All airline travellers are protected – to some extent. Aircrafts are insured, and in the event something untoward happens during a flight, passengers are covered by the airline’s insurance.
But do you know that aside from being protected as a traveller, you are also protected as a consumer, a buyer of airline services?
The Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) was created to ensure that air travellers get the care and compensation they are entitled to. It protects passenger rights and ensure related parties in the aviation industry abide by a code of conduct to ensure each passenger’s journey goes as smoothly as possible.
Amongst other things, the MACPC regulates refunds for flight cancellations, compensation for mishandled luggage, the provision of meals, phone calls and internet access for delayed flights; and accommodation for extended delays.
With this kind of protection now in place, should travellers still purchase travel insurance?
How much is enough?
And when is it too much?
We asked smart travellers for their views, and here’s what we found out.
Anthony C. runs his own business consultancy, and travels around the world to meet his clients and industry partners. Living in Miri, he travels short haul to KLIA and KLIA2, and sometimes to Singapore, to catch onward connections to Europe, US and across Asia. He tells us that airline coverage, consumer protection and personal protection are three different things, and serve three different purposes for a traveller like him.
Airline coverage is primarily designed to ensure the sustainability of an airline business. While coverage for passengers is included, claims often take a long time to be processed in the event of an incident, and are limited to areas where the airline is held directly responsible, for example where a plane has encountered unforeseen circumstances, where passengers have been injured during particularly bumpy turbulence, or exposed to some kind of mishap or hazard.
The MACPC, in turn, ensures that a traveller’s journey isn’t disrupted, and when it is, that he or she is adequately cared for and compensated in order to continue their journey.
What happens when a traveller is on his journey, but outside of the realm of what the airline insurance and MACPC covers? This is where travel insurance comes in.
Travel insurance covers a variety of different circumstances and situations, such as issues before you travel, during your travel, flight delays and flight cancellations. Travel insurance can be very basic or widely extensive at best, covering even the smallest detail of a trip.
One way of evaluating the coverage provided by travel insurance versus airline coverage and the MACPC is looking at mishandled or lost luggage.
When a piece of luggage is lost, the airline is obliged to pay the passenger the provision stated in the MACPC for the delayed, lost or damaged luggage. This amount could be below what seasoned travellers often carry, like product samples or simply better-quality business attire etc.
The MACPC, on the other hand, states that airlines, whether local or foreign, are still responsible for ensuring that the passenger receives necessary compensation regardless of whether they had purchased a travel insurance or not.
Where travel insurance helps: If a passenger has purchased travel insurance, and the compensation offered by the airline is insufficient to cover the losses, the passenger can claim the additional losses from his insurance provider, subject to the terms and conditions of the insurance policy and the outcome of the investigation and review.
Travel insurance can also close the gaps that airline and the MACPC don’t cover through the entire travel period, like accidents, illness, hospitalisation, or in extreme conditions, emergency medical transportation to the passenger’s home country.
In Anthony’s case, travel insurance came in really handy on a recent trip to Delhi, India.
His flight back to Malaysia was delayed by over 48 hours, and he was suffering from a severe bout of the stomach flu picked up on his travels. Instead of waiting to see a doctor at home, he saw a medical specialist at a Delhi hospital, and received the inpatient treatment and medical care he needed immediately.
The medical costs were covered by his personal travel insurance, while the MACPC code ensured he received all possible compensation for the delayed flight, including hotel accommodation.