Passengers at Dubai International airport departure at the start of holiday season. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: UAE residents are being urged to check the fine print on their travel insurance before flying abroad during the New Year period, with some policies potentially leaving them short on cover in an emergency.

Gaps in provision are especially problematic when travel insurance is offered as an ‘extra’, such as when booking a holiday or as part of a credit card contract, an insurance expert has said.

“These are good insurance policies from reputable companies, but they are often very simple and take a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Paul Brierley of Nexus Insurance Brokers.

“A policy that you purchase by checking a box as part of a travel booking will rarely be tailored to your individual circumstances and needs. By definition, it must be based on some very general assumptions, rather than a personalised assessment,” added Brierley, who is a Business Development Director at the Dubai-based brokerage.

Purchasing travel insurance online is very straightforward, but Brierley urged travellers with non-standard requirements to consult a broker.

Travel documents. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

“One important point of difference is medical evacuation — when illness or injury requires specialised transport home,” he said. “One of the online policies Nexus checked — offered as an add-on when booking travel online from Dubai — specified evacuation to the ‘country of issuance’, so only to the UAE. Many expats prefer to be evacuated to their home country, and a broker will find you a policy that gives you that choice.”

Nexus also identified issues for travellers buying flights through online ‘discount airfare’ search engines. Many of these discount fares combine separate, unrelated airlines for outbound and return journeys, so the passenger is effectively buying two one-way tickets.

“If you buy travel insurance as an add-on with the outbound airline, it may only cover a one-way journey rather than the return trip,” Brierley explained. “Insurers often place a time limit on a one-way policy, with some only offering a maximum of seven days’ cover. If the total holiday is longer than a week, you won’t be covered for the whole trip.”

Domestic flights within your destination country can also be subject to complicated rules, he added, and specific activities may be excluded, such as riding a motorcycle or scooter, or sports with a higher risk of injury, such as skiing.

“Check the fine-print and check the exclusions before clicking ‘buy now’, and if there is any doubt or confusion, consult a broker,” said Brierley. “Make sure your travel insurance is right for you, so you have the peace of mind to enjoy your break.”