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Travel agents tell tourists to insure themselves

(China Daily)

10:01, May 11, 2013

Tourists heading overseas urged to buy policies after spate of accidents

Leading travel agencies say they are urging everyone planning to travel abroad this summer to insure themselves fully, after a string of recent accidents involving holidaymakers.

Industry leaders said they want to raise the current 90 percent of people who buy travel policies in China, to 100 percent, as they gear up for what many expect to be the fourth straight year of record-breaking outbound travel.

"Our sales teams work hard to convince customers of the need to buy insurance as part of their travel packages, and always notify them of the best kinds of cover," said Zhu Haining, deputy general manager of Shanghai Airlines Tours Outbound Travel Co Ltd.

There have been several high-profile incidents involving tourists in recent months, the most dramatic being an attack on one by a hippopotamus in Africa.

Others included a diving death in Thailand, and a balloon crash in Egypt, which killed nine travelers from Hong Kong.

Zhu added that insurance ideally covers not only medical expenses, but also any other form of financial loss incurred during a trip.

To those who plan to travel abroad for the first time, he suggested that they consider travel insurance as a "buffer zone", both physically and mentally.

But this "leveraging of risk" is not yet embedded in Chinese culture, Zhu noted.

"One of our key roles is to educate the market about the importance of insurance. I would like to see the rate of people taking out travel insurance rise to 100 percent within two years."

That expectation is shared by Lu Jianming, outbound travel center assistant general manager at Shanghai Jinjiang Tours Co Ltd.

As many as 95 percent of Jinjiang's group travelers opt for an insurance package, but Lu said there is still room to grow that.

"Especially on the trips that include higher risk activities such as winter sports or diving, we always urge customers to buy it. But any tourist should consider insurance as a necessity, rather than an option," said Lu.

The general belief held by tourists is that insurance only allows you extra cover in the event of illness or accident, Lu said.

"But even if you encounter something as common as delays, it's better to have travel cover."

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