When it comes to offering the cheapest travel insurance in Singapore, the fight to the bottom continues… and Direct Asia travel insurance is one of the more popular budget travel insurance providers that immediately comes to mind.
The premise of Direct Asia is that they sell you insurance benefits directly so you’re not paying anything extra.
If I’ve learnt one thing from going budget, it’s that you must read the product labels or descriptions to find out what you’re really paying for.
So, is Direct Asia travel insurance worth considering for your next holiday? Or should you still buy from the usual few AIG travel insurance, FWD travel insurance, AXA, and NTUC? Let’s check them out.
- Direct Asia Travel Insurance Summary
- Direct Asia Travel Insurance Covid Coverage
- Extreme Sports and Outdoor Adventure
- Direct Asia Travel Insurance Terms and Conditions
- Direct Asia Travel Insurance Claim Review
- Direct Asia vs FWD Travel Insurance
- Direct Asia Travel Insurance Promotion
- Direct Asia Travel Insurance Review
1. Direct Asia Travel Insurance: Summary
Before we even get into the travel insurance plans, we know what you’re thinking: Is Direct Asia safe? Yes.
We’ve asked the same question in our heads before. Let’s answer your question: Direct Asia is owned by a Bermuda-based insurance provider called Hiscox.
Where is Bermuda? It’s an island owned by the United Kingdom in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, somewhere under New York City.
Is Hiscox insurance legit as well? Yes, Hiscox is very legit. It’s listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX) and is part of the FTSE 250 Index. And, the company has been around since 1901.
Anyway, coming back to travel insurance.
Direct Asia’s travel insurance plan comes in annual multi-trip and single-trip plans, the latter which has 3 tiers for you to choose from:
- DA150 (cheapest)
- DA1000 (most expensive, not covering in this review)
The price of your Direct Asia travel insurance is largely determined by the country you’re travelling to. Like most of the travel insurance plans you’ll find in Singapore, Direct Asia’s travel insurance premiums are divided into 3 categories:
- ASEAN: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam
- Asia: Australia, China (excluding Tibet and Mongolia), Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan, South Korea, Macau, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Taiwan
- Worldwide: All countries (except Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nepal, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Yemen)
Here, a summary table of the key coverage and benefits you’ll get from Direct Asia travel insurance:
|Direct Asia Travel Insurance||DA150||DA200||DA500|
|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|
|Baggage/ belongings loss||$1,000||$3,000||$5,000|
|Covid-19||Add on: Covid-19 package|
|Adventure activities||Add on: Extreme Sports and Activities|
Is Direct Asia’s travel insurance good? Compared to AIA travel insurance ($37 to $123/week), Great Eastern travel insurance ($26 to $118/week), MSIG travel insurance ($61 to $201/week), Direct Asia’s travel insurance is pretty cheap at $35 to $94/week.
Cheap is one thing. But is it value for money or not?
Direct Asia’s lowest tier DA150 travel insurance 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 travel insurance‘s basic plans which offer $200,000 and $250,000 respectively.
If you’re thinking of upgrading to a better DA200 and DA500 plan because I mentioned earlier that Direct Asia travel insurance’s prices are quite cheap… don’t be fooled!
When you look at the coverage, the most expensive DA500 is closer to a typical 2nd tier travel insurance plan that other competitors are offering. Which means DA200 is actually kind of in-between basic and middle tier. It looks like a good deal, but it’s not really that value for money.
2. Direct Asia Travel Insurance Covid-19 Coverage
Don’t go around assuming that all travel insurance plans in Singapore have Covid-19 coverage included. Yes, bigger insurance companies such as AIA travel insurance, AIG travel insurance, and Sompo have got Covid-19 coverage included in all of their plans.
However, several other insurers such as FWD and Direct Asia’s travel insurance plans do not include Covid-19 coverage by default.
Instead, you’ll need to add on Covid-19 rider from their ala carte menu. Here are the Covid-19 benefits you’ll get from the add-on:
|Direct Asia Travel Insurance: Covid-19 Add-On|
|Trip Cancelling/ Shortening||$3,000|
|Medical expenses (overseas)||$150,000|
|Medical expenses (Singapore)||$2,000|
|Emergency medical evacuation/ Repatriation||$100,000|
|Overseas hospitalisation allowance||–|
|Overseas quarantine allowance||–|
Unfortunately, Direct Asia travel insurance’s Covid-19 coverage is not the most adequate for your travels.
You can claim up to $3,000 for any trip cancellation or disruption in the event you test Covid positive pre-trip or during your trip. If you test Covid-19 positive prior to departure and want to postpone your trip, you won’t be covered.
You get a sufficient $150,000 for Covid-19 medical expenses overseas, and another $100,000 for emergency medical evacuation or repatriation of your body – which may not be sufficient if you’re terribly ill in a far away country, such as the United States.
Take for example, if you are going to Seoul and buy the most basic Direct Asia DA150 plan at $43.75 for 7 days. You throw in another $27.40 for the Covid-19 add-on. That makes your total premium $71.15 for a basic tier travel insurance plan.
$43.75 + $27.40 = $71.15 for 7 days in Seoul
For the $70 price range, there’s Sompo’s Essential travel insurance plan ($72/week) which offers more benefits such as Covid-19 hospitalisation and quarantine daily cash allowance, or MSIG Standard travel insurance plan ($74/week) with higher trip shortening, cancellation, and postponement coverage.
- Med. Coverage (Overseas)
- Trip Cancellation
- Loss/Damage of Baggage
- Total PremiumTotal Premium
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3. Extreme Sports and Outdoor Adventure
Direct Asia travel insurance plans do not cover outdoor activities and extreme sports. The normal travel insurance plan, however, covers regular sports and activities such as:
- Hot air balloon
- Hiking (no ropes or specialist equipment, max 1,500m)
Instead, you’ll have to add on the Extreme Sports and Activities package from the ala carte menu to cover any other outdoor adventure and sports you plan to participate in.
Direct Asia is one of the rare travel insurance companies that covers competitive contact sports and races – great if you’re travelling abroad for a marathon, triathlon, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition, or rugby meet. However, this plan does not cover you if you are a professional athlete.
The big caveat you must take note of here is: Extreme Sports package is only available for annual multi-trip plans, but the Covid-19 package is not available for Direct Asia’s annual multi-trip plans. So, you can’t get Covid-19 coverage and Extreme Sports coverage at the same time.
Here are the prices for the Direct Asia Extreme Sports and Activities package:
- Asia: $81.40/week
- Worldwide: $105.16/week
Here’s a summary of common holiday adventure activities that Direct Asia’s Extreme Sports rider covers:
|Direct Asia Travel Insurance||Extreme Sports Add On|
|Hot air balloon||Yes|
|Skiing, other ice, snow sports||Yes (including guided off-piste skiing)|
|Hiking, trekking||Yes (up to 4,000m, guided)|
|Mountaineering or outdoor rock climbing||Yes|
|Marathons, triathlons, cycling||Yes|
|Martial arts, boxing||Yes|
|Competitions, races, contact team sports||Yes|
|White water rafting||Yes|
|Paragliding, hang gliding, parachuting||Yes|
|Go-kart, sand buggy, all-terrain vehicles||Yes (wear helmet)|
4. Direct Asia Travel Insurance Terms and Conditions
Are there any other terms and conditions in Direct Asia’s travel insurance policy wording that you should know about? Yes, in particular these:
- Air Miles and Hotel Reward Points: Your flight or hotel bookings won’t be covered if you booked them with air miles, hotel membership points, or credit card reward points.
- Medical Expenses (Singapore): If you fell ill overseas but want to seek treatment back home, you must consult a doctor within 48 hours of your arrival back in Singapore. You should also get approval from Direct Asia before you go to your private clinic or hospital of choice.
- Emergency medical evacuation: You need to get any medical evacuation plans to be authorised by Direct Asia before going ahead for it to be claimable.
- Pre-Existing Conditions are not covered by Direct Asia’s travel insurance plans. If you need coverage for your pre-existing medical conditions, try MSIG travel insurance or NTUC travel insurance plans instead.
- Death and permanent total disablement claims only cover accidents and not illnesses and diseases.
- Theft or Loss of Personal Belongings (part 1): You must have original purchase receipts and documents from your police reports, hotel reports, and airline reports to support your claim. You need to also be able to prove that item was stolen, or lost in the custody of your airline or transport company etc.
- Theft/ Loss of Personal Belongings (part 2): While Direct Asia covers theft or loss of personal possessions, the terms and conditions state that they don’t cover belongings that were “misplacement by you” or the “mysterious disappearance” of your belongings.
- Pet Hotel benefit only covers cats and dogs.
5. Direct Asia Travel Insurance Claim Review
The one great thing about Direct Asia is the responsive and prompt customer service hotline. The customer service team answer calls quickly, give you good advice, and are patient to listen to your travel plans and help you along – a very important support system for travellers who are stuck in emergency situations abroad.
Claim reviews on Google Reviews have been mixed – with some users praising they had a smooth claims process, but others ran into long-drawn claims processes that were eventually denied.
Direct Asia Overseas emergency hotline: Call +65 6603 3699 (international)
Direct Asia Claims hotline (Singapore): Call +65 6532 1818
Claims deadline: Claims must be made within 30 days of your return to Singapore
Claims settlement time: According to Direct Asia, 80% of their claims are settled within 24 hours. That’s a very tall order and big promise to make. Anyway, you can expect claims to generally pan out over 1 month to 6 months, and you should diligently call the claims hotline to check on the claims status.
6. Direct Asia vs FWD Travel Insurance
Budget to budget travel insurance provider, is Direct Asia or FWD’s travel insurance better? We compare:
|Direct Asia Travel Insurance||FWD Travel Insurance|
|Price (ASEAN)||$35 to $69/week||$25 to $44/week|
|Price (Asia)||$40 to $74/week||$27 to $53/week|
|Price (Worldwide)||$54 to $94/week||$42 to $73/week|
|Medical Expenses (Overseas)||$150,000 – $500,000||$200,000 – $1,000,000|
|Emergency Medical Evacuation||$1,500,000||Unlimited|
|Personal Accident (Death & TPD)||$100,000 – $500,000||$200,000 – $400,000|
|Travel Delay (Overseas)||$1,000 – $1,500||$300 – $1,000|
|Trip cancellation||$3,000 – $15,000||$7,500 – $15,000|
|Baggage loss||$1,000 – $5,000||$3,000 – $7,500|
|Adventure activities||Yes, add on||Yes|
|Covid-19||Yes, add on||Yes, add on|
|Claims Reviews Online||Mixed||Fast claims|
Benefits wise, it’s clear that FWD’s travel insurance offers way more in coverage. On top of that, FWD has numerous great online reviews about their prompt and fast claims processes. However, FWD does require you to get your claim documents straight for the fast claims process to happen.
- Med. Coverage (Overseas)
- Trip Cancellation
- Loss/Damage of Baggage
- Total PremiumTotal Premium
7. 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 Asia will cost $26.25 for DA150, which is on the reasonable side of things (usually it ranges from $20 to $25).
Upgrade to DA200 and you’ll pay $29.40, 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 may not be on par.)
8. Direct Asia Travel Insurance Review
For regular Singaporeans going on holiday, Direct Asia is certainly a cheap budget travel insurance with adequate coverage for the important things such as emergency medical evacuation and overseas medical expenses.
However, you may not get to enjoy miscellaneous coverage such as baggage loss, travel delay etc. – which suits a generally safe, fuss-free, and seasoned traveller.
If you’re prone to testing positive for Covid-19, Direct Asia’s travel insurance is not for you since the Covid-19 add-on rider is pretty pricey for the little coverage it provides.
However, if you have a 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.
Looking to buy travel insurance? Compare the best travel insurance here.