Muscat: Travel agents based in the Sultanate have disclosed that the lack of awareness about the benefits of insurance is the reason why many tourists from Oman fail to secure medical insurance before travelling abroad.
They said both Omani and foreign tourists can generally afford to secure medical insurance during their travels, as policies today are economical.
Travel agents said there is reason to be optimistic, however, as more people are learning about medical insurance and responding positively, and a number of countries have made it compulsory for travellers to secure insurance.
“Generally, in our part of the world, there is a lack of seriousness in getting travel insurance while planning a trip, unless the countries one wants to visit mandates it,” said Mezoon Travels Chief Operating Officer Riyaz Kuttery. “However, this trend is changing, albeit slowly. Most travel agents now recommend it when selling an airline ticket or a holiday package.”
“In fact, travellers realise that it is not as expensive as they used to think,” he added. “It is always safer to get insured wherever you travel so you have reasonable protection while abroad.”
Samir Gandhi from Travel Point LLC noted that there has been a change in attitudes as far as Oman-based tourists are concerned. More Omani tourists now secure medical insurance before travelling abroad, he claimed.
“We encourage travellers to secure travel insurance policies that provide medical coverage at the point of sale,” said Gandhi. “Travellers today are better informed and aware of the need to have medical coverage. Moreover, a lot of countries require medical insurance as a prerequisite.”
He added that his firm has made medical insurance easily accessible for tourists.
“Travel insurance can be included as a part of the package, or it can be optional,” he said.
“It is easily accessible from our side. Travel insurance is recommended. This goes back to greater awareness, accessibility and improved education about the benefits.
“The need for emergency healthcare at any destination can be stressful, as well as expensive,” remarked Gandhi. “I mean, would you drive your car without motor insurance?”
A long-term Oman-based expat said she always makes sure she gets travel insurance whenever she travels to avoid any unnecessary expenses in case of an emergency.
“Yes, mostly I do get insured,” she said. “I’m a firm believer of the adage, ‘better safe than sorry.’ Plus, getting medical insurance is mandatory when visiting a number of countries today.”