New policy to offer tourists better coverage

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2011, 12:00am


Partial loss of limbs may be compensated for in future under a travel insurance policy to be launched by a major insurer.

Hong Kong insurers currently only pay out when victims suffer complete loss of limbs or death. However, following criticism of insurers who declined to pay out in the aftermath of the Manila hostage shootings which claimed the lives of eight Hongkongers a year ago - the claims were eventually settled - one company is to launch a new policy under which the loss of a part of a limb may be compensated for as a percentage of the total policy.

Chartis is a company which provides insurance via more than 300 travel agents in Hong Kong. Under its new policy, victims who suffer permanent disability may be compensated up to 75 per cent more than current full coverage, while loss of sight or hearing would also be fully covered. Accidental death will still be 100 per cent covered. Chartis says the new policy, available at an additional premium, will come into effect in two months. Customers will still be able to choose the old policy with limited personal accident coverage.

'The new product will offer more extensive personal accident coverage than that currently provided under the standard existing travel insurance policies in the market,' said Peter Joblin, a spokesman for Chartis. Rival insurer Blue Cross, which serves 500 tour agencies in the city, said it had no plans to launch new products.

In the Manila shootings, survivor Joe Chan Kwok-chu was shot in both hands, while his wife, Yik Siu-ling, had her lower jaw injured. Both complained that travel agents failed to explain details of the insurance policies they had bought, and did not know their injuries were not covered.

The couple later secured a one-off HK$1 million donation from an insurance fund set up by Chartis.

Since 2006, the government has issued a special licence for travel agents to sell travel insurance to encourage more tourists to buy policies.

Paul Chan Kin-por, a lawmaker for the insurance functional constituency, said the policy had proven to be a success, with more than 80 per cent of tourists now buying travel insurance. 'It is convenient for customers to be able to buy insurance when they sign up for a tour,' Chan said.

Meanwhile, the family of Masa Tse Ting-chunn, the tour guide killed in the Manila shooting, has received HK$650,000 in a 'condolence payment' from seven charities in the Philippines.

But Tse Chi-kin, his older brother, said the family was annoyed after some media reported the Manila government describing the money as 'compensation'. 'We treat the money as a condolence payment,' he said. 'Nothing in the letter issued by the charities said it was compensation or a settlement. We were so angry after reading reports that quoted the presidential office in Manila describing the sum as compensation. It was a trap; we may return the whole sum of money to them,' he said.

Tse Chi-kin and six others including his mother and Democratic lawmaker James To Kun-sun flew to Manila last night before the first anniversary of the fatal shootings tomorrow.

China's ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao last night visited the group to express sympathy. He said the embassy would try its best to work with them.