Travel Insurance for Japan and South East Asia
by: Toshi Yuuki
I’ve been in the field of travel for many years and I know a thing or two about the importance of purchasing travel insurance before going on a trip across seas, so I decided to reach out to Nihon Scope to offer a few helpful tips to you their readers. These few stories will help you understand why it’s important and how to receive the best insurance for your trip to Japan or anywhere for that matter in Asia (or the world).
Why You Need Travel Insurance
Over 15 years I’ve seen almost everything you can think of when it comes to things not going the way they were planned. From luggage being lost or stolen, or a sudden sickness or if your hotel ended up booking YOUR room to someone else and won’t refund you, or if you’re traveling with expensive equipment and it ends up broken/lost or if they’re stolen this is the point of WHY you purchase travel insurance. Leaving it to fate is not always the best bet, which I will explain here in just a minute.
But first, WHY should you listen to me about this?
Great question, and that comes down to knowing a bit of who I am. I’ve been assisting individuals such as yourself for the last 15 years and through those 15 years I’ve met so many travel hopefuls who decided to leave their trip up to fate. One thing I can honestly say though is that a good portion of these people didn’t need it in the end, which is wonderful. But the damage and the utter heart broken moments of my career are from those who decided against travel insurance while traveling in South East Asia and Japan and their luck turned.
The Japanese Medical System
One thing you should know about the medical system in Japan is that it’s a universal health care type of system (but not for foreigners/tourists without proof of insurance), but because of that the Japanese have a hard time taking foreigners because it’s a system the people all pay into. The Hokensho (health insurance card) that Japanese people carry is something you only get if you end up living in Japan, so to be able to be accepted into clinics and hospitals you need to show proof of insurance, and travel insurance will cover many clinics and most hospitals in about every circumstance.
The sad part about this is that many times people have been denied care even under situations that were life or death. At times (meaning it’s not EVER guaranteed in Japan) hospitals will make it right by saving peoples lives, but there have been people that had to be flown out of the country to go somewhere that would take them, and the immediate flight coupled with medical supervision is very expensive and risky. These types of situations happen often for those looking to go to Japan or throughout South East Asia to go backpacking, trekking, skiing, mountain climbing or scuba diving (or anything else a bit on possibly dangerous side for a given activity)
What to make sure of when you’re purchasing your travel insurance when concerned about sickness, medical of accident:
Full medical coverage and evacuation coverage,
Dangerous activity coverage or exclusion and proof of insurance.
I’ve met seniors who saved for years to travel to Japan, Korea, China etc, and have all their luggage stolen or misplaced, making the start of a trip that’s suppose to be a beautiful experience into a dreadful and heart sinking experience having to take the first several days of the trip spending vast amounts of money and time recouping their loss. Could you imagine that? Feeling excited to visit somewhere new and far away from home, only to find everything got turned upside down upon arrival!
I have a family member whose a photographer who traveled to Japan without purchasing travel insurance only to find when they arrived they found the airlines had mishandled their equipment and over $5,000 of damage had occurred leaving him having to fight with airlines about the damages. After 8 months of back and forth he could only retrieve around $1,500 for damages and a free airfare ticket back to Japan.
If you’re traveling with expensive equipment (or anything you don’t want to have to replace on your own) Be sure to check your travel insurance to see if it covers:
Lost, stolen or damaged gear or luggage.
So as you can see I’ve met and discussed in detail the importance of travel insurance with many individuals who told me they wouldn’t need it. The sad but interesting part of those people I spoke to about buying travel insurance before booking their flight are more then not the ones who ended up needing it the most and not having it! On the other hand those who took my advice to purchase travel insurance and it ended up safeguarding themselves and their families well-being while at the same time returning their trip to normal with an a matter of an afternoon.
Traveling aboard to Japan or anywhere throughout South East Asia is expensive already. Adding travel insurance should be a no-brainer honestly, it can be seen as important as buckling up when getting in a car, but when travel is involved your chances of having something happen is much greater statistically then the use of a seat belt, but that doesn’t stop us from using seat belts does it?
I’m sure you’re starting to feel why it’s so important to check travel insurance off your list before you leave now right? Don’t leave your trip and experience of traveling to Japan in the hands of fate, many times traveling to such a place is a once in a life time opportunity, make sure it’s a solid investment.