When it comes to offering the cheapest travel insurance in Singapore, the fight to the bottom continues… and Direct Asia travel insurance is but one of many “no brand” insurers trying to get you to buy from them.
The premise of Direct Asia is that they sell you insurance benefits “directly” so you’re not paying anything extra.
Personally, I hate paying a premium for essentially the same product, which is why I shop at ValuDollar rather than at NTUC. But if I’ve learnt one thing from shopping at ValuDollar, it’s that you need to read the product label to find out what you’re really buying.
So, is Direct Asia travel insurance worth considering for your next trip? Let’s check them out.
Direct Asia travel insurance at a glance
Direct Asia travel insurance comes in 3 unimaginatively-named flavours: DA150, DA200 and DA500. (Presumably the numbers indicate the amount of medical coverage you get.)
Here’s a brief comparison of the 3 plans:
|Travel insurance plan||DirectAsia DA150||DirectAsia DA200||DirectAsia DA500|
|Price for 1 week (ASEAN)||$38.50||$43.75||$59.50|
|Price for 1 week (Asia)||$45.50||$50.75||$75.25|
|Price for 1 week (worldwide)||$74.90||$80.25||$99.87|
|Promotion||Currently 40% off single trip plans|
|Medical expenses (overseas)||$150,000||$200,000||$500,000|
|Emergency medical evacuation||$1,500,000||$1,500,000||$1,500,000|
|Personal accident (death & TPD)||$100,000||$300,000||$500,000|
|Travel delay ($100 every 6 hours)||$1,000||$1,000||$1,500|
|Baggage delay ($200 every 6 hours)||$1,000||$1,000||$1,000|
|Adventure activities covered?||Only if you add on Extreme Sports and Activities cover|
Direct Asia COVID-19 add-on
|Price for 1 week (ASEAN)||$18.5o|
|Price for 1 week (Asia)||$27.90|
|Price for 1 week (worldwide)||$43.20|
|Cancelling your trip||$3,000|
|Postponing your trip||N.A.|
|Shortening your trip||N.A.|
|Medical expenses overseas||$150,000|
|Emergency medical evacuation and sending you home||$100,000|
|Overseas quarantine allowance||N.A.|
Direct Asia travel insurance promotion
Direct Asia has an ongoing promotion where you get 40% off all single trip plans, no questions asked and with no end date in sight.
That makes these plans very affordable indeed. A week’s coverage in ASEAN will cost $23.10 for DA150, which is on the reasonable side of things (usually it ranges from $20 to $25).
Upgrade to DA200 and you’ll pay $26.25, which is still relatively cheap. (Interestingly, both DA200 and DA500 are cheaper than many of its competitors’ 2nd and 3rd tier plans. However, the coverage doesn’t quite correspond. We’ll cover more on that later.)
What’s the coverage like for Direct Asia travel insurance?
DA150 offers overall adequate coverage all round, but it’s far from impressive. For example, the $150,000 limit on overseas medical expenses is a little low compared to FWD’s and NTUC Income’s basic plans which offer $200,000 and above.
If you’re thinking of upgrading to a better plan because I mentioned earlier that DA200 and DA500 are quite cheap… don’t be fooled! You can’t actually get First Class tickets at Economy prices.
When you look at the coverage, the most expensive DA500 is closer to a typical 2nd tier travel insurance plan. Which means DA200 is actually kind of an in-between product (Premium Economy?). It looks like a good deal, but it’s not really that value-for-money.
Direct Asia travel insurance does not automatically cover outdoor activities. You have to add on an Extreme Sports and Activities option to cover them. Here’s a summary of common holiday activities:
|Outdoor activity||Covered by Direct Asia?|
|Hot air balloon||Not stated|
|Scuba diving||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on|
|Skiing and other ice/snow sports||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on (including off-piste skiing as long as accompanied by guide)|
|Hiking or trekking||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on (up to 4,000m)|
|Mountaineering or outdoor rock climbing||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on|
|Marathons and other competitions||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on (including triathlons, obstacle races, cycling)|
|Jet skiing||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on|
|White water rafting||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on|
|Skydiving||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on|
|Paragliding, hang gliding or parachuting||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on|
|Bungee jumping||Yes with Extreme Sports add-on|
The Extreme Sports add-on also explicitly covers a number of unusual activities like martial arts, contact sports, off-piste skiing, mountain biking, go-karting, sand buggies and caving. For more info, read the Direct Asia policy document here.
The same applies to COVID-19 coverage. It’s an add-on that you’ll have to pay for on top of the travel plans. However, is the coverage even worth paying? The add-on coverage offers barely any coverage for travel inconveniences. Given that the add-on costs $18.50 for a week in ASEAN, the total cost of your insurance coverage with COVID-19 premium adds up to $41.60. While it’s one of the cheapest insurance plans in the market, you won’t be getting very much COVID-19 benefits.
Direct Asia travel insurance claim procedure
Emergency hotline: Call the DirectAsia emergency hotline at +65 6532 1818 (Singapore) or +65 6603 3699 (international)
Phone claims: Call +65 6532 1818 to start the claims process. You will be assigned to a personal Claims Specialist whom you can contact directly.
Things to note: Claims must be made within 30 days of your return to Singapore. Refer to Direct Asia’s travel claims page for what documents to submit for each type of claim.
According to them, 80% of their claims are settled within 24 hours. I can’t vouch for that as I’ve never claimed from them before. Apart from speed, they also focus on personalised service and responsiveness to make the whole claims experience a good one.
Be prepared to be quite meticulous about paperwork though. For example, you can claim for terrorist-related disruptions, but you may need documentation that your tour operator refused to refund you first.
Conclusion: should you buy Direct Asia travel insurance?
For regular Singaporeans going on holiday, Direct Asia is certain a cheap budget option with okay coverage.
It’s especially suitable for family holidays. The family plans cover up to 4 kids each, and children’s payable limits are the same as adults. There’s also an option to add on insurance for your helper if you want her to travel with your family.
If you have an niche interest like martial arts, go-karting or off-piste skiing, consider buying Direct Asia travel insurance and topping up for the Extreme Sports add-on. It is extremely hard to find another insurer that will cover these.
Also, if you’re vaccinated, healthy, young and on a budget, Direct Asia’s travel insurance will fit the bill. But remember, you get what you paid for.