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Travel insurance guide: Asia
Find travel insurance for your journey through the exotic east.
Asia offers an exotic mix of cultures, religions, history and cuisine and every year thousands of travelers head overseas to experience the Asian way of life. But while Asia can be fascinating, it can also be unpredictable and you should take some precautions before heading overseas.
Do I need travel insurance for Asia?
Travel insurance can protect you from:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Cancellation fees and lost deposits
- Lost and stolen personal items
- Personal liability
- Trip cancellation: N/A
- Trip interruption: Up to $10,000
- Trip delay: $100
- Medical expense benefits: Varies by medical service
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What’s in this guide?
Is Asia safe for travelers?
Generally, yes. But Asia is made up of many countries, each with different safety concerns.
- Safety concerns for women. Female travelers to India are often subject to unwanted attention and in some cases serious harassment and assault.
- Risk of disease. Travel to some parts of Asia can leave you vulnerable to disease. For instance, if you’re going to Japan, then it is vital to get a vaccination for Japanese rabies.
- Pollution. Regions of Asia, most notably China, are known for severe pollution. Pollution can be impose health risks on travelers, particularly children, the elderly and those with preexisting cardiac or respiratory conditions.
- Food poisoning. Part of Asia, especially Southeast Asia, have poorer food standards than you might be used to. Indulging in local street food, or even having ice in your drink, can lead to food poisoning if you’re not careful.
- Political unrest and civil conflict. Avoid traveling to particular regions of Asian countries that are currently undergoing civil conflicts. For instance, Southern Thailand, close to the border of Malaysia, has been reported to have daily violence in recent years, including shootings and bombings.
- Strict drug laws. Most Asian countries have strict drug laws, yet drugs are abundant in the black market. The availability of illegal drugs creates a dangerous trap that many travelers fall into.
So should I avoid traveling to Asia?
No. Despite safety concerns, this in an amazing part of the world to travel in. To stay safe:
- Select the right travel insurance.
- Follow government safety advice for the Asian countries you’re visiting.
- Contact the nearest embassy in an emergency.
What exactly does travel insurance cover me for?
When looking for travel insurance for Asia, find a policy that provides coverage for:
- Medical and health issues. In many parts of Asia, you may only have access to basic health care, so getting treatment if you suffer an illness or injury can be expensive. The medical coverage provided by your insurer should include things such as emergency, inpatient and outpatient care, as well as prescriptions and surgery.
- Property theft or loss. Petty crime such as theft can be widespread in some Asian countries, so you need to insure your belongings in case they are lost or stolen.
- Trip interruption or cancellation. Delays and cancellations can and do happen, particularly in Asian countries such as mainland China, so you need coverage that will compensate you if your travel arrangements are interrupted or delayed and you suffer financially as a result.
- Emergency medical evacuation. If you are badly injured or severely ill and need to be evacuated, it can cost tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, so medical evacuation insurance is a vital part of any travel insurance policy for Asia.
Am I covered for food poisoning?
Asia is famous for its delicious and varied cuisine. However, some Asian countries have much lower standards of food hygiene than you may be used to, so it’s not uncommon for visitors to Asia to come down with a bout of food poisoning.
Am I covered for medical expenses?
If you’re unlucky enough to suffer a nasty case of food poisoning, travel insurance can cover the overseas medical and hospital expenses you incur.
Some policies cover changes to your trip and more
If your doctor advises you to stay in the hospital for a few days to recover, you can get coverage for:
- Additional accommodation costs
- Cancellation fees
- Reimbursement for prepaid trip expenses (travel, accommodation, tours etc.) you’re unable to use.
- A daily allowance while you are hospitalized to help you cover incidental expenses such as phone calls, newspapers and TV rental.
Case study: The unexpected cost of bad food
Craig thought the family-run restaurant in a Hong Kong alley looked clean enough, and the seafood noodle dish he devoured for lunch certainly tasted delicious. But when Craig woke up after a nap in his hotel room a couple of hours later and needed to rush to the toilet, he knew he’d made a big mistake.
With severe vomiting and diarrhea plus a fever and other flu-like symptoms, Craig was diagnosed with a bad case of food poisoning and ended up spending two nights in a hospital. After being discharged, Craig’s doctor also recommended that he stay in Hong Kong for a few extra days to recover, meaning Craig had additional accommodation expenses to cover and he missed his flight to Tokyo — not to mention two nights of pre-booked accommodations.
Luckily, Craig had taken out comprehensive travel insurance before departing on his trip.
|Hospital accommodation:||$1,440 (2 nights @ $720 a night)|
|Extra accommodation in Hong Kong:||$450 (3 nights @ $150 a night)|
|Unused airline ticket:||$220|
|Unused accommodation in Tokyo:||$400 (2 nights @ $200 a night)|
Total cost covered
Cost of travel insurance
Purchasing a $110 travel insurance policy ensured that food poisoning didn’t leave Craig to pay more than $3,000 out of pocket.
Can I get coverage for motorcycles and mopeds?
To get travel insurance to cover riding a motorcycle or moped, you’ll need to follow the road laws of the country you’re visiting.
I’ve been to Asia without insurance before — why should I get it this time?
There’s a misconception among some travelers that insurance isn’t essential for a trip to Asia. Common misconceptions that lead to this conclusion include:
1. Asia is safer than most of the world
From petty crime to violent crime, natural disasters and even terrorism, there are plenty of travel risks you may encounter in Asia.
2. Medical care will be cheap
Don’t be fooled into thinking hospitals in Asia are cheap. A finder.com study of the 20 most popular destinations for travelers revealed Singapore as the most expensive place in the world to spend a night in hospital. You’ll usually need to provide proof of travel insurance with medical coverage or some guarantee of payment before you will be admitted to the hospital.
When you take the risks and potential costs into consideration, travel insurance for Asia really is essential.
Without travel insurance, you run the risk of relying on poor facilities
The quality of medical facilities varies greatly between major cities and rural areas in Asia. If you suffer an injury or illness in some parts of Asia, for example in rural Thailand, the best option may be to medically evacuate you to the nearest appropriate medical facility — or even repatriate you to the US. This can be a very expensive operation.
Travel insurance can cover both:
- Overseas medical and hospital expenses in Asia.
- Cost of medical evacuation and repatriation if required (for example, if there’s no adequate treatment or facilities in your vicinity).
How to find a cheap travel insurance policy for Asia
Here are some easy ways to get cheap travel insurance for Asia.
- Policy coupons and deals. View a few of the travel insurance deals on finder.com.
- Medical-only travel insurance. If you’re only concerned about medical expenses, consider a medical-only travel insurance policy.
- Group policies for multiple people. Some policies offer discounts to large travel groups.
- Free insurance for kids. Some policies offer free coverage for dependents under the age of 21.
Getting the most out of your policy
Things you can do to ensure you get the most from your insurance include:
- Keeping good records. Records can include listing your personal belongings and valuables, keeping receipts (they may be required when making a claim) and making a copy of your policy and leaving it in a safe place at home.
- Having all the relevant emergency numbers. Keep these in case you need to make a claim while overseas.
- Making sure you get a police report for any crime. This report will be required by your insurer if you are victim of crime.
- Checking the latest advisory reports. The US Department of State puts out advisories when it is dangerous to travel to a specific region. Ignoring these can void your insurance, so make sure you follow travel advisory reports for the destinations you’re visiting.
Tips for traveling in Asia
The only thing better than having travel insurance is not having to use it. With that in mind, here are some handy tips when traveling in Asia.
- If you are hiring a car or motorcycle, make sure you have a license to drive it in the country you are visiting.
- When driving in Asia, do what the locals do, know where you’re going and know what the road rules are.
- When shopping, leave your jewelry in the hotel safe, as you may attract pickpockets and thieves. (Not to mention, you’ll have a hard time bargaining at local markets when you’re displaying obvious wealth.)
- Avoid too much sun as the symptoms are similar to “Bali belly” (fever, nausea and diarrhea).
- Drink bottled water and don’t eat local food from market stalls unless you are confident about its origins and the way it has been prepared.
- Carry your money in a money belt and your handbag close to your body to prevent bag snatchers, and don’t make a show of money or valuables.
- Avoid taxis that have no markings or ones that don’t switch on their meters when you get in.
- If you’re in a bar or club, make sure your drink never leaves your sight to avoid drink spiking.
Who do I contact in an emergency?
If you find yourself in an emergency in the Asia, some useful contacts include:
- Your travel insurer. Your insurance provider will have an 24/7 helpline for claims and medical emergencies.
- Embassies and consulates. In an emergency, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate.
Get travel insurance for your vacation to Asia in minutes
Traveling to Asia is a life-changing experience for many people. The fascinating cultures, friendly people and incredible scenery draw thousands of travelers to places like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam and China every year.
The travel insurance you take out before you leave performs a vital role in helping to ensure you return with wonderful memories rather than horror stories and debts you could’ve avoided with travel insurance.
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