it may even be a good idea to make photocopies of your IC and passport for emergencies such as these.
You will need to report to Malaysian Immigration with your temporary travel document before travelling back to Singapore.
4. Claiming Travel Insurance
If you thought the whole traumatic experience would end when you return to Singapore, then you’ve never dealt with insurance claims before. This is, of course, assuming you DID buy travel insurance in the first place.
Firstly, you’ll need to get all the necessary documentation sorted. Not only do you have to provide the police report, but in the case of credit card fraud, you will also need written confirmation from the bank that indicates the date you advised them of the theft. Normally, this is automatically generated and mailed to you, but if you need it urgently, they should be able to provide a softcopy or fax upon request.
It gets worse if you’re hoping to claim for loss of personal effects. If your handbag was stolen, for example, insurance companies would require you to provide proof of ownership. Primarily, the best is to provide the original receipt. Of course, if you’re like most people, that’s not going to happen. Some insurance companies may allow alternative proof such as bank statements, photographs or even the packaging.
So, the next time you head into JB or Malacca, even if it’s just for a day, it doesn’t hurt to get sufficient travel insurance. And if you use a travel insurance comparison tool, you’ll be able to compare policies easily.
Do you have any other reminders of what to do if you get robbed in Malaysia? Share them with us.