Travel insurance can seem like a truly mind-boggling concept. Travellers often make assumptions about their insurance coverage - what’s covered, what’s not, where you’re covered and for how long. To make your lives easier, we compiled a list of the questions most commonly asked by travelers.
- Can I buy travel insurance when I’m already abroad?
- Am I covered by travel insurance if I’m under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
- Can I buy travel insurance for my friend or relative?
- Can I cancel my travel insurance?
- Can I extend my travel insurance while overseas?
- My health has changed since I bought the policy, do I have to let my insurer know?
- Does my policy cover dental treatment while overseas?
- Am I covered if I see a Chinese medical practitioner or chiropractor?
- What if someone in my family becomes seriously ill and I’m forced to shorten the trip?
- If I cannot board because my flight is overbooked, am I covered?
- Does my travel insurance cover me in a country that MFA has advised against travelling to?
1. Can I buy travel insurance when I am already abroad?
Most insurers, including AXA, won’t sell you a policy once your trip has begun (this is called post-departure coverage). Among those that do, you’ll usually be charged higher premiums.
Most importantly, note that there’s usually a three-day waiting period before coverage begins, for post-departure policies. So if your trip is only going to last another three days, there’s no real point buying a policy anymore.
If you’re already abroad, you can check as a last resort if the credit card you used for your travel expenses provides any coverage.
2. Am I covered by travel insurance if I’m under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
The simple answer is no: your insurer isn’t obliged to pay out if you’re hurt while drunk or on drugs.
But there are cases which are not clear cut. For example, you have a few beers and then get hit by a car when crossing the road. In such situations, the insurer will investigate to see if alcohol was the root cause of the accident.
If you were drunk and ignored the honking car, for example, it could be considered your fault. But if it’s determined that you crossed the road safely and the driver was speeding, you might still receive a pay-out despite the alcohol factor.
But it’s safest not to count on this and avoid drinking binges while abroad.
3. Can I buy travel insurance for my friend or relative?
Yes, you can buy travel insurance on behalf of a friend or relative.
Do note while buying group insurance that any pay-outs from their insurance claims go to them and not to you (even if you paid for the policy) - unless they are children.
4. Can I cancel my travel insurance?
This varies slightly between insurers. Most Singapore-based insurers allow you to cancel at any time, but will charge an administration fee. Some insurers allow you to cancel only during a certain time period (e.g. 14 days before departure). For annual insurance, the refund is usually a pro-rated amount; you’ll have to call your insurer to ask for the numbers.
As for AXA SmartTraveller, you may cancel the policy at any time by giving seven days’ written notice, provided no claim has been paid during the current period of insurance. In the event of such cancellation, AXA will apply a premium refund as follows:-
Single Trip Policy
- Full refund provided the amount to be refunded is at least $25 and no claim has been paid prior to the cancellation of the policy. There will be no refund for cancellation after the period of insurance has commenced.
- Short rate refund corresponding to the unexpired period of insurance, provided the amount to be refunded is at least $25 and no claim has been paid prior to the cancellation of the policy (refer to policy wordings for details).
5. Can I extend my travel insurance while overseas?
This varies based on the insurer. Some flat out disallow this, whilst others will allow you to extend the policy at a higher premium. One of the main factors is whether the extension is your fault.
AXA SmartTraveller is automatically extended without additional premium for up to 30 days if you are hospitalised while overseas – or up to 72 hours if you are unable to complete your trip as planned due to public transport delays that are not your fault.
6. My health has changed since I bought the policy, do I have to let my insurer know?
If your health worsens in a way that should prevent you from travelling but you travel anyway, your insurer can deny your claims later.
For example, say you get badly ill two days before your cruise, and your doctor warns you not to go. You ignore the advice and get on the ship anyway. Later, if you need to be medically evacuated and your insurer finds out, your claim might be denied.
It’s best to be honest and update your insurer to prevent rejected claims later.
7. Does my policy cover dental treatment while overseas?
Yes, but this doesn’t include treatment like teeth whitening or cleaning.
When a policy says “dental treatment”, it refers purely to dentistry arising from accidents. For example, if you lose a whole row of teeth in a car accident, you’ll need emergency dental services. This type of treatment would be covered.
Note that simple extractions are usually not covered, even if you have a major toothache.
8. Am I covered if I see a Chinese medical practitioner or chiropractor?
Some insurers, including AXA, have provisions for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or chiropractors. However, the practitioner must be licensed in his or her country of practice.
The practitioner also cannot be yourself, your relative, your travel companion, your business partner, or your immediate family member.
9. What if someone in my family becomes seriously ill and I’m forced to shorten the trip?
When you have to unavoidably curtail (shorten) your trip to return to Singapore or alter the itinerary of the trip after it has started due to a death, serious injury or serious illness occurring to you, a family member or travel companion, you will be covered.
10. If I cannot board because my flight is overbooked, am I covered?
Yes, you can make a claim when you are denied boarding the scheduled flight due to overbooking of the flight, and cannot get an alternative transportation which departs within four hours of the original scheduled time.
You can also do this for travel diversions, or missed connections that are not your fault (e.g. the plane landed late, causing you to miss the connecting flight).
11. Does my travel insurance cover me in a country that MFA has advised against travelling to?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has two different warning levels.
For some countries, the travel advisory is to “Take Extra Precautions”. These are generally tagged with the colour yellow. Most insurers will still cover you at these destinations.
For some countries, the advisory is “Do Not Travel Unless Necessary”. These are usually tagged with the colour red.
With AXA travel insurance, you will get a payout if you have to unavoidably postpone or cancel any part of your trip within 30 days before the trip, or if you have to unavoidably curtail your trip to return to Singapore, due to an advisory from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to defer non-essential travel to the planned destination.
Still have questions? Read our ultimate guide to travel insurance to find out more.