Travel insurance for Dubai

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Home to the world’s tallest building, largest man-made islands and biggest indoor malls and entertainment complexes, Dubai is a must-see destination on many travel lists. If you’re desert-bound and ready to have some fun, don’t forget to pick up a travel insurance policy before you leave.

What does travel insurance cover?

A comprehensive travel insurance policy provides protection against common travel concerns that include:

  • Emergency medical expenses. Health care is expensive in the UAE, and travel insurance can cover hospital fees and necessary medical repatriation.
  • Cancellations and lost deposits. This includes reimbursement if you’re forced to cancel non-refundable flights and accommodation.
  • Flight delays. If you need to stay in Dubai longer than expected because of a delayed flight, your insurer can cover the cost.
  • Theft and stolen items. If your wallet or luggage goes missing at the hands of thieves, your insurer can reimburse you.

What travel risks are specific to Dubai?

Dubai is generally a safe place to travel, but it’s a different culture than the UK that requires you to keep a few things in mind.

  • Illegal and criminal behavior. Kissing in public and other displays of affections are considered criminal acts in the UAE, as is dressing immodestly, having sex before marriage or merely staying in a hotel with somebody of the opposite sex. You can also get in trouble for smoking, drinking or swearing. Carefully read up on local laws before leaving home.
  • Sexual assault. Take care travelling alone if you’re a woman, especially at night. Many women report they were detained and even charged with extramarital relationships after reporting assault to the police. If you are a victim of assault, consider contacting your insurer’s 24/7 helpline or the nearest UK embassy before going to the authorities.
  • Drugs. UAE takes a zero-tolerance approach to drug use. Even the smallest amount can land you in serious trouble. In 2008, a British man was sentenced to four years after authorities at the Dubai airport found a piece of marijuana weighing less than a grain of sugar stuck to the bottom of his shoe.
  • Heat. Temperatures in the desert can reach 45°C from June to September. Bring cool clothing, drink plenty of water and see a doctor if you feel dizzy or nauseous.
  • Traffic. Notoriously bad road conditions and driving habits mean that road accidents are common. If you’re planning to rent a car, travel insurance with rental coverage is a good idea.

Sue and Mike's £20,000 Dubai claim

Vacationing in Dubai, Sue and Mike took a break from air-conditioned shopping malls to venture into the desert on a guided tour. Unfortunately, vehicle maintenance wasn’t a high priority for their tour operator. They were stranded in a sandstorm and nearly died from dehydration, requiring a weeklong recovery in a Dubai hospital. The bill came to £20,000, but Sue and Mike simply filed a claim with their insurer, knowing their comprehensive travel insurance covered overseas emergency medical and hospital stays.

Sue and Mike’s coverage:

  • Ambulance
  • Consultations
  • Hospital beds
  • Food
  • Medication

Out-of-pocket expenses

  • £100 excess

What extras should I add to my travel policy?

Dubai boasts desert golf courses and indoor rinks among its range of experiences designed for those who crave an adrenaline rush.

If you plan to get your heart pumping, make sure your insurer covers:

  • Skydiving. Dubai is known for its famous Palm Drop Zone, perfect for experiencing skydiving for the first time.
  • Bungee jumping. Jumping over the jaw-dropping city of Dubai in the Gravity Zone is a tourist favourite.
  • Sandboarding. Ride a 4×4 up Dubai’s dunes, then sandboard down in style.
  • Indoor snowboarding. The famous Ski Dubai resort boasts more than 242,000 square feet of indoor snow.

How do I file a claim after a medical emergency?

If you suffer from an injury or illness while in Dubai and need medical treatment, contact your insurer’s emergency medical assistance provider as soon as you can to guarantee payment to the hospital on your behalf.

For minor medical treatment of under £1,000 that can be taken care of by a doctor, most insurers require you to pay the bill up front and file for reimbursement when home.

Keep doctors’ reports, receipts, police reports and other supporting documentation to support your claim.

Who do I contact in an emergency?

Depending on your emergency, you can contact:

  • Police or an ambulance by calling 999.
  • The fire department by calling 997.
  • Your insurer’s 24/7 helpline.
  • A British embassy or consulate for help with lost passports, legal trouble or countrywide emergencies.

Common scams in Dubai

Although street crime is relatively rare in Dubai, may travellers report scams designed to part unsuspecting tourists from their money:

  • Woman with sick child. A woman asks for money to get to the hospital to see her sick son or daughter. She promises to pay it back, providing a phone number that turns out to be bogus.
  • Man with injury. A man with a fake gaping wound asks for money to pay his hospital bill.
  • Men with suits. Men offer knockoff Italian designer suits for sale, saying they don’t want to take them home to Italy.
  • Family in car. A family says their car has broken down or is out of gas, asking you for money to get home.
  • Door knockers. A woman with a crying baby knocks on your door and asks for money for food.

Four steps to selecting travel insurance for Dubai

When purchasing travel insurance, consider:

  1. The full range of risk. Health care is expensive in Dubai. Look for a policy that includes coverage for emergency overseas medical and hospital expenses.
  2. Your travel activities. You may want additional coverage for adventurous activities like skydiving and bungee jumping.
  3. The valuable items you’ll travel with. If you’re taking electronics or jewellery, choose a policy with a limit that’s high enough to replace them.
  4. Your medical conditions. Declare any medical conditions to your insurer. If you end up in a Dubai hospital because of an undeclared condition, your medical bills won’t be covered.

What to look out for

Some travel insurance policies come with exclusions that can void your coverage or make it difficult or expensive for you to file a claim. Carefully read the fine print before picking a policy, looking out for:

  • Exclusions. Look out for unreasonable demands that can deny your claim, like excluding even casual drinking.
  • High deductibles. If small claims aren’t covered, you may end up paying out of your own pocket.
  • Reimbursement limits. Make sure that replacement coverage meets your specific needs.

Bottom line

The safest way to enjoy the exotic sights of Dubai is with a travel insurance policy tailored to your needs. That way, you can relax knowing you – and your bank account – are safe from unexpected bumps along the way.

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