Thursday, September 21, 2017

Outbound travel insurance needs attention

Insurance for travel overseas is only gradually becoming more popular as Myanmar people become more familiar with foreign travel, insurance experts say.

State-run Myanma Insurance says it has been offering such a service for years, but most travellers are unaware of it.

People intending to travel to some destinations, particularly in Europe, are required to show they have travel insurance as part of the visa application service. But many others simply do not bother.

“People aren’t used to buying cover because of unfamiliarity with insurance and banking systems,” said one insurance official, adding that insurance was vital to protect travellers against unforeseen consequences and accidents during their trip.

Myanma Insurance sells 20 packages a week, starting at K200 each for foreign trips lasting from a week to three months, he said.

He added that travel agencies wishing to sell insurance for foreign trips must sign an agreement with Myanma Insurance.

“A few outbound tour companies and Bodhgaya pilgrimage companies buy insurance packages for their customers, so people are becoming more aware,” he said.

Daw Cherry Win, managing director of Myanmar Myat Cherry Travel and Tours, told The Myanmar Times that her company offered insurance only for domestic travel.

“Some customers arrange their own overseas insurance. If a customer asks us to do it we will, but there’s not much call for it,” she said.

Foreign tour companies include travel insurance services automatically, so people don’t need local insurance, she said. “We will introduce the service, and insurance companies are advertising it, so I expect it will become more popular in future.”

Travel insurance is required while visiting Europe, said Daw Sabei Aung, managing director of Nature Dream Travel.

“Travellers buy insurance just for visa purposes. Normally otherwise they wouldn’t bother, because they don’t realise how important it can be. But some are aware of the need for security,” she said, adding that most foreign visitors to Myanmar were insured.

“It’s up to the customers, but they are becoming more aware of the need for insurance, as the banking system develops and international insurance companies are opening up here.”

Myanmar also announced a health insurance plan that started on July 1 and is to run for a one-year test period, though companies said they expect that demand may initially be slow.