Doubts over coverage of travel insurance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2008, 12:00am

It is unclear whether holidaymakers with travel insurance have been protected in the recent chaos in Thailand, travel industry insiders say.

Daniel Chan Kin-pang, deputy general manager at Hong Thai Travel Services, which offers insurance company AIG's package, said travellers who were stranded in Thailand because of the closed airports should be able to make claims for delays and extra air fares required to return home, depending on the policies and coverage.

'This is because the chaos is a citizen-induced one, so travellers are protected,' Mr Chan said. 'But if the military is involved, usually insurance companies will not take any responsibility.'

Mr Chan said travellers who bought insurance through his travel service could automatically have the insured period extended for 10 days from the day their insurance expired, providing they were prevented from returning home on time. If they failed to return within the extended period, Mr Chan said, they could pay to extend the coverage from the original end-date.

However, the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers' chief executive Peter Tam Chung-ho said travellers should refer to their plans for more details because they varied.

'If there's a delay in a trip, we have to identify the reason and duration for the delay,' he said. 'If it is caused by political unrest, normally the claims will not be covered.'

But he said that the case of a traveller getting injured in a traffic accident while rushing to catch a flight back to Hong Kong should be covered. This was because the injury was caused by a traffic accident en route to an airport because another was closed, he said.

Mr Tam advised travellers to take the Hong Kong government travel warnings seriously, and to check the terms and policies of different travel insurance plans when buying one.