It is a truism that many people have come to a realisation that air travel remains the fastest means of travelling to any destination in the world.
Travelling by aeroplane for the first time is such a life-threatening experience for many people, as it is often filled with fear and anxiety.

The taking-off of an aeroplane itself stirs up some inexplicable ‘chemicals’ in one’s inner being! The journey through the clouds with its accompanying occasional turbulence and the eventual announcement of ‘…please fasten your seat belts…’ as the plane prepares to touch down, is one that could ignite the ‘fear of the unknown.’ While the cruising itself is typically covered by aviation insurance, the other associated risks like illness, loss of life and/or luggage among several others are covered by travel insurance.

Travel insurance – Compulsory or necessary?

A couple of years ago, a friend requested my assistance to obtain a travel insurance policy in order to meet the entry visa requirement of the embassy of the European country he was scheduled to travel to.

Indeed, he didn’t find that requirement necessary, as he thought it was only going to add to his travelling cost. Anyhow, there was no way his application was going to be accepted and processed without meeting this requirement.

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Having noticed my friend’s ill-informed view of this requirement, I painstakingly explained to him the concept, features, benefits, exclusions and claims processes of a travel insurance policy.

Travelling by air has become a very sophisticated adventure, especially with its accompanying risks; hence the need for individuals to protect their lives and other valuables against the uncertainties associated with it.

Travel Insurance is important, and in some cases mandatory for one’s travel arrangements, encompassing all types of eventualities.

In Ghana, it is becoming one of the key requirements for the acquisition of entry visas, especially to the 26 Schengen countries such as Nomansland, The Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Spain, etc.

This demand has suddenly triggered the custom-design and sales of travel insurance policies by the various insurance companies in Ghana.

Travel insurance explained

Persons travelling outside the borders of their home countries (e.g. Ghana) either for business, holidays, visits, sports tournaments are often vulnerable to many risks before, during and after the journey. A travel insurance policy, therefore, provides cover against the risks of travelling which may include medical fees, loss of personal belongings, flight cancellation charges, third party liabilities, death, injury, etc.

Duration of cover

The duration of this policy does not usually exceed 90 days, though yearly policies could be granted to regular travellers and students. It is usually provided by a local insurer in partnership with an internationally accredited one.

Scope of the standard cover

• Medical expenses where surgical fees, hospital charges and emergency dental treatments are covered.

Additionally, the cost of air-ambulance for the sick traveller, his/her close relations, friends and accompanying nurse(s) are all provided for in the cover.

The policy may also cover the repatriation of policyholder’s corpse or ashes in the event of death.

• Loss of luggage where there is reimbursement for loss of luggage, personal effects, missing passports, etc.

The compensation here is, however, based on agreed limits.

• Travel delays usually occasioned by bad weather, or strike actions 12 hours into the original departure time.

• Personal liability arising from the insured’s legal liability for injury or accident to third parties in the course of travelling.

• Hospital Cash benefits arising from the insured being hospitalised. Daily cash payments may be applicable, but subject to agreed terms.

A relevant scenario

Let us assume that Mr Kay, a Ghanaian businessman, is suddenly taken ill after having an asthmatic attack while on a journey to Nomansland.

He was hospitalised to the hospital for two (2) days.

Mr Kay did not even realise that the travel insurance policy which he was compelled by the embassy to buy also covered hospitalisation.

When prompted, his local insurer in Ghana was called and they arranged with an internationally accredited partner to adequately cater for his health needs in the foreign country.

Indeed, he was treated and discharged and he was very happy to learn that his travel insurance policy covered his medical expenses as well and was particularly delighted at the prompt response of the local insurer and its partner in Nomansland.

It is worthy to note that in the unfortunate event of Mr Kay losing his life while still in Nomansland, his local insurer in concert with the foreign partner will consequently be responsible for repatriating his corpse or ashes to Ghana.

Optional benefits

Policyholders have the option to request additional fee-based benefits, which may not be contained in the standard policy. Below are some context-specific optional benefits available to policyholders:

• Financial failure of tour organiser or guide for especially booked holidays to whom advance payments have been made.

• Lack of amenities – poor service provision in relation to utilities such as water, electricity, broken-down elevators, swimming pool facilities, at a hotel where the traveller is staying.

• Cover could also be extended to legal costs in pursuing claims for compensation and damages arising out of death or injury to the traveller.

Author: Mawuli Zogbenu

Article originally appeared in Graphic Business