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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.
What's in this guide?
- Compare travel insurance plans
- Is Asia safe for travelers?
- What exactly does travel insurance cover?
- Can I get coverage for motorcycles and mopeds?
- I’ve been to Asia without insurance before — why should I get it this time?
- How to find a cheap travel insurance policy for Asia
- How to compare travel insurance policies
- Tips for traveling in Asia
- Who do I contact in an emergency?
- Get travel insurance for your vacation to Asia in minutes
- Frequently asked questions
Do I need travel insurance for Asia?
Consider these events that travel insurance can protect you from while traveling:
- Emergency medical expenses — Helps you pay for emergency medical care or evacuation in Asia.
- Cancellation fees and lost deposits — If you experience travel changes on Asian airlines or need to cancel the trip, this pays back nonrefundable expenses.
- Lost and stolen personal items — Recovers costs if your airline loses your luggage or if your bags get stolen during your trip.
- Personal liability — Protects you if someone takes legal action for an event that happened while you were traveling.
- Travel Accident Coverage : up to $50,000
- Pre-Existing Medical Condition : Available
- Concierge : Included
Our top pick: Allianz International Travel Insurance
Customizable coverage that can give you peace of mind when traveling to popular or remote destinations.
Compare travel insurance plans
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. They may stay cautious around bars or restaurants serving alcohol. Pregnant women should look up diseases and other concerns about the specific destination country.
- Risk of disease. Travel to some parts of Asia can leave you vulnerable to disease, so check with your doctor about which vaccinations to take. 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 impose health risks on travelers, particularly children, the elderly and those with preexisting cardiac or respiratory conditions.
- Food poisoning and unsafe water. Part of Asia, especially Southeast Asia, have lower food and water standards than you might be used to. Indulging in local street food, drinking local tap water or even having ice in your drink can lead to illness if you’re not careful.
- Car accidents. Accidents are common in some Asian countries, especially if driving at night. You may face drunk drivers on the road regularly, and road conditions may be poor in rural areas or on unpaved roads after rain.
- 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.
- Theft and scams. Money scams may happen in some areas of Asian countries, so stay aware when showing your money in public. Also, avoid buying medication without researching any problems with counterfeit medicine in the area.
So should I avoid traveling to Asia?
No. Despite safety concerns, this is 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.
- Avoid traveling at night, especially alone.
- Arrange transportation and lodging before you arrive.
What exactly does travel insurance cover?
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 you’re likely to need evacuation if you need urgent medical care. 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.
- Have a motorcycle license. Asian countries require you to have a license of some kind to ride a motorcycle, usually equivalent to a US motorcycle license. Check the laws of the country you’re visiting to see if your current license is enough. Some countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam require you to have a valid local motorcycle license as well, which costs around $40 and a passed riding exam.
- Wear appropriate safety gear. This could include a helmet and protective clothing.
- Avoid riding under the influence. If you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol your travel insurance will not cover you in the event of an accident. You may also need to pay more for motorcycle coverage, so check your policy carefully before you leave.
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 the 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.
How to compare travel insurance policies
Instead of looking at just price, it pays to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the limits of coverage? Is the coverage provided in each of the areas mentioned above enough to pay all the potential costs involved?
- How much is the deductible? Paying a larger deductible or copay to reduce the premium is hardly worth it if the cost of the item being claimed for is less than what you must pay.
- Will the policy cover all my activities? If you plan to go trekking in Vietnam for instance, make sure your travel insurance policy can cover the activity.
- Does it cover all Asian countries? If it doesn’t, you could find yourself uninsured in some countries, even if you are only stopping over for a day or two.
- Does it cover frequently stolen items such as cameras and laptops? If so, is the coverage provided sufficient to replace them?
These are only a few of the things you should look for when comparing cheap travel insurance policies. It’s a good idea to seek professional advice from a travel agent or insurance broker if you are at all unsure about what is and is not covered.
Is there a limit on the value of items covered?
Insurers will impose a maximum limit on the amount of coverage they will provide for stolen items and also will impose limits on the amount they will pay for specific items, like laptops and cameras:
- A total limit of $5,000 for stolen items
- A limit of $3,000 for stolen cameras.
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.
Frequently asked questions
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