26 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: mandatory features in travel policies

When buying travel insurance for any destination, I would always recommend these must-have features

Ahmed M Soliman
23 Feb 2016 | 10:49 am

I’m planning to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, and want to take out a travel insurance. What are the main areas of coverage I should insist upon?

When buying travel insurance for any destination, I would always recommend these must-have features:

1. Medical coverage of up to $1 million (Dh3.67 million) in Europe and $2 million in the US. Africa would fall in the UK category because of the low cost of health care.

2. A repatriation service covering the policy holder for emergency repatriation for medical reasons.

3. If you have to shorten your trip, a cover for any travel and accommodation costs you’ve paid for and can’t use or reclaim.

4. The missed departure cover takes care of the costs of additional accommodation and travel expenses if you miss your flight, boat or train due to situations out of your control, such as your car breaking down, being involved in an accident or public transport being delayed. However, you would have to provide proof as just being late is not ground enough for a claim.

5. If your travel is delayed due to industrial action, adverse weather or mechanical breakdown, the insurer will pay you a certain amount. Delays known about before you start your journey (such as strikes) are not covered.

6. If you have to cancel your journey, get a cover to reimburse your travel and accommodation expenses. It will only cover travel abandonment in certain circumstances, so be sure to check the terms and conditions.

7. Baggage service covers your luggage if it is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. You’ll need to report all losses within certain time periods and get a written report from your airline if it lost your baggage.

8. The personal liability cover takes care of you if you are liable to pay damages due to accidental bodily injury to someone or for loss or damage to someone’s property. Claims made by your family or staff won’t be covered.

Other features offered by some insurers are money or equivalent – like travellers’ cheques or pre-paid tickets – if 
your cash is lost or stolen, and coverage for loss of passport.

Make sure you read the small print. Insurance companies are running businesses and you could be caught out by different excesses depending on the type of claim.

Remember, along with airline reports for baggage claims, some insurance companies will insist on proof in the form of receipts for all baggage items, or everything above a certain value, which is highly unrealistic, when it’s likely that an active traveller’s luggage life span is between three and five years.

Got a problem?

Email your queries to

Ahmed M Soliman

Ahmed M Soliman

is a leading travel expert in the region.