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Home > Blog > insurance-guide > The Ultimate Guide to Travel Insurance in Singapore

The Ultimate Guide to Travel Insurance in Singapore

06 Sep 20186 Mins Read

Travel insurance is important because, let’s face it…life doesn’t always go according to plan.

Nothing puts a damper on a long-anticipated trip like having your flight cancelled due to a volcanic eruption (yes, this is a regular occurrence now), getting your passport stolen or needing medical attention miles away from home. It can range from minor inconveniences like baggage delays to extreme scenarios like a terrorist attack at your holiday destination…the possibilities are endless!

Which is why buying travel insurance is highly recommended. But with the myriad of options available (and overload of information on travel insurance, ironic as it may be) how many of us actually know how to pick a good travel plan that’s suitable for our needs?

Not many. To help you decide, we put together some information on how travel insurance works in Singapore. You can thank us later.

  • What are the different types of travel insurance?
  • What does travel insurance cover?
  • Where can you buy travel insurance?
  • What kind of traveller are you?
  • Pick the right travel insurance plan for your needs

Couple travelling the world

Let’s start with the basics: What are the different types of travel insurance?

Single Trip Plan

A policy that covers a traveller for a single trip, usually starting from and returning to Singapore. This is ideal for those who are not planning to travel frequently in a year.

Annual Multi-Trip Plan

Annual travel insurance has a flat premium and covers you for an unlimited number of trips a year, commencing from and ending in Singapore. It typically costs a few hundred dollars, so only buy it if you plan to travel at least four times a year. You can make unlimited trips to the selected travel zone, regional or global, so long as each trip does not exceed 92 days. Not only do you save money, you also save time buying insurance each time you fly. You can make claims for each trip separately but within 30 days of the incident.

Individual Plan

It covers just you or just one other person i.e. you can buy the plan for some else (your partner, family member, child, etc.)

Family Plan

Family travel insurance plans are aimed at families travelling together. Age limits (for children and the elderly) and other restrictions vary from insurer to insurer, so do check the policy wordings. Buying an individual policy for each member of the family can be expensive, and time and effort consuming – doesn’t it make much more sense to get one policy that will cover the whole family?

Group Plan

If you are traveling in a group of two or more, it’s way more practical to purchase a group travel insurance plan. This provides almost the same benefits as offered in individual plans, yet at lower cost thanks to popular group discounts. Large groups, for example, corporations, can customise annual plans based on their specific needs and nature of trip.

Specialty Travel Insurance

Bet you didn’t know that you can buy specialty travel insurance for specific and often niche purposes? Basically, you pay for only what you need and nothing more.

Senior Travel Insurance, for example, is tailored for seniors aged 60, 65 or 70. Insurance for pre-existing medical conditions is a must-have if you already have a medical condition before or while starting your trip, some common conditions being heart conditions, cancer, asthma and diabetes. Having a good Rental Vehicle Excess Cover will limit or completely remove the amount of excess payable to the car rental company in case you have an accident driving abroad. It’s also cheaper to buy as part of your travel insurance plan, rather than from the car rental.  

World travelers now have the option to Pay Day-by-Day for travel insurance with a new product from Revolut. With geolocation technology pinpointing your exact location in the world, Revolut automatically provides travel insurance for each day that you are abroad and disables your coverage upon return.

Do note that some of these specialised travel insurance plans are offered by insurers outside Singapore, and provide coverage for specific countries or regions. Most insurers also have a list of nations they don’t cover. This may include North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Syria or other countries considered high-risk.

Pack your travel belongings to maximize space

So what does travel insurance cover?

A good travel insurance policy covers you for a range of scenarios, from minor inconveniences to real life emergencies. Typically, travel plans provide the following:

Travel Inconvenience Coverage

Travel inconvenience coverage covers disruptions to your travel plans, such as trip cancellation and curtailment, personal property and baggage damage, personal liability and more. If you’re flying somewhere like Indonesia which is prone to extreme weather or even natural disasters, this is particularly handy as you can be reimbursed for the loss of travel and accommodation expenses paid in advance.

Personal Accident Coverage

Most travel plans offer a standard list of personal accident coverage which include accidental death and permanent disablement, public transport double cover or indemnity, and child education funds.

Medical Coverage

Medical coverage is another primary feature of travel insurance, which covers medical expenses incurred from getting injured or ill during the trip, while you’re overseas and often after you’re returned to Singapore.  

Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation

Emergency evacuation coverage provides benefits if you suffer a medical emergency and require transportation to a hospital or other medical facility, or back to your primary residence. Repatriation coverage means that the insurer will arrange and handle the necessary transportation in the event a person passes away from an illness or injury abroad.

Luggage and Other Belongings

Baggage coverage can reimburse you if your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged – including reimbursement for the purchase of essential items until your delayed bags arrive, such as toiletries or a change of clothes. When you go to a foreign land, you may become a target for pick-pockets and people with less-than-good intentions. Travel insurance also often covers loss of belongings including passport, travel documents and gadgets.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions

A pre-existing condition is one that you already had before or while starting your trip, as mentioned above. For example, an asthma condition you've had since young. Insurance for pre-existing conditions typically include hospitalisation charges, medical evacuation and emergency phone charges.

Most travel insurance plans offer optional coverage which you can add on, including but not limited to:

Car Rental Excess

This is important if you are planning a self-drive trip abroad. The rented vehicle is usually protected and insured by the rental agency with a motor vehicle insurance in their country, however, such insurance may include an excess which is payable by the person renting the vehicle. This excess, or deductible, is payable should the person renting get into an accident. With rental vehicle excess insurance cover, your insurer will pay for the excess required for the claim.

Leisure Sports Cover

Fancy swimming with the sharks at Tioman or jumping out of a plan in New Zealand? Do note that extreme sports and activities are mostly excluded from travel insurance plans unless otherwise stated in the policy wording. Double-check that your plan covers leisure amateur sports such as bungee jumping, parachuting, skydiving, scuba diving, etc.

Closure of Travel Agency

For those who prefer to get a travel agency to do all the planning, it is essential to ensure your travel policy covers the possible financial collapse of the travel agency – in which case, you’d be reimbursed for the loss of pre-travel costs incurred. Scrutinise the fine print for conditions on the type of travel agencies covered under this benefit.

Terrorism Cover

By terrorism cover, most insurers mean that they include terrorist acts as valid reasons to file a claim for losses under already-existing categories within their travel insurance policies. These typically include medical expenses cover, personal accident/death benefit, emergency medical services or evacuation cover, and/or trip cancellation cover.

Accommodation Cancellation

This covers accommodation expenses that are forfeited due to specified causes under ‘travel delay’.  

Depending on your needs, you can add on various other benefits ranging from golf equipment cover, sports equipment cover, pet care and safety (hijacking, kidnap and hostage).

Family travel insurance plan

Where can you buy all these wonderful travel insurance plans?

Online Directly from Insurance Companies

Reputable local insurance companies such as AIG, Allianz, Aviva, AXA, Etiqa, FWD, Great Eastern, MSIG, NTUC Income, Sompo, etc. typically offer at least two or three types of travel insurance plans that you can purchase for single or annual trips within a specified timeframe, with varying benefits to suit your needs.

Online Aggregators

By drawing detailed comparisons between various policies, online insurance aggregators allow customers to compare multiple policies at one go, on the basis of aggregated factors such as benefits provided, premiums, term and others. Once you’ve picked the plan of your choice, you have to purchase it directly from the insurance company. Check out GoBear, iMoney Singapore, MoneySmart, Seedly or ValuePenguin if you’re looking for high-level comparisons.

General Insurance Agents

General insurance agents are authorised to sell you products from at least four different insurers. The most qualified ones have the entire market’s offerings (and knowledge) at their fingertips and can share well-rounded, strategic financial advice to help you select or customise a product that’s just right for your needs.  

Insurance Brokers

Insurance brokers are insurance experts who often specialise in certain fields. They act on behalf of the buyer, and while their job is to pair you with the insurer who’s right for you and work with you to manage a claim, the responsibility for the risk associated with your policy remains with the insurer. If you have a complex or niche requirements for your travel plan, you can reach out to an insurance broker with the relevant expertise, for example, Times Insurance Brokers Pte Ltd.

Credit Cards

Some credit cards come with free travel insurance, giving you the flexibility to enjoy your trip while getting you protection without the cost of buying insurance outright. All you have to do is to charge the full cost of your tickets or travel package to the card, to qualify. Depending on the card (HSBC, ANZ, Citibank, OCBC, DBS or American Express for example), there will be different eligibility requirements and complimentary benefits on offer.

You can also buy travel insurance through various intermediaries such as:

Travel Agents

Some people buy insurance cover as part of their tour packages through the travel agency, which allows them to request for explanations on the policy coverage and seek clarification when in doubt. Travel agencies, such as Chan Brothers, CTC Travel or Dynasty Travels to name a few, can only sell travel insurance if they are certified as Trade Specific Agents (TSA) by the Agents’ Registration Board of the GIA.

Banks

Offerings of insurance plans by major banks have expanded, partially boosted by tie-ups between banks and insurers to sell insurance through banking channels, also known as bancassurance. Popular banks to buy travel insurance from include OCBC, HSBC, DBS, Citibank, UOB and Maybank.

Airlines

If you've bought air tickets from an airline web site or web, you've probably been offered the option of adding travel insurance to your flight booking. Coverage varies by country of departure, destination and the airline itself, be it Scoot, Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, JetStar Asia Airways or Air Asia.

Travel solo and explore nature

Now…what kind of traveller are you?

A traveller’s lifestyle and activities play a major part in deciding which travel insurance is just right for them. Some common types include:

Solo Travellers

Solo travellers embark on a journey alone. Some go for an entirely independent trip, planning every last detail (flight, accomodation, itinerary) on their own, some opt to buy private tour packages through agencies which eliminates the hassle of planning, and others join travel groups, such as G Adventures, to share experiences with other world travellers.

Family Travellers 

These are travellers who explore different destinations as a family, with group members of different ages, medical needs and leisure activity preferences. They typically choose the most reliable insurance plan available with the most comprehensive benefits, to cater to a variety of individual needs.  

Long-Term Travellers

These travel warriors plan long-term trips, often three to six months, and hop from one destination to another, often with the intention of truly exploring and experiencing the way of life in a region of their choice.

Thrill Seekers 

Thrill seekers look for fun, adventure and beyond-the-ordinary experiences when they travel. These adrenaline junkies enjoy stepping out of their comfort zone, trying new activities and challenging themselves, whether its white-water rafting in Bali, trekking Mount Everest or skiing in the Alps.

Business Travellers 

Business travellers travel for work, with expenses paid by their company e.g. for corporate meetings or events like trainings and seminars. Likewise, there are entrepreneurs and small business owners who travel for work but at their own expenses.

Students

They are enrolled in educational institutes overseas for the purpose of higher education, and typically hold non-resident visa status, usually called a student visa. They often fly back to their home country or travel around / near their country of study, during term breaks.

Different types of travellers at airport

Finally, how do you pick the right travel plan for your needs?

Here are some factors to consider…

Travel Inconvenience Coverage

This is always useful, but more so if you’re headed somewhere like Japan, Borneo or Nepal that’s prone to natural disasters. Check that these aren’t excluded in case you need to cancel, postpone or curtail your trip.

Medical Expenses, Evacuation and Repatriation

Higher medical expenses coverage is a must have for travel to countries such as Japan, the US and Europe where medical treatment costs are significantly higher. Treatment overseas may cost 10 times more to gain access to better medical facilities and internationally qualified medical personnel. In any event, do check that the policy provides sufficient medical evacuation or repatriation coverage to transport you back home or to a hospital better equipped to render the treatment.

If healthcare isn’t great in your travel destination, make sure your evacuation limit is at least $1million. This applies especially if you’re going to remote areas, such as hiking in the Himalayas or the Andes, and happen to fall sick or injured. The emergency assistance team are the experts who can arrange your helicopter evacuation using a reputable helicopter company.

Pre-existing Medical Conditions

These are typically not covered in travel plans and if travellers without this cover require treatment overseas, the costs are usually steep. Examples include common ailments such as hypertension, asthma, high cholesterol and eczema.

Terror Threats

Political and social instability has led to terror threats worldwide. For example, Bangkok faced explosions in April and May 2017, not to mention the multiple incidents in tourist areas across Thailand in August 2016. We recommend you look for plans that offer full terrorism cover that includes chemical, nuclear and biological terrorism – and of course, watch out for travel advisories from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) too.

Adventure Sports

If you’re planning adventurous or dangerous activities, such as bungee jumping, caving or mountain climbing, it’s crucial to ensure that your travel insurance covers such activities.

Persons Travelling with You

This is important especially if you’re travelling with a large group of family. Double-check that the plan covers certain categories of people - senior citizens, young children or pregnant women - if they are travelling with you. Some insurers do not provide emergency-assistance cover for people above 75, for instance.

Value of Your Belongings and Overall Trip

If you have valuable goods in your baggage or have purchased expensive business plane tickets, premium insurance plans may be more fitting as you can be reimbursed commensurately to the value you could potentially lose. On the other hand, some find more value in basic or economy plans that are cheaper but provide enough benefits to cover their costs. A typical premium plan can cost 60% more than a basic plans, but will provide 200-300% more in coverage benefits.

The best time to buy insurance is as soon as you’ve booked your trip! This will allow you to truly maximise the coverage you can get from the policy. For example, if you haven’t bought a policy yet and an earthquake hits Japan a week before your trip, not only do you miss out on those gorgeous autumn leaves at Mount Fuji - you also don’t get to claim anything. The same goes for other unexpected situations such as facing a family emergency before your trip or having your travel agency close down due to a financial crisis.

If you want to know our answers to some of the top questions on travel insurance, give this article a read.

We don’t mean to brag but..

AXA Wanderlust offers above-market coverage limits for medical expenses, personal accidents, trip cancellations and loss or damage to your possessions.

For the adventure-lovers out there, we’ve got you covered if you’re planning to go scuba-diving, mountaineering, skiing and marathons, among other recreational activities organised by licensed operators.

Lastly, we have a 24-hour in-house emergency response team and provide coverage on emergency medical evacuation - so you know we’ve got your back should you face the worst while away from home.

Enjoy exciting promotions on AXA Wanderlust while they last.

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