5Apr

How Insurers Are Developing New Products Post-Pandemic

The current pandemic of Covid-19 has created a need for all people to have travel insurance. If you are planning on travelling in the near future, it is important to have protection in case you become ill or injured while travelling. Many travel insurance policies include coverage for medical expenses and trip cancellations.

WHICH ASIAN COMPANIES ARE OFFERING INSURANCE FOR COVID?

In Asia, many companies have developed new products to cater to new travel insurance needs after the pandemic. As travel restrictions and requirements with coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to evolve, many people are left wondering what the current travel insurance policies will cover.

For example, insurance company AIG has developed a travel insurance policy that includes coverage for medical expenses, trip cancellations, and lost luggage. The policy also includes a $1 million USD limit for medical expenses.

Another company, Tokio Marine, has developed a travel insurance policy that includes coverage for Covid-19 related expenses such as cancellations and rebooking.

Hong Kong Life Health Amulet travel insurance has announced that it will be offering a new travel insurance policy to cover travel disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new policy will provide coverage for travel delays, cancellations, and lost or stolen luggage.

According to Hong Kong Life, the policy is intended to help both insureds and their families during an epidemic. During the period beginning March 1, 2022, and ending March 31, 2022, with a valid application for any insurance plans (except certain products1) from Hong Kong Life at its Appointed Licensed Insurance Agency in Hong Kong, and the policy being

Hong Kong Life is not the only insurer to offer new travel insurance policies in light of the pandemic. Many other insurers have announced similar policies in recent weeks.

COST OF PREMIUMS

Premiums for travel insurance have understandably increased over the past year. Airlines, hotels, and other travel-related businesses have all suffered losses as a result of the pandemic, and people are increasingly aware of the importance of travel insurance in protecting them from financial ruin in case of an unexpected emergency.

To be sure you're totally protected, we recommend paying a higher premium for policies that allow you to cancel a trip for any reason.

In general, most travel insurance policies range from 5% to 10% of the total cost of a trip. Insurers may look at how long passengers have been travelling and the age of those on board. However, insurers are yet to inquire about immunization against COVID-19.

WHAT’S WORTH HAVING IN A POLICY?

To be sure you’re totally protected, we recommend paying a higher premium for policies that allow you to cancel a trip for any reason. This is an upgrade, therefore the cost of coverage will be approximately 40% to 50% more. However, because of this benefit, you can usually cancel your trip for any reason that isn’t covered by standard trip cancellation.

Need help finding the right travel insurance? Get in touch with us today.

6Jan

Travel Trends in 2022: Domestic, Sustainable, Self-actualizing

Sustainability, domestic travel, and mental & physical wellness are set to be the biggest travel trends in 2022 – this is according to École Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is a Swiss school that offers a Master of Science in Global Hospitality Management course in partnership with Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University.

The school conducted interviews and surveys with a wide network of industry experts, colleagues, and students from various backgrounds.

SUSTAINABILITY

Travel Trend 2022: Sustainability

The travel and hospitality industry needs to practice sustainability in most, if not all, aspects of its operations. Avid and casual travelers are now more aware and conscious of the environmental impact of visiting local and foreign places. Showing that your place of business takes steps towards eco-friendly practices increases visitor trust and preference this 2022.

What the pandemic has taught many travelers is the fragile state of man and nature whereby it’s important to disturb the natural state of things as little as possible – leaving as little carbon footprint as possible.

Sustainable measures include:

– Careful selection of consumable goods and building materials
– Increased use of green energy
– Hiring locals for manpower
– Offering more vegan/vegetarian cuisine options
– Better waste management

Such measures will appeal to more travellers who want to spend their time and money purposefully.

DOMESTIC HOLIDAYS

Travel Trend 2022: Domestic Holiday

The unpredictability of lockdowns and border entries has made international holidays less appealing. There’s added cost, time, and stress when all one wants to do is take a break. Staying closer to home is a practical choice and a great alternative where one can (re)discover their “backyards” and contribute to the recovery of their communities.

Hospitality businesses have also integrated the concept of “work and play” where there’s a pivot towards “workations” with facilities catering to fast Internet connectivity, meeting/break rooms for groups, soundproofed booths for video calls, and other offers.

Travel sites and apps have even been seen to feature long-term remote office stays. This will continue to evolve as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.

SELF-ACTUALIZING

Travel Trend 2022: Solo Travel

The pandemic has also readjusted many of people’s perspectives on the things that matter most. There’s been a pseudo-Rennaisance of old crafts, art, special interests, and so much more.

Trends indicate a rise in solo travel as well as self-discovery experiences. With this increase in self-care and mindfulness, solo travel lets one appreciate time alone with meditative value, discovering the world without distractions while making new friends.

Flexible work has made all this possible with many companies using this benefit to keep good talent and acquire new ones. Work-life balance comes into the spotlight this 2022 and people have discovered new ways of achieving it with self-actualizing travel.

In addition, holistic services and amenities will be sought after (and perhaps expected) from hospitality businesses. This shift is an opportunity to expand, explore, and upgrade operations in a post-pandemic world.

27Oct

Infographic: 5 Ways Travel Has Changed

COVID-19 is here to stay and so has the way we will all travel. Aside from the mandates and health documents that vary per country or region, travel behaviour is also expected to undergo several shifts.

This infographic shows 5 ways travel has changed – perhaps permanently.

Need help with travel insurance and other personal policies? We help expats find the best ones in Hong Kong.


Infographic: How Covid 19 has changed travel

11Jan

5 Changes in Travel with the Vaccine

Vaccine approval that came in the tail-end of 2020 has left travellers wondering what changes they should expect this year.

And as many countries ramp-up vaccinations, the world is once again left in the dark with the new strain of the virus that led to more shutdowns and closed borders.

Given the current situation, what changes can we expect?

VACCINATION PASSPORTS

Qantas Airlines stated in November that it will require proof of vaccination from their passengers once a vaccine is approved. This serves as an onset of what other airlines will do to ensure health and safety.

Many airlines are currently testing technology to streamline the health documentation process, including mobile health apps like CommonPassICC AOKpass and VeriFLY to ensure travellers can show their health data in a secure, verifiable way.

it is important to note, however, that until the vaccine is widely distributed, rigorous screening and quarantining will remain a key part of the travel experience — before and after travelling.

SOARING TRAVEL COSTS

Depending on the destination, foreign visitors will still be required to quarantine for periods ranging between 14 to 21 days. The new COVID strain has pushed many countries to require extended quarantine which means added cost for food, accommodation and other miscellaneous expenses.

The tourism industry has also adapted to travel bubbles in which a set of tourist destinations agree to accommodate a group of while keeping doors to new visitors closed. As a result, a person or group that’s planning to stay for only five days in a country will have to stay the same number of days with the batch they with whom they arrived. As such, one can incur additional expenses.

REDUCED CAPACITY & SHORTED ITINERARIES FOR CRUISES 

Most cruises will return sailing at a reduced capacity with limited routes. In the US, initial trips will be limited to 7 days, according to C.D.C. guidelines. Masks will be mandatory in all public areas including outdoor decks. Screening and testing will also be mandatory.

Even with intensified safety measures, several cruise lines in Europe and the Caribbean that sailed in recent months were ordered to cut trips short after reporting outbreaks.

BUSINESS TRAVEL UNLIKELY TO PICK-UP IN FIRST PART OF 2021

Travelling for business is not expected to recover soon with many businesses moving operations online. Majority of airline recovery will be from leisure travel during the first half of the year.

Frequent businesses flyers with points have also been assured that they’d still be able to use their points for future flights. What’s more likely to happen is that there will be an increase in value in how flier miles can be used in the first few quarters of 2021.

Finally, in relation to cruises and air travel, agencies and transportation providers are expected to roll out more flexible cancellation policies to last at least through 2022 or longer.

TRAVEL INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

An emphasis on travel insurance with repatriation and Covid-dedicated policies are also anticipated to emerge as Visa requirements. Expect insurance providers to offer new products that cater to these needs in the early part of 2021.

As it stands, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with international travel. Domestic holidays will prove to be the simpler and more cost-effective alternative for the lockdown-weary.

Need help with travel insurance? We help find the best policies for expats in Hong Kong.

31Oct

Travel in 2021: Overseas and Domestic Trips

2020 is the year of huge shifts. The pandemic may have permanently changed the way we go about normal activities – from dining out to travel.

The travel industry experienced one of the biggest negative impacts of Covid-19 with massive layoffs and restrictions that have delayed recovery. In addition, going on holidays and quick trips in nearby areas have turned into inconvenient (and hazardous) undertakings.

Getting overseas work for expats has also become uncertain with regions having different border policies that may change the very next day. However, there are some parts of the world slowly reopening to make way for economic recovery.

As we close the year with the information we know now, many of us may be wondering how travel will look like in this 2021. From our perspective here in Hong Kong and Asia in general, international and domestic travel will pivot to provide more protection to travellers and further prepare everyone better for unexpected events.

Here’s how we see travel in 2021:

DECREASED BUSINESS TRAVEL

Travel in 2021: Less Business Travel

Online interactions will be the norm even for traditional businesses. Video conferencing and collaborative software have allowed companies to operate through the pandemic which means 2021 will be a year of reinforcing digital infrastructures. With a bulk of operations moving to the digital space – from hiring to client management – we foresee less frequent business travels.

This trend could mean two things:

  1. Skill-based overseas work or the need for foreign hires will be fulfilled locally.
  2. A less nomadic life for digital nomads.

For businesses who may find more roadblocks while adapting, we also foresee the greater need for liability insurance and business travel insurance to cover all their bases.

THE EMERGENCE OF TRAVEL CONSULTANTS

Travel in 2021: Need for travel consultants

As people resume travelling, they will need to outline their itinerary to safely navigate through the new changes for different countries. Travellers will need expert advice on border and health policies to lessen risks and unnecessary stress. 

Top travel consultants will be highly sought after by travellers to help them plan holidays. This could signal an opportunity for travel agencies. As information becomes more complex, agents and tour operators will be expected to take care of all transportation arrangements with more attention to details regarding health regulations and customer safety.

Thus, the cost of travel may also increase and the coverage policies of travel insurance will see plenty of changes.

PRIVATE AIR TRAVEL FOR BUSINESSES

Travel in 2021: More private jet travel for businesses

According to industry reports, private jets are experiencing an exceptionally high level of bookings as of Q2 2020. Specifically, most of the booked flights are reserved for new customers. For various reasons, air travel is indispensable means of transportation. Pre-pandemic, commercial flights used to be easier and safer. In 2021, people will begin to turn to private jets to maximize safety, comfort and convenience. 

PREFERENCE FOR LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

Travel Trend in 2021: Local Attractions will be on demand

Social distancing will be permanently integrated into public transportation which makes international travel more costly (because airfare will cost more to make up for fewer passengers). Because of this, people will be keener on local destinations and itineraries that require less contact with other people such as bike tours, hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.

Travel is foreseen to be far different from how we knew it. Clearly, new ways of getting to a destination will need to be both safe and sustainable at the same time. Information sharing is crucial and we have to be cautious about more things at least until there is a vaccine. For now, businesses and travel-enthusiasts must adapt.

Get in touch with Village Insurance Direct for travel and liability insurance with Covid-19 cover. We can help find the right policy for your needs.

19Jun

Should I still get the flu shot during the pandemic?

Monsoon season signals the beginning of flu season – and with the world still trying to survive the coronavirus, is it still worth getting the flu shot even though it won’t protect us from Covid-19?

COVER ALL THE BASES

Stocking up on healthy food, vitamins, hand sanitizers as well as constant handwashing aren’t the only measures we can take to fortify our safety.

Getting the flu shot may not stop coronavirus but it could mean the difference between getting infected with mild symptoms or suffering (and possibly dying) from complications.

And since there’s a greater chance of a person getting the flu than the coronavirus, taking the vaccine is one of the best ways to stay healthy and avoid a mountain of medical bills.

Contact Village Insurance Direct for inquiries on medical insurance for expats in Hong Kong.

THE BEST TIME TO GET A FLU SHOT

In relevance to the ongoing pandemic and according to the CDC, people who have not received the flu vaccine for the current season and are planning to travel to regions where influenza activity is ongoing should get a flu vaccine to protect themselves during their trip.

In addition, the CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get an annual shot a three to six months before flu season starts.

STILL NEED TO TRAVEL? HERE ARE SOME TIPS:

– Be mindful and thorough with your research when you must travel to another country. The CDC provides updated information on seasonal flu activity throughout the world.

– During your trip, observe local guidelines such as mask-wearing and practice healthy habits.

– After a trip, closely monitor your health for seven days. In case one becomes ill with flu-like symptoms, immediately seek medical attention if they are severe.

For inquiries on travel insurance that covers repatriation and other measures to protect you during a pandemic, get it touch with us today.

13Mar

What If I’ve Booked My Flight? Covid-19 & Travel Insurance

As the coronavirus crisis grows, should you stay or should you go when you’ve already booked your flight?

 

Here are quick answers to your frequently asked questions:

Q: Should I still travel?

A: The advice is against ‘all but essential’ travel. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against travel to a number of areas due to the ongoing outbreak. Please check the UK FCO website for country-specific information.

Be aware that there may be enhanced screening/monitoring at entry and exit ports. In some countries, you may also be required to self-isolate for a set period, even if you do not have symptoms.

Q: Can I get a refund if my flight is cancelled?

A: Flights to affected areas are being cancelled based on FCO advice and some are solely due to a downturn in bookings.

If you booked directly with an airline, you are eligible for a refund or to rebook free of charge (although you may still have to pay any fare difference incurred). If you booked through a third party, you will need to contact them to find out your options.

Q: I’m apprehensive to travel but I’d like to push through. What does my insurance cover?

A: Airlines, tour companies and insurance providers have no obligation to offer refunds based on panic.

So if you decide not to travel to anywhere outside the FCO travel risk list, you are unlikely to get refunded. It’s worth checking because some providers may allow you to move the booking as an incentive or an act of goodwill.

Q: Am I insured for cancellations?

A: Contact your airline, hotel or tour operator to check their policy.

If they can’t help, you will most likely need to have travel disruption cover included in your policy if you plan on travelling and getting insurance.

AA, Co-op, LV and Virgin Money all have policies that will cover for cancellations based on FCO advice, and hotel costs should your flight be cancelled. You also have protection using a credit card if your booking was more than £100. 

Q: What if I end up in quarantine?

A: Comply with the rules of local authorities, which will probably involve a 14-day quarantine. It is unclear who will cover the cost of your journey home: either the UK Government could arrange a rescue flight or your travel insurance could cover your return. Check your policy provider.

Most insurance policies will cover medical costs should you become ill overseas but make sure you check the small print. If you’ve booked and simply don’t want to travel because you’re worried, you won’t have grounds for a refund.

Upon Your Return

Returned travellers who feel unwell with either a high temperature or new continuous cough, need to self-isolate for 7 days, see the Public Health England stay at home guidance. There is no need to call NHS111 to go into self-isolation. However, if symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, returned travellers in England, should contact NHS 111 online. Those without internet access, should call NHS 111 and for a medical emergency dial 999. In Wales and Northern Ireland contact NHS 111. In Scotland, phone your GP or NHS24 (111).

6Dec

Reducing the Stress When Travelling with Kids

Travelling with a child is not easy. As much as we would want to travel with the whole family, the logistics can be a great source of stress and anxiety. However, just like with anything in life, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Here are a few tips for stress-free travelling with a child:

Take care of yourself before anybody else.

Monkey see, monkey do. If a child sees or feels anxiety from the parents, then they would most likely copy the mood. It’s important to remember that in order to take care of someone, you have to be in your best condition first. So, make sure that you get enough sleep before the trip and your health is conditioned for travel. Take Vitamin Cs to boost your immunity. With all the stress that’s bound to come, you’re going to need it.

Destination, planning, and packing.

Take into account if the place you’re going is suitable for the child. You can save that Machu Picchu hiking expedition for when your 2-year-old is a little older. Also, make sure that you always have a child-friendly room where you’re going, especially if travelling with an infant.

Create a schedule and book the rooms and the places you want to visit in advance as much as possible. It’s better to have an adjustable itinerary in cases of emergency, rather than have none at all.

Pack just enough diapers and pull-ups for the trip to your destination. Book a room near a pharmacy for easy access to your child’s necessities.

Food, water, and first aid

Keep them fed and hydrated with low-sugar snacks. Make sure all their necessary vitamins, medications and formula are in your carry-on.

Distractions

Bring their favourite toy and keep art supplies within your reach for when your child starts to get bored. Load your tablet or smartphone with their favourite shows.

Keep them close

Save yourself from a heart attack and buy a kid’s harness. It’s weird to see a child on a leash but it will keep them close to you. Before going out, write your contact details on your child’s arm and make them wear a bracelet tag with the same information. At night, make sure that they’re wearing something fluorescent, like a glow stick, to easily spot them in a crowd should they stray.

At the end of the day, we just want our kids to be comfortable, happy, and safe. So, it’s important to meticulously plan a child-centred trip. Making them part of that process ensures satisfaction of not only your child but, also, yourself.

FAMILY INSURANCE

We recommend getting family insurance especially when traveling for an extended period of time. Find an international plan that covers the country you’re visiting. We help expats find the right family insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.

28Nov

Ten Commandments for Stress-Free Travels

You know what can make your travelling more fun? A comprehensive set of rules.

Here are 10 travel commandments that all wanderers have to live by:

  • Thou shall plan ahead

Contrary to the carefree facade that is displayed, travelling actually involves so much planning. What places should I go to and will there be time? Where do I stay? How much money should I bring? How many clothes do I pack? Does my travel insurance cover my destinations?

The truth of the matter is, preparation is the key to a carefree vacation. Planning ahead can save you from a whole lot headache should the unforeseeable comes.

  • Thou shall not travel without insurance

Extra security is always welcome when travelling especially if you’re exploring an unknown territory. Travel insurance may be costly but you’ll be thanking yourself when you lose a bag, miss a flight, or get sick while travelling abroad.

  • Thou shall stay in budget

Sure. It’s nice to buy your 6th mahogany turtle display, but is it really necessary?

  • Thou shall pack smart

Packing has to be the most tedious task in travelling. Always keep in mind to pack only what is necessary to avoid being weightlifter your entire trip, BUT also have at least 2-3 sets of emergency clothes. You don’t want to end up using both sides of your underwear, don’t you? 

  • Thou shall eat the local cuisines

Whether it’s the famous hawkers in Singapore or the lechon in Cebu, Philippines, travelling is not travelling if you don’t try the local’s specialty dishes. The food is part of the culture.

  • Thou shall refrain from fast food

I know, McDonald’s is calling you but it’s still going to be there after you’ve gone home. That stew made on goat innards will not be. Live a little and try something different for your palate.

  • Thou shall lessen social media

People travel to get away, to disconnect. Travelling should be an immersion but you can’t really, fully do that if 75% of your attention is on your Instagram “Likes”, and 15% is on your “Stories”.

Just post one photo then go offline. Open it again when the has come to an end. Enjoy your travel in real life.

  • Thou shall know and respect another’s house

Gain hindsight of the place you’re going. Research on their laws and a bit of their culture and, most importantly, respect them. Don’t ever think you’re exempted just because you’re not “one of them”.

  • Thou shall keep an open mind

Hate to break it to you but, believe it or not, cultures and customs other than yours exists. Sometimes your weird is another’s normal, what’s nothing for you can be a sign of utmost disrespect. The world is a kaleidoscope. Try to see it in all its colors.

  • Thou shall be brave

Travelling can be scary, especially if you’re doing it alone for the first time. It takes an outstanding amount of courage to take that literal first step out to the world. And sure, mishaps can happen but think about what a great story you’ll have at the end of it all.

For help with international travel insurance, click here. We specialize in finding the best insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.

28Oct

Traveling for Food: Exploring food allergies

What draws you to travel?

What blossomed in the East started to find its way into the global palate. Expats from Europe and the US have made gastronomic trips to Asia to further understand the culture of each different country, from the bowls of spicy noodles to the more exotic street and hawker stalls.

However, there is a limit to knowing the world through cuisines. Embedded within us is a limiting agent in the form of allergies to remind us that our body can only handle so much.

Allergies are our body’s unique way of telling us what is compatible and what is not to our system. The reactions extend to the basic choices we make such as “tasty” or “not”.

By law, the FDA has listed eight categories as designated food allergens (Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans).

The categories seem easy on first glance until you realize that food allergies vary individually. Recent researches highlight the stark contrast with allergens through regions, such as in the West versus the East. This is vital information for travellers.

Here are a few common food allergies to help backpackers, expats, and casual travellers be more cautious while they explore Asia through food.

food allergies while travelling - Village Insurance Direct Hong Kong

Shellfish

According to a paper written in 2013, shellfish tops the list in food allergens in Asians, particularly in children, mainly due to its availability and demand in the region. A 2014 study from the Singapore Medical Journal, also reinforces the idea. While a lot of Asian cuisines is built on shellfish, a large chunk of the population remains highly allergic to it.

Peanuts

Peanuts remain as the top allergen in America and in some parts of Europe. The total number of cases in Asia is relatively low, but in some areas like in Singapore, the statistics prove otherwise. A good 15 years ago, peanut allergies had lower cases and aren’t considered a top allergen, until recently. This is a testament to the changing diets Asians have had through the years.

Wheat

Rice is the staple carbohydrate of every Asian. But to have wheat included in the list makes you want to feel bad for craving for bread as much as the next guy. Japan and South Korea, two countries famous for revolutionary modern takes on bread, suffer from prevalent cases of wheat allergy. They also rake in high numbers of anaphylaxis cases from this specific allergen.

Travel as much as you like, and eat as much as you like. Food allergies exist to make you aware of your limits, but not to scare you to crawl back to your comfort zones. Be bold and stick NOT with what you’re always comfortable with, but with what you’re COMPATIBLE with.

Serious allergic reaction to food can cause some people to be hospitalized. To be more secure during your travel, make sure you find a travel insurance that covers emergency hospitalization in the country you’re travelling.

We find the best travel insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.