Movement from one place to another, irrespective of the mode of transportation, involves some element of risk and uncertainty. Fatal accidents may occur; bodily injuries may be sustained; limbs may be broken or severed from the body; and luggage may be stolen or damaged while in transit. Here lies the importance of Insurance as its function is to protect as well as financially compensate the policyholder who in this case, is the traveller. In common parlance, insurance is a contract involving two parties: the insurer and the insured. The insurer, usually a limited liability company, undertakes to financially compensate the insured in the event of the occurrence of the incident hedged against and stated in the insurance policy. Although there are various classes of insurance, their policies are based on defined activities. Irrespective of the activity, the insurer provides protection against uncertainties, hence its attractiveness.
Air Travel Insurance
Globally, air travel is regarded as the safest means of transportation. In other words, as compared to other means of transportation, it has the best safety record. However, in spite of its impressive antecedents, accidents sometimes occur with devastating effects on families and organizations. In other words, fatalities or deaths, personal injuries, permanent disablement that may arise as result of the accidents sustained during flights. Even when accidents did not happen, there are logistic challenges which may result in loss or damage of luggage, unusual flight delays or even cancellation of flights. These logistical issues often result in missed important appointments, loss of business opportunities or valuable assets contained in a traveller’s baggage. In view of the uncertainties associated with these occurrences, it is imperative that travellers protect themselves from these unexpected hazards associated with air travel, particularly in the Nigerian environment by procuring air travel insurance policy.
What is Air Travel Insurance?
This is an insurance policy or contract between a fare-paying passenger (the insured) and an insurer (an insurance company) to indemnify the insured while travelling with a designated airline from one airport to another within the country. The policy often covers flight cancellation, flight delays after certain number of hours and accidents arising from the flight which may result in death, bodily injury and the payment of medical expenses. The conditions for enjoying these benefits are usually indicated in the policy. It is not a policy that covers movement of the passenger from home to the airport or from the airport to final destination. It is operative immediately after check-in, during flight, arrival at destination and departure from airport arrival lounge by the fare-paying passenger. The policy is available on-line or at the airport.
Depending on the terms specified in the insurance contract, the policy often provides the following cover: Death as a result of accident, Permanent disability as result of accident, Flight cancellation or delays of more than 8hrs, Emergency medical expenses, Mishandled/missing baggage, Damage to baggage.
As a by-product of Aviation Insurance which entail the procurement of insurance to protect owners of aircrafts, Air Travel Insurance is a product designed to protect the traveller from one airport to another against the risk of accidents resulting in death within 90 days of the accident, personal bodily injury and disablement as well as the risks associated with cancellation of flights, unusual flight delays, damage or loss of baggage. It is not about refund of airfare. It is a compensation for financial loss and body injury. While airlines treat safety with utmost sense of responsibility, handling of passengers’ luggage as well as unusual flight delays often occur, the air travel insurance is designed to provide additional comfort and protection to travellers by offering to compensate them for logistic challenges associated with their local flights.
Propriety of having Air Travel Insurance
In spite of the fact that the owners of the aircraft are statutorily required to insure their planes, it is not difficult to appreciate the importance of an air travel insurance policy to the traveller.
First, like any other form of Insurance, Travel Insurance gives the buyers a peace of mind to embark on their trips. They do not need to fret about safety and loss of luggage. Secondly, in an environment in which scheduled flights are observed in the breach by airlines without consideration for their customers, this insurance policy provides compensation for undue flight delays and cancellation. Thirdly, the insurance policy provides compensation for the medical bills incurred for accident during the trip. For instance, over head cabins for luggage might open and cause injuries to passengers. There might be a stampede, for instance, due to fire alarm, which may result in injuries of a fare-paying passenger that has been checked into a flight. In that situation, the policy will ensure that the medical bills of affected passengers are paid. Also, in the event of a loss of baggage or mishandling of same by the airline personnel causing material damage, the passenger will be compensated to the maximum value indicated in the policy.
Air Travel Insurance is a cheap insurance policy which is procured without any bureaucracy associated with the documentation of standard insurance policy. The policy is relatively cheap. It is valid only for one trip and it is not transferable. Therefore, passengers are advised not to travel with tickets not issued in their names no matter the urgency of the itinerary. The policy cover commences when the buyer is checked-in at the point of departure and terminates when the policyholder leaves the arrival lounge of the airport on arrival. It was the above benefits that prompted Risk Analyst Insurance Brokers Limited (RAIB) to jointly develop and introduce this product into the Nigerian market.
How to access the benefits
When any event that gives rise to a claim occurs, the passenger should immediately notify the airline or the insurance broker if any. Depending on the nature of incident, the following documents will be required to process the claims: Travel Insurance certificate, Flight ticket, Evidence of flight cancellation or delay, Medical bills/Medical report (in case of accident), Photograph of damaged baggage(in case of damage to baggage).
The point must however be made that there are exceptions to this insurance policy cover. If flights are delayed or cancelled due to natural causes or event, the passenger cannot make any claim. For instance, if due to bad weather and for safety reasons, airlines are precluded from taking off and landing, the insured cannot legitimately make any claim. Similarly, the air travel insurance policy is not an insurance against loss of personal effects or money during the trip. In other words, pilfering or thieving aboard the airline is not covered by the policy. Passengers have the responsibility to secure their personal effects during flights.
Air Travel Insurance policy is a relatively cheap and easy way that a fare-paying passenger can protect himself/herself against the hazards and logistic challenges associated with local air travel in Nigeria. As a frequent traveller who uses Arik Airline, this product has been developed to enhance the benefits you currently enjoy by patronizing this Nigeria’s leading airline. Risk Analyst Insurance Brokers Limited will leverage its wealth of experience to ensure that you enjoy the benefits of this insurance policy.
–Babington-Ashaye, FCII, MBA is MD/CEO, Risk Analyst Insurance Brokers Ltd