Travel Insurance for Japan & South East Asia
Written for Nihon Scope 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.
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