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UAE residents fail to take up travel insurance.

Dubai: Most residents in the UAE don't buy travel insurance when they go abroad.

There are around ten insurance companies in the UAE that offer travel insurance plans, yet the uptake is very low.

According to research by Zurich Insurance, more than half of UAE residents have never bought travel insurance. Of the UAE residents surveyed, 58 per cent indicated that they had never bought travel insurance, while 32 per cent said they did so on occasion.

"The reason for low uptake in our experience is primarily due to the fact that a large amount of trips abroad for the UAE residents tends to be travel back to home country and they assume that they may not require emergency medical coverage when they are home," said Nilanjana Ghosh, head of marketing and communications for the UAE and Bahrain at RSA Insurance.

A high percentage of residents in the UAE are expatriates -- they travel home during the holidays.

Another factor for the low uptake of travel insurance plans is a lack of awareness of the benefits it offers to travellers, Ghosh said.

Travel insurance covers flight delays, baggage loss and medical expenses, among other things.

The cost of travel insurance differs depending on the type of cover one needs, such as a single or multi-trip cover.

Coverage

A Schengen travel insurance, for entry to Schengen countries, is priced at around Dh150 on average for a seven-day stay, and covers everything from costs that can be incurred at the airport to medical expenses worth at least $30,000, according to Preeti Bhambri, managing director and founder of Moneycamel.com

While some insurance companies offer the same kind of plan for around Dh50, it does not include benefits beyond coverage of medical expenses and repatriation of remains, such as flight delays, passport loss, baggage loss and legal expenses, she said.

"They strip off half of the benefits and give it for Dh50," she said.

Another option for travellers that don't want to buy an insurance plan from a provider is to have a credit card which offers it for free, she said.

Citibank is one bank that offers it, and it provides coverage for the whole family, she added.

Without a travel insurance plan, travellers can face "situational losses," Ghosh said.

For instance, being in an accident, and later staying at a hospital, without being covered can cost one thousands of dirhams. This cost would not be incurred if one is covered with a travel insurance plan.

"A lot of health insurance companies here don't cover medical expenses abroad, so that's when a travel insurance comes in handy," Bhambri said.

Investment

Also, a travel insurance plan covers repatriation of remains and a trip for one person to see a relative that is hurt in a foreign country.

"Customers spend a lot of time and money planning their holidays in this country. Getting travel insurance protects that investment," she said.

Buying travel insurance in the UAE is in its early stages, but Ghosh expects that to change.

"The current purchase is largely driven by visa requirements rather than the risk perception. However, we are seeing some early signs of this changing," she said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jul 19, 2013
Words:545
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