Every traveller worth their salt knows that the key to a good vacation is to make sure that you have checked everything off of your travel checklist.
Flight tickets? Check.
Travel insurance? *Dead silence*.
It’s quite funny that something as important as travel insurance is usually never on anyone’s checklist. And quite honestly, if a worry-free holiday is what you are looking for, then it should be. With travel insurance, rest assured you will be protected in case you fall ill while vacationing, miss your connecting flight, or even if the airline loses your luggage.
Safe to say, that it is something you should consider getting before your holiday.
Now that we have convinced you to apply for travel insurance, the next logical question is which travel insurance do you choose? With numerous travel insurance options available for you and your family, how do you pick the right one?
Well, we’re here to tell you how.
1. What are you insuring and who are you insuring?
This is an important question to ask yourself before you start comparing travel insurance policies since it will determine the type of policy you end up buying.
Here’s what you need to consider:
- Travel location: The amount you end up paying for your policy depends on the region to which you are travelling. Keep in mind, though, that if you are travelling to countries where there is an ongoing civil strife or war, you may not find a travel insurance policy that gives you adequate (or any) protection.
- The length of the trip: Ensure that your trip does not exceed the maximum number of days as specified in the policy. Some policies, for instance, provide coverage for a maximum of 180 days.
- Mode of transport: All travel insurance policies provide travel-related coverage such as compensation for loss of baggage or compensating you for a cancelled flight. However, if you plan to use public transport while you are vacationing or are looking to rent a car, make sure that your policy has the required coverage for those modes of transport as well.
- Travel companion: The extent of coverage that you will require if you are travelling alone will differ from the coverage amount you will require if you travel with your family or in a group.
- Activities: Will you be skiing? Then you need a policy that covers skiing accidents. If you are planning to scuba dive or indulge in adventure sports, then you may need a rider to supplement your basic policy.
- Medical coverage: A good travel insurance policy should provide adequate coverage for medical emergencies when you are travelling. Some will even provide medical assistance while in Singapore. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, then you should consider a policy that covers these conditions. But more on this later.
2. Decide the type of cover
In general, there are two types of covers you can choose from.
Single trip cover: A single trip plan as the name suggests is for a single trip or a single holiday. Single trip policies are available for individuals and families.
Annual trip cover: An annual trip plan offers the same coverage as single trip plans and you should get one if you plan to travel multiple times in a year. This is also perfect for frequent flyers. So, if the airport is your second home, you should consider buying an annual trip cover.
Here’s a handy table to help you make this decision:
|Single Trip Cover||Annual Trip Cover|
|More than 1 trip a year||✓||✓|
|Since the coverage and benefits of both policies are similar, you need to see which works out cheaper. Most of the time, purchasing multiple single trip policies may prove to be more expensive than a single annual trip cover.|
|Trip is less than 90 days||✓|
|In general, the coverage provided is for up to 90 days per trip. Once you get back to Singapore, the coverage is reset and you get up to 90 days of protection while on your next trip.|
|Trip is between 91 days and 180 days||✓|
|Most of these policies cover you for up to 180 days and is perfect if you are planning a long vacation.|
|Travelling to multiple countries||✓|
|Instead of purchasing multiple single-trip policies for the various regions you are planning to visit, an annual trip policy with global coverage could be a better idea.|
|Short notice travel||✓|
|Since you may be in a hurry, there are chances that you may forget to purchase a single-trip plan. In such instances, having an annual plan always helps. This is a great idea especially if you travel frequently on business.|
3. Make a decision regarding family coverage
When you travel with your family, it would make sense to get a policy that protects the entire family.
If you do decide to get a family policy, do consider the following:
- If your children do not live with you full-time or if you share custody of your children, then there may be cases where your family policy will not provide coverage for your children. In such cases, look for family policies that will provide coverage for your kids.
- If your children are travelling separately or with someone who is not named in your policy then there are chances that they may not be covered under a family policy. This is why it is important to read the terms of the policy before you consider buying it.
- If you have more than 2 children, make sure that your policy covers them as well since most family policies for travel insurance provide coverage only for two adults and two children.
- Check if senior citizens travelling with you are provided coverage. Also, the cover for individuals above 70 years of age is always lower than those below the age of 70.
- If you are travelling with family while pregnant, check if this insurance provides pregnancy cover.
Some travel insurance policies with family cover that you can consider are:
|Policy Feature||Policy Name|
|Coverage for an unlimited number of children||NTUC Income Travel Insurance|
|Coverage for step children (below 18 years or below 25 years and studying in a recognised tertiary institution)||ePROTECT travel|
|Insured persons not required to travel together||ePROTECT travel|
|Home protection while your family is on holiday||OCBC Explorer|
|Coverage for senior citizens aged 70 years and above||Allianz Global Assistance Family Travel Insurance|
|Coverage for pregnant women (coverage kicks in post the first trimester)||TM Xplora|
Since family travel insurance policies do not provide coverage for relatives, you could consider a group package if you are travelling with others. For instance, Aviva Travel Insurance’s group package applies to a minimum of 6 people and a maximum of 19 people.
4. Check for cover for pre-existing medical conditions
While almost all travel insurance policies will provide coverage for medical emergencies while abroad, the cover kicks in only if a few conditions are met. One of these conditions being that your illness is not the result of a pre-existing medical condition. So, if you have a heart condition, chances are that your travel insurance policy will not cover any medical expenses that arise as a complication of this condition.
The good news, however, is that there are policies that provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a travel insurance policy if you have previously been diagnosed with an illness. It just means that if you are on a holiday and happen to fall sick, you will not be able to make a claim if a pre-existing medical condition is the reason behind you falling sick.
A few common medical conditions that are classified as pre-existing medical conditions are:
- Heart conditions
- High blood pressure
Thankfully, there are insurance providers in Singapore who provide travel insurance coverage for any illness that may be the result of a pre-existing medical condition. For example, MSIG’s TravelEasy Pre-Ex provides coverage for all pre-existing medical conditions including heart conditions and cancer. Similarly, other travel insurance providers such as NTUC also have policies that provide pre-existing medical condition coverage.
5. Take a closer look at the exclusions
We cannot stress how important it is to read the policy wording in detail before you decide to buy it. Most people look at the advertised material or the brochure and decide to purchase their travel insurance policy. And while that may work out 9 times out of 10, why take the risk?
When you run a fine tooth comb through the terms and conditions that govern your policy you will realise that maybe the policy you are considering isn’t the one for you. For instance, let’s say that on your holiday to the Bahamas you are planning to go scuba diving or you plan to go to Japan to test the ski slopes during winter. Most travel insurance policies do not provide coverage for what they term as ‘adventure sports’. And guess what? Both these activities are bundled under this heading.
In fact, every benefit that you receive is subject to exclusions. Now, if you don’t seem to have the time to do a thorough reading, a good idea would be to get an electronic copy of the brochure and policy wording. Then, all you need to do is look for the word ‘exclusion’ and just skim through the exclusions applicable to each section.
This is by no means a foolproof method, but it is better than not going through the fine print at all.
6. Ease of making a claim
Ultimately, a good travel insurance policy is one that not only lets you have a hassle-free trip but also ensures that you can make a hassle-free claim with your insurance provider.
All providers will promise round-the-clock assistance, but a good rule of thumb is to make sure that you go with a provider who will allow you to upload necessary documents and make a claim online. This way you can start the claim process no matter where in the world you are instead of having to return to Singapore before you start the claim process.
Also, look for companies that provide you with a timeframe upfront for settling claims or responding to your claim application.
You may not think this is important while purchasing the policy, but you will thank us when you do end up making a claim.
To summarise, here are the features of a good travel insurance policy:
It must cover:
- Personal accident
- Accidental death
- Medical expenses – both abroad and in Singapore
- Emergency evacuation
- Repatriation of mortal remains
- Compassionate visit
- Cancelled fight
- Missed connection
- Flight delay
- Baggage delay
- Loss of baggage
- Loss of passport
- Personal liability
It should ideally provide:
- Replacement of money in case of emergencies
- Terrorism cover
It could cover:
- Insolvency of the travel agency
- Rental car excess
- Loss of miles and points from a trip cancellation
- My VoyageGuard Travel Insurance Policy is one of the few policies that provides coverage for loss of miles and points if the reason for your trip being cancelled is covered by the policy.
When should you choose credit card travel insurance?
If you have a miles credit card, you probably are aware that complimentary travel insurance is one of the benefits that comes with your card.
Even though the policy coverage is high (up to S$1 million for example), credit card travel insurance policies provide basic coverage at best. Which doesn’t mean they aren’t good. You could make use of this if you need to travel a short distance.
However, if comprehensive coverage is what you are looking for, then a stand-alone insurance policy makes the most sense. Especially, if you are looking for family cover. This is because, although a credit card travel insurance policy could offer coverage not only for the cardholder but also their spouse and children, this extended cover, in most cases, is only for personal accident and medical expenses. Travel inconvenience cover such as flight delay/cancellation, baggage delay/loss, etc. is only extended to the cardholder and not their family.
As you can see, there are quite a few things you need to consider before picking the right travel insurance. But if you follow the steps we have outlined, picking a travel insurance policy that suits your needs and that of your family will be a piece of cake!
So, the next time you decide to take a little trip and are running through your checklist, make sure that travel insurance isn’t met with silence!
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