Don’t forget your travel medical insurance

Coming to Sabah and climbing Mount Kinabalu sounds really fun, but what would you do when “worst case scenario” happen?

Are you insured for this event?
Photo by pearlworld

Lets say while travelling with a public transport from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park, you involved in an unfortunate event – a landslide happened a few kilometers away from Kinabalu Park entrance, and the bus that you take fall into a 30 feet ravine. The stretch from Tamparuli to Kinabalu Park is well known to have intermittent landslide, especially so during wet season.

The question here is: Are you well prepared for that event? We know that the risk of you getting into such position is very small, but what if you are one of the survivors?

For foreign tourist and travellers, the event can actually cost you a lot, unless you are prepared. It is an emergency situation, and you may need immediate medical care that could save your life.

Generally, what you need during the events are:

  1. Emergency ground and/or air ambulance. As most of the time in Malaysia, emergency medical services are operated by government body, you may have to use the resources that they have. Frankly speaking, ambulance services in Tamparuli-Kundasang-Ranau stretch are provided by Hospital Ranau, and the services can sometimes be dissappointing.
  2. Hospital in patient care and medication. Depending on the severity of your injury, intensive care management can be really expensive, especially if you are treated in a private hospital in Kota Kinabalu. It is not that government hospital is bad, you will get more attention in private center.
  3. Outpatient services for less serious emergencies. If you are lucky to survive the event with just a minor injuries, outpatient treatment can always be obtained from any clinic around, but Malaysian government may give you a special attention in the emergency department of the hospital.
  4. Doctor’s fee. Private practice and government medical center have a very different fee schedule. You may want to spend a bit more to get a better services from most of private center here.
  5. Emergency related travel expenses. If your injuries are severe, and need a special attention and treatment from more specialize center, you may have to fork out your own money for the travel related expenses. The most frequent example that I encounter is decompression sickness (for SCUBA divers). Patient have to pay for the transport and ferry to Labuan to get to the decompression chamber for treatment.

You may be fit and healthy before the climbing trip, but you may not be ready if thing goes wrong along the way.

You may need to consider having a travel medical insurance to ease the burden of these kind of travel medical expenses, especially so if you are travelling from abroad. Having medical problems and accidents outside your country can really be devastating, and most of the time will disrupt your travel plan.

I know that shopping for travel medical insurance can be really difficult, but just consider these few points before you sign on the dotted line:

  1. Try to compare various policies of the travel medical insurance packages available.
  2. Know the limits of your coverage for your medical emergencies and treatments.
  3. Make sure you know what are the definitions for important terms like pre-existing condition, medically necessary, stable and controlled condition, or re-occurring condition.
  4. Know the exclusion or exemption of the policies. *As climbing can be categorized risky activities, accidents or injuries during your climbing process may not be covered by the policy. Check with your insurance provider about the possibility of including it. Bare in mind that insurance provider could have a different clauses for the inclusion, and you may have to pay extra for it.
  5. You may want to consult a licensed insurance agent or broker about the types of travel health insurance products available to you.

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About drizad

A self employed General Practitioner who lives with his lovely family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He dedicates his spare time serving people with precious information on climbing the Majestic Mountain of the Borneo, Mt Kinabalu. Reachable at drizad(at)

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