Common travel problems and how to resolve them easily
The Seoul tragedy left the world mourning, and accentuates the need to re-look into travel insurance plans and its coverage
Many dream holiday destination trips had been postponed or even cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two to three years. However, at the moment, things have eased up and nearly all countries across the world have gradually opened up their borders.
With that happening, it’s an opportunity to review your last holiday trips that you postponed earlier or even called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you start planning your delayed holiday, you also need to think about some of the things that may go south while you’re travelling – from lost wallets to missed flights to even medical emergencies — and how to resolve them. As seen from the recent tragedy in Itaewon, accidents can happen, and it is crucial to know how to best protect yourself.
Read on to find out more about the problems you might meet when travelling and how to resolve them.
Natural disasters are typically defined as large‐scale extreme weather or environmental events that damage property, disrupt transportation or utilities, or endanger people.
In case of disasters such as volcanic eruptions, fires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, remain indoors and contact your nearest Singapore Overseas Mission or embassy as fast as you can.
You also need to check if your next flight is cancelled or on schedule.
It’s imperative to choose a travel insurance policy that covers you in the event of such disasters. Travel insurance that includes trip cancellation benefits can not only reimburse you for pre-paid trip costs if you have to cancel your trip for a reason that’s covered, it can also cover damages or injuries caused by such natural disasters.
Man-made disasters include circumstances such as protest, riots, terrorist attacks, unrest, stampedes and the like. In the event that you are caught in one of these, always seek the nearest refuge, be it to evacuate or look for an in-place shelter. Once safely out of harm’s way, call the local authorities for help and clearly explain what you know about the situation.
Countries that have been listed by the UN as unstable countries (e.g. Russia, Ukraine) are not insured by travel insurance. Therefore, travel to these countries at your own risk. It’s always best to heed travel advisories and check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website before flying out of Singapore.
Falling sick is a bad situation when travelling since familiar medication may not be available. When you need over-the-counter medicine, you can try finding one online that works similarly to the one you’re looking for. And if it gets worse, try finding a doctor who speaks your language.
Testing Positive For COVID-19
Before The Flight
In the unfortunate event that you test positive for COVID-19 before your flight, you’ll have to cancel or postpone your travel plans.
Depending on your airline, you may be able to seek a refund with no cancellation fees or reschedule your flight with no additional fees.
You can also claim your prepaid trip expenses from your travel insurance (up to your coverage limit).
In this case, it’s good to keep a folder with all your prepaid bookings and receipts/invoices to smoothen the process of making claims.
If you were to test positive for COVID-19 during your travel, here’s what you need to do:
1. Take an official COVID-19 test after your positive self-test
2. Isolate yourself from your travel companions & crowds
3. Check if you’re required to report your COVID-19 case to the local health authorities & follow the local COVID-19 health guidelines
4. Check your travel insurance for COVID-19-related coverage
5. Reschedule your flights and extend accommodations if necessary
Again, keep all your receipts and invoices safe as you would need them to make a claim when you return back to Singapore.
If you rent a vehicle to drive in a foreign country and you get into an accident, here’s what you need to do:
● Document everything you can – take photos of all damages, write down the contacts of everyone involved in the accident
● Remember to keep all the receipts and documents, including police reports, rental agreement and the original invoice of rental access
● If anyone requires medical assistance, remember to retain the hospital receipts as well to facilitate insurance claims
Flight delays are a common issue and mostly happen whenever there are pilot strikes or even technical problems. It also happens when you opt for low-cost airlines and fly from, or to, small airstrips.
Always check your mailbox and SMS alerts to avoid missing flights due to schedule changes.
For flight delays, you can claim under your travel insurance for compensation for time lost.
If, for some reason, you miss your flight, call your airline and hope that they have the flat-tire rule.
This is always a common yet unofficial one that allows passengers to get the next flight with no extra charge when late for two hours for reasons beyond their control.
If that doesn’t work, you will need to book a new flight.
Losing items when travelling isn’t unheard of. However, depending on the type of items you lose, the consequences can vary.
Here are some important items that could result in heavy distress if you were to lose them, and what you should do if this happens to you.
Stolen or Misplaced Phone
In the 21st century, your smartphone falls under the essentials category whenever you are out and about.
That’s because it’s a multi-functional tool, performing important tasks such as keeping in touch with travel mates, a travel guidebook, GPS and even a depository of all your important information.
If you’re unable to find your phone, here’s what you can do:
● Use your operating system’s inbuilt function (Find My iPhone for iOS and Find My Device for Google) on a friend’s phone to see if you can find your device’s last known location
● Alternatively, you can also play a sound to see if it’s dropped between the cracks of the hotel room’s furniture
Now, if you’re sure that your phone is unrecoverable, use your OS’s inbuilt function to lock your phone and remotely erase all data.
After that, go to the nearest police station and lodge a police report with your missing phone’s details.
Remember to get a copy of the police report for your insurance claims.
The moment you notice that your wallet is missing, you need to block all your debit and credit cards immediately. You can call your bank to make the process fast enough to secure your funds.
You can do all that by finding your bank’s hotline numbers on the internet. Other than blocking all of your cards, you can also request for emergency local currency to be sent to you within two hours if you have MasterCard.
There are also credit replacement services that can send you a new card within 48 hours and have it delivered through express courier to your accommodation. Visa also provides advance cash and even card replacement services through their hotline.
● Visa hotline: 1-800-847-2911
● MasterCard hotline: Find Global Emergency Contacts here
Aside from your phones and cards, the last thing you want to lose is your passport.
Should you lose your precious travel document, you need to report to the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission.
At the Overseas Mission, you will be handed a temporary Document of Identity (DOI).
For you to qualify for DOI you will need the following documents:
● Your Identity card
● 2 copies of your latest passport size colour photos (It’s a good idea to keep a soft copy of them in your Cloud storage)
● A police report if your passport was stolen or a statutory declaration at Overseas Mission
Your DOI will get you home. However, on arrival, you will need to apply for a new passport.
Before filing a report of your lost passport, you need to double-check to ensure that it's really lost since the previous one will be cancelled even if you recover it later.
Lost or Delayed Luggage
While travelling, lost or even delayed luggage can drive so much anxiety. Apart from that, there’s also the chance that your luggage may have been put onto the wrong flight and sent out to another continent.
These scenarios are quite common, especially on transit flights.
In this case, you need to alert the airline about the lost luggage as fast as you can so that they are able to plan for your luggage to be delivered to wherever you reside within 24 hours.
If the luggage contains essentials such as clothes for keeping you warm in winter, you need to go shopping right away since they are all claimable under “reasonable expenditure” that is covered by the airline.
Delayed and lost luggage are also claimable with travel insurance.
Travel problems can be draining, but by knowing how to deal with them, you can reduce that stress.
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