Great Eastern’s travel insurance plans were once upon a time one of the most popular options in the market, but that was way back when everyone wore huge-ass shoulder pads. Now that the field has been disrupted by so many young upstarts, can the Red Lion still play the game?
1. Great Eastern Covid Travel Insurance: Premiums
In the past, Great Eastern travel insurance was sold under 2 brands: Great Eastern Travel E@sy and Great Eastern TravelSmart – both have since been taken off the market.
Great Eastern TravelSmart was still available for purchase as recent as March 2022, when Covid-19 travel were just about easing and “cruise to nowhere” was all the rage. Back then, you may have bought a Great Eastern TravelSmart Basic which was the cheapest travel insurance variant covering you for cruises, Bintan, Batam etc. However, thanks to the rapidly changing global travel restrictions, these travel insurance plans come and go so quickly. Great Eastern TravelSmart is no longer available.
Instead, it’s been replaced by Great Eastern TravelSmart Premier, which comes in 3 plan tiers:
Here is a summary table of the Great Eastern TravelSmart Premier travel insurance’s premiums, benefits, and key coverage:
|Great Eastern Travel Insurance||Basic (No Covid-19 Coverage)||Classic||Elite|
|Premiums /week (Asia)||$26||$65||$75|
|Premiums /week (Worldwide)||–||$99||$118|
|Medical Expenses (Overseas)||$100,000||$300,000||$500,000|
|Emergency Medical Evacuation||$100,000||$1,000,000||$1,000,000|
|Personal Accident (Death & TPD)||$100,000||$250,000||$500,000|
|Travel Delay (Overseas)||$50/6 hours, cap $1,000||$100/6 hours, cap $1,200||$100/6 hours, cap $1,200|
|Trip cancellation, disruption||$2,000||$10,000||$15,000|
|Overseas baggage delay ($200/6 hours)||$200||$1,000||$1,200|
Note: Premiums are based on single-trip to South Korea (Asia), and Switzerland (Worldwide) for 7 days during the September school holidays 2022.
Travel insurance plans’ premiums are usually priced according to the country you’re travelling to. While these countries are usually presented neatly in a table so you can figure out your premiums, Great Eastern does not state any of the countries nor their premiums transparently – which is a turn off.
Instead, you have to key your country of destination into their website to check the premiums one by one. Here, we’ve checked a list of 3 to 7 day single-trip premiums for all us Singaporeans’ favourite holidaying spots:
- Malaysia: $19 Basic, $47 Classic, $56 Elite
- Bintan: $19 Basic, $47 Classic, $56 Elite
- Indonesia: $47 Classic, $56 Elite
- Thailand: $47 Classic, $56 Elite
- Vietnam: $47 Classic, $56 Elite
- Cambodia: $47 Classic, $56 Elite
- Hong Kong: $47 Classic, $56 Elite
- South Korea: $65 Classic, $75 Elite
- Japan: $65 Classic, $75 Elite
- India: $65 Classic, $75 Elite
- Australia: $65 Classic, $75 Elite
- Bhutan: $99 Classic, $118 Elite
- Maldives: $99 Classic, $118 Elite
- Germany: $99 Classic, $118 Elite
- London/ UK: $99 Classic, $118 Elite
- Paris/ France: $99 Classic, $118 Elite
- USA:$99 Classic, $118 Elite
2. Great Eastern Travel Insurance’s Covid-19 Coverage
Although Great Eastern’s TravelSmart Premier travel insurance comes in 3 tier plans – Basic, Classic, and Elite – Covid-19 coverage is not offered in the Basic plan. Only the Great Eastern TravelSmart Premier Classic and Elite plans give you Covid-19 coverage.
Here’s a summary of Great Eastern travel insurance’s Covid-19 coverage:
|Great Eastern Travel Insurance||Classic||Elite|
|Medical Expenses (Overseas)||$50,000||$150,000|
|Quarantine Allowance (Overseas)||$50/day, max 14 days||$100/day, max 14 days|
|Hospitalisation Allowance (Overseas)||$50/day, max 14 days||$100/day, max 14 days|
|Emergency Medical Evacuation||$50,000||$150,000|
|Automatic Extension of Cover||Up to 30 days||Up to 30 days|
Some other things to note about Great Eastern’s travel insurance:
- Pre-Trip Covid-19 Coverage: If you test Covid-19 positive 30 days before your departure date and need to cancel or postpone your trip, Great Eastern’s Covid-19 travel insurance will cover your travel fares, hotel accommodation, entertainment tickets.
- During Trip Covid-19 Coverage: From the day you test Covid-19 positive overseas, you’ll be covered for 90 days. Your travel insurance plan will also be automatically be extended for 30 days for free.
- Post-Trip Covid-19 Coverage: If you get Covid-19 only after you land in Singapore, you will not be covered.
Honestly, Great Eastern travel insurance’s Covid-19 coverage pales in comparison to competitors’ such as Sompo’s Covid-19 travel insurance which offers a higher $100,000 to $200,000 in Covid-19 medical expenses coverage and emergency medical evacuation, and $2,000 to $4,000 in trip postponement claims.
All these are important – higher Covid-19 medical expense coverage means you can be assured that even if you’re sent to an expensive private hospital for Covid-19. Likewise, do not overlook the emergency medical evacuation coverage. If you came down with a really bad case of Covid-19, the doctors deemed you unfit for normal flight, and you need to be medically flown back to Singapore, the bill could easily come up to $200,000 or $300,000.
Not shitting you, it’s real. I’ve had a friend who was stuck in the US ’cause she was unfit to fly. Google “fundraiser for Singapore medical evacuation” to see more real-life examples.
Like Sompo travel insurance, Great Eastern travel insurance does not offer post-trip Covid-19 coverage. So if you’re back in Singapore and test positive for Covid-19, that’s on you.
3. Great Eastern Travel Insurance: Disadvantages
There are some caveats to Great Eastern’s travel insurance and Covid-19 coverage that you need to take note of. For example, don’t make the mistake of buying your travel insurance only at the airport’s boarding area, just before your flight. Most travel insurance plans have waiting periods as well:
- Short Trips Only: Your trip cannot be longer than 90 days
- Covid-19 Coverage: Only included in Classic and Elite plans
- No Air Miles, Hotel Reward Points: If you’re planning to use air miles, reward points to redeem your flight and hotel tickets, these tickets won’t be covered by your Great Eastern (GE) travel insurance
- Buy Early: There’s a 7-day waiting period before your GE travel insurance plan kicks in
- First and Business Class: Your travel tickets will only be covered up to economy class ticket’s price bracket
- Flight Delay caused by the airline or government (due to Covid-19 regulations) is not claimable
- No post-trip Covid-19 coverage
- No coverage for pre-existing conditions
As with all travel insurance, you need to prove that you have tried to call your hotel and airlines to get a flight ticket exchange or refund to no avail. Only then will your travel insurance be able to cover your additional expenses.
4. Travel Insurance For Extreme Sports & Outdoor Activities
A great advantage of the Great Eastern travel insurance is its comprehensive coverage of extreme sports and outdoor activities adventure. You’ll need to get the Classic or Elite plan, and you must be engaging in these outdoor adventure activities in a leisure or recreational way with licensed guides and instructors. That means you cannot be a professional bungee jumper trying to win a competition.
Here are the outdoor adventurous activities that are covered by Great Eastern travel insurance:
|Outdoor Adventure||Great Eastern Travel Insurance Cover?|
|Canoeing/ White Water Rafting||Yes (with Guide, below Grade 4)|
|Helicopter/ Airplane Rides||Yes (sightseeing)|
|Hot Air Balloon Rides||Yes (sightseeing)|
|Mountaineering/ Trekking||Yes (below 4,000m)|
|Skiing/ Snowboarding||Yes (only in ski resort)|
|Underwater diving/ activities||Yes (max 30m, PADI cert, with buddy or instructor)|
5. Travel Insurance Claim Great Eastern
Dealing with travel insurance claims is not the easiest thing. You’re back in Singapore, just ended a wonderful holiday with great memories, got lots of clothes to wash, and a million MS Teams messages from your boss – absolutely not in the mood to sort paperwork for travel insurance claims.
Before you depart for your trip, make sure you have all your flight bookings, tour agency receipts, and hotel and Airbnb receipts printed in a file that you can use for any claims. If you’re bringing any high-value laptops, expensive cameras, or expensive Rimowa luggages along, dig out those receipts and leave it in the file, too. Just do it and leave it on your dining table.
- Fall sick, get into an accident, get Covid-19: Call Great Eastern’s hotline at +65 6339 2155 (24-hour Emergency Assistance). Document the entire accident process (your wounds), your hospitalisation, and DEMAND for all documents detailing your diagnosis, your medicine, hospitalisation stay, and the bills. Go over the top. You need all sorts of evidence to prove to the old geezers sitting in the Claims Department that your leg indeed broke while you were sightseeing in Jeju Island and not Bukit Timah Hill.
- Lost item or Theft: Report loss of item and theft to local police within 24 hours, get a copy of the printed report
- Lost item or Theft in airplane, hotel, DisneyLand, etc.: Also make a report to your airline, tour bus company, hotel, amusement park etc… wherever you lost it, get a copy of the report in print
- Original Receipts: Go home, dig out all the original documents and receipts for your loss or stolen items
- Download and Print Claims Form: For Great Eastern, all their forms need to be downloaded, printed, filled in, and mailed to their GE office in Singapore. Here is the Great Eastern travel insurance claim form.
- Submit Claims: Submit all your travel-related documents, flight tickets, hotel bookings, PLUS your claims documents to Great Eastern via snail mail. Afterwards, call their general hotline 1800-248-2888 to check on the status of your claims. The address is:
(Attention: General Insurance Claims Department)
Great Eastern General Insurance Limited,
1 Pickering Street,
#01-01 Great Eastern Centre, Singapore 048659
6. Great Eastern Travel Insurance Promo
At the moment, there is no ongoing travel insurance promotion for Great Eastern.
There is, however, a $100 gift credit that you can make use of to get 10% off your travel insurance premium. You’ll have to download the Great Eastern Rewards mobile app, and sign in. Then, you’ll get $100 credits in your wallet.
But Great Eastern is a little sneaky… you can only offset a maximum of 10% of your premium at any point in time. So, if your GE travel insurance premium cost you $65, that’s $6.50 in discount. Yes, Great Eastern TravelSmart Premier is eligible for this promotion.
7. Great Eastern Travel Insurance Review
Should you buy Great Eastern travel insurance? If you’re planning a trip to Niseko to skii, Bungee jumping in Seminyak Bali, or scuba diving in the Philippines, you’ll be glad to know that Great Eastern’s travel insurance is great for recreational extreme sports and adventures such as hiking and trekking.
The basic coverage for GE’s Travel Smart Classic and Elite plans aren’t terrible, but they’re not really that high. It covers all your needs sufficiently, e.g. medical expenses in overseas hospitals, medical evacuation back to Singapore, baggage delay, and loss.
Great Eastern travel insurance’s Covid-19 coverage is, again, the bare minimum with $50,000 Classic and $150,000 Elite medical expense coverage for you when you get hospitalised overseas for Covid-19. The daily $50 or $100 Covid quarantine or hospitalisation allowance is great, but it is capped at 14 days.
However, the trip cancellation, postponement, and disruption coverage is pretty low at $1,000, $3,000, and $5,000 – and may be insufficient to cover the now-exorbitant airfares.
But perhaps the biggest deal breaker is the terribly outdated claims process. Hey Great Eastern, 1995 called. They want your insurance claims procedure back.
Looking to buy travel insurance? Compare all Covid-19 travel insurance here.