A Guide to Buying Travel Insurance
Singaporeans love to travel, either to explore or simply to get away. And while you’d rather not think about the nasty things that could happen on vacation, having travel insurance means that you’ve got your back covered financially if something does go wrong. The good news is, travel insurance doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you do your homework and think through your needs carefully.
Why buy travel insurance?
There are a many compelling reasons to buy travel insurance, one of which is the healthcare and emergency coverage. You may be taken aback by how costly healthcare can be in certain countries (e.g. USA), and in the event that you need a surgery, the costs of hospitalisation and operations could easily rake up to thousands of dollars. Travel insurance companies in Singapore cover medical expenses, emergency evacuations, and provide hospitalisation allowances.
Another key reason to get travel insurance is to help cover your losses if you happen to be an unfortunate victim of crime. Depending on where you travel to, street crime can be very common. If you are travelling with your smartphone, laptop, or camera, you are a natural favourite of pickpockets and it does pay to have insurance cover a large portion of what you may lose. Note that there is a limit per article (e.g. S$500) and most companies provide a higher limit for laptops and electronic devices, typically up to S$1,000.
Finally, there is also the coverage on travel cancellations due to circumstances that are out of your control. For example, cases where you have a serious illness or injury before the trip and have to cancel it, or if there was a natural disaster or strikes and riots that prevent you from travelling. Insurance companies also compensate for more common reasons such as flight cancellations, and baggage that was lost or delayed beyond a certain number of hours, usually six.
Types of coverage: how do I decide?
Consider the geographical area, duration, and frequency of your trips. If you are travelling for business, first check that your company provides travel insurance. Most of the travel credit cards nowadays don’t only rewards you on travel perks like air miles or rewards points but also bundled with travel insurance. For example, the American Express KrisFlyer Gold Card comes with decent travel insurance coverage up to S$350,000, which you may find sufficient for your needs.
You can choose to buy insurance for travel to a specific country, or a region. These regions are categorised by ASEAN, Asia, or Worldwide. Do not assume that Worldwide means coverage for any country outside of Singapore, as some providers exclude countries such as Iran and Afghanistan. Similarly, if you are travelling to Mongolia and Tibet, do not assume that the provider classifies them in Asia.
The greater the geographical coverage, the higher the premium, so if you are sure that your travels are limited to a specific region like Asia, selecting that will help you avoid paying unnecessarily high premiums.
Single trip Vs Annual Multi-trip
A single trip plan covers you from the day you leave Singapore, up to a maximum of six months. An annual multi-trip policy covers you for an entire year, but each trip should last for a maximum of 90 days.
This means that if you’re travelling out of Singapore for more than six months, you would have to source for an international provider (e.g. World Nomads) that covers you for a year, and that allows you to extend your policy.
How much coverage?
How much you want to be covered really depends on the nature of your trip and what you are comfortable with. You could choose to pay a higher premium for travel insurance that covers your overseas medical expenses up to S$2 million, and even your golfing equipment and jewellery. Or, choose a lower premium because you know you will be travelling light with minimal valuables.
If you intend to take part in adventure sports like mountaineering or skiing, do note that certain providers do not cover your losses while participating in these activities. Read the policy very carefully, or consult your agent.
What to take note of
Now that you have decided on a travel insurance policy, here are some additional tips to make your claiming process a much smoother one:
- Before your trip, scan the receipts of all items that you are carrying with you, especially the pricier ones. Keep them in your cloud or portable drive so that you can readily access them wherever you are. Claims without receipts usually take a longer time to be processed.
- If you had been a victim of a crime, make a police report within 24 hours, or as soon as possible.
- If there has been a baggage delay, obtain a Property Irregularity Report from the airline at the airport, as you would need it to file your claim. A written report is also required if you had experienced a travel delay.
Also, be sure of your motivations too. As an improper one might lead to rejection of your claims.
It pays off to do your research, especially so since some credit cards do not offer travel insurance anyway. It is a once-off expense (from as low as S$20 for a short trip to a neighbouring country) which doesn’t require a long-term commitment; and the one thing that you hope never to use, but will come in extremely useful in the event that you do.
Good luck and happy holidays (soon)!