Travel insurance for Asia

Find travel insurance for your journey through the exotic east.

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Asia offers an exotic mix of cultures, religions, history and cuisine. Every year thousands of travellers head overseas to experience the Asian way of life. 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

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 cover 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’re 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’re badly injured or severely ill and need to be evacuated, it can cost tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds, 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 cover 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’re hospitalised to help you cover incidental expenses such as phone calls, newspapers and TV rental

Can I get cover 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.

You will need a motorcycle licence

Asian countries require you to have a licence of some kind to ride a motorcycle, usually equivalent to a UK motorcycle licence. Check the laws of the country you’re visiting to see if your current licence is enough.

Can I just use my car licence?

No. Although it’s easy to rent a motorcycle from a street vendor without a licence, if you’re injured, your travel insurance will not cover you in the event of an accident.

Some countries require a local motorcycle licence

Some countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam might require you to have a valid local motorcycle licence as well. In these countries you will need to pay about £65 and pass a riding test before you can head out legally on two wheels.

You will also need to wear appropriate safety gear, including a helmet and protective clothing, and avoid riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or else your travel insurance will not cover you in the event of an accident. You may also need to pay more for motorcycle cover, so check your policy carefully before you leave.

Is Asia safe for travellers?

Generally, yes. But Asia is made up of many countries, each with different safety concerns.

  • Safety concerns for women. Female travellers 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 travellers, particularly children, the elderly and those with pre-existing cardiac or respiratory conditions.
  • Food poisoning. Parts 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 travelling 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 travellers 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

I’ve been to Asia without insurance before: why should I get it this time?

There’s a misconception among some travellers that insurance isn’t essential for a trip to Asia. Common misconceptions that lead to this conclusion include:

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.

Medical care will be cheap.”

Don’t be fooled into thinking hospitals in Asia are cheap. A study of the 20 most popular destinations for travellers 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 UK. 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)

Other considerations

The type and amount of cover you choose for travel in Asia will depend on your particular circumstances, so here are some additional questions you should ask yourself before you buy:

  • What are your insurance needs? For example, if you’re a student traveling to Asia for an extended period, your insurance needs will be vastly different from a family going to Bali for a week or two.
  • Which countries are you visiting? The quality, availability and cost of medical services in various countries will determine how much medical cover you will need (Japan is the most expensive).
  • Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions? You will need to tell your insurance provider about these and they may cost you more or not be covered, depending on the insurer.
  • Will you be engaging in any extreme sports or dangerous activities? If so, you will need to take out extra insurance for those activities and some may not be insurable.

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’re a victim of crime.
  • Checking the latest advisory reports. The UK Home Office 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.
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  • Specialists in medical travel insurance
  • Optional extras including Winter sports, cruise and gadget cover
  • Discounted premiums for families and couples
  • Choose from a single trip, annual multi-trip or backpacker policy
  • Kids go free on family policies

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’re hiring a car or motorcycle, make sure you have a licence to drive it in the country you’re 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 jewellery 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 diarrhoea).
  • Drink bottled water and don’t eat local food from market stalls unless you’re 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. 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 Asia, some useful contacts include:

  • Your travel insurer. Your insurance provider will have a 24/7 helpline for claims and medical emergencies.
  • Embassies and consulates. In an emergency, contact the nearest UK embassy or consulate.

Get travel insurance for your holiday 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 travellers 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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