Imagine that the dream summer holidays you have been waiting for is finally here. Right before you stuff that last piece of bikini into your luggage, you get a rude surprise that the travel agency you signed up with is pulling its shutters down for good. Even in today’s connectivity advancement, some business owners just cannot find the time to inform their customers that their business has gone bust.
Such is the fate of those who had been affected in the recent saga of Asia Euro agency’s abrupt closure. While we cannot forecast the financial health of a company, we can greatly minimise any possible anxiety by getting the right travel insurance.
Even if you are a well-connected individual who has mastered the art of the “wheres” and “hows” in travel disputes, you are still vulnerable when it comes to protection. The red tapes and administrative work of claiming against the agencies may just drown you out. Getting the right insurance plans will provide you with that morale lift and grant you that peace of mind if you are ever stranded in a desolate position.
Here are some pointers:
Is your tour agency registered?
It is worthwhile to ascertain whether the tour agency, which you have booked with, is accredited or registered with recognised regulatory bodies (like IATA or NATAS). Most of the travel insurance plans only offer coverage for claims against registered agencies.
Read the small print. Are there exclusions or special “terms and conditions”?
Most travel insurance would have a “Trip cancellation and curtailment” clause, which states that in circumstances where travellers have to change or abandon their original travel plans, they may be subjected to reimbursements on the non-refundable and/or irrecoverable portions of pre-paid travel expenses. However, how the insurers define the validity of such situations is based on their own set of criteria. As such, in cases where tour agencies go out of business overnight, insured parties may be requested to justify their claims to the insurer’s list on their own accord. You may be doing yourself a good deed by going the extra mile and dig deeper for any clauses that offer coverage for “carrier or travel agency insolvency”.
Who offers it?
AIG is one such company that offers an extensive range of travel insurance to cover any possible travel mishaps. The company’s Travel Guard plan offers “Travel Cancellation Due to Insolvency Benefit”, an added feature that protects the insured against insolvency of NATAS registered Travel Agent from which their trip was purchased.
Aviva’s Travel Plus and Travel Lite plans are other examples that offer protection to the insured against losses due to agency insolvency. These plans offer amounts of up to SGD$5,000 and SGD$1,000 respectively in cases where trip costs and/or deposits became unrecoverable following the insolvency of an IATA carrier or NATAS approved travel agent.
Tigerair partnered with ACE Insurance Limited also came up with its own Tigerinsure. Unlike other one-off travel insurances, Tigerinsure is a 12-month policy targeted at frequent travellers. For as low as SGD$250, Tigerinsure covers unlimited journeys for travellers of up to 90 days each, with a stated clause that promises to insure any deposit loss due to Travel Agent insolvency.