Travelling to Hualien or Other Parts of Taiwan? Does Your Travel Insurance Cover Earthquakes?
With a melting pot of Chinese, Japanese, Western and indigenous influences, Taiwan is a top holiday destination among Malaysians. We naturally gravitate towards food and Taiwan serves up plenty of ‘small eats’ to keep our appetites sated. Furthermore, Taiwan’s night market culture is among the best in Asia and it’s easy for us Malaysians to feel right at home.
A quick glance at Taiwan’s map reveals vast, rugged wilderness filled with rolling hills and roaring rivers that will appeal to nature lovers everywhere. Nonetheless, the beautiful island also has a history of recurring earthquakes, most recently the deadly Tainan earthquake back in 2016 and today’s 6.4-magnitude disaster in Hualien City.
Located on the western side of the horseshoe-shaped Circum-Pacific seismic zone (also known as the Pacific Ring of Fire), Taiwan along with neighbours such as Japan and the Philippines are especially vulnerable to earthquakes. Along with the eastern end of the horseshoe which cuts across a significant swath of the Americas, this seismic zone accounts for 90% of the world’s earthquakes.
Is it safe to travel to Taiwan?
The Taiwanese population have long learned to live with earthquakes, even associating the tremors with various legends and mythology. Over time and with the adoption of modern technology, the earthquake-prone nation has ensured that sophisticated rescue systems, post-disaster urban planning, and coping skills became an essential part of the country’s response to such disasters.
Malaysians on the other hand, are less exposed to such risks as we are safely located away from this high-risk zone. Knowledge and preparation is key, while having a comprehensive travel insurance which provides coverage for natural disasters can be a safety blanket during times of potential uncertainty or worse, chaos.
Hualien County is located on the east coast of Taiwan whereas the severe earthquake which struck Tainan eerily on the exact day in 2016 – also on a magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter scale – was localised in south Taiwan. Both incidents, not to mention previous natural disasters, serves to reinforce Taiwan’s vulnerability and unpredictability when bracing for earthquakes.
Bear in mind that Taipei city alongside other popular destinations such as Tainan City remains safe and there are no travel alerts issued for travellers heading there.
So…should you continue with your Taiwan trip?
GoBear loves a good holiday and completely understands how you feel if faced with such a do-or-don’t dilemma. While we are not in a position to decide if your trip should get the green light, decide if the risks (and rewards) are worth it.
One of the potential disruptions you may face is flight delays or cancellations, resulting in additional costs being incurred on your initial travel itinerary. Not only will this affect the detailed fun plan you had lined up but even leaving you stranded for longer periods if airport services are affected.
At time of writing, two airlines have issued travel waivers United Airlines for flights heading into Taipei whereas Cathay Pacific have also included Kaohsiung and Taichung.
That’s why it’s crucial that you and your travelling companions (you’re not going to leave them behind, are you?) purchase a solid travel insurance plan that will provide some form of coverage and compensation for all the tricky inconveniences you might face.
How travel insurance can benefit a Taiwan vacation
Depending on the travel insurance plan you signed up for, you may be entitled to several benefits due to the disruptions faced during your Taiwanese sojourn.
Flight interruption is a typical example. Many travel insurance plans will compensate you for cancelled or delayed flights, with the claim available to you based on the number of hours you were affected.
If you had engaged a car rental service in Taiwan only to see your plans dashed because of complications arising from the earthquake, you may be able to file a claim as well.
But most of all, if your trip was cancelled altogether due to circumstances outside of your control – and yes, an earthquake counts – then your travel insurance can step in to cover expended costs such as upfront hotel deposits, flight tickets and more.
In short, many travel insurance policies will cover earthquakes under benefits for natural disasters.
Check out these three fantastic travel insurance plans for peace of mind:
AIG Travel Guard
AIG Travel Insurance is on a mission to ‘jaga’ your travel experiences. In the unfortunate event of natural disasters, AIG will pay for travel inconvenience-related expenses related to earthquakes, floods and volcano eruptions in Taiwan. You can even get up to RM10 million for overseas medical expenses and up to RM300,000 for personal accidents depending on the plan you choose.
Tune Protect Travel Easy Worldwide
With very competitive travel insurance rates, Tune Protect offers a host of advantages to savvy travellers regardless of whether you’re flying to Taiwan or anywhere else. Coverage for damaged or lost baggages, flight delays and missed connections are a given, and there is a maximum coverage of RM1 million.
AXA SmartTraveller VIP
Another giant in the local travel insurance scene, AXA’s SmartTraveller VIP provides a host of benefits that will take away any worries you might have. In the very unfortunate event that you end up being a victim of the earthquake, the sum insured under AXA’s emergency medical evacuation and repatriation benefits are unlimited, ensuring that your safety and well-being is well taken care of.
Important things to note:
- Understand the level of coverage of your travel insurance and make sure you know what you’re entitled to; if in doubt, speak to your travel insurer
- Keep in mind that travel insurance policies that do cover earthquakes will only provide coverage if the plan was purchased before the trip and before the earthquake strikes
- Travelling against warning and ‘known events’ may affect your policy coverage or even the ability to purchase travel insurance
- Aftershocks are common, so get a clear answer on whether it is covered under your policy
- Evaluate and get familiar with the benefits that will come into play should a natural disaster strike – better safe than sorry!
Have a safe and happy holiday!