Buying travel insurance in Singapore is something a lot of us take for granted. Few of us bother to buy travel insurance ahead of time, and even fewer compare to find the best travel insurance in Singapore.
In fact, the only time we think of buying a policy is when there’s some kind of travel insurance promotion in Singapore. During such promotions, premium prices are significantly slashed. But it’s not a good idea to buy a policy just because it’s cheap.
Here is everything you should look out for before buying travel insurance in Singapore.
- What does travel insurance cover you for?
- What kind of travel insurance coverage should I look out for?
- Which is the cheapest travel insurance in Singapore?
- Which is the best travel insurance in Singapore?
- Be careful about pre-existing conditions!
- When should I buy travel insurance?
- Should you buy single trip or annual travel insurance?
- Why should I compare travel insurance before buying it?
What does travel insurance cover you for?
A good travel insurance policy covers you for a whole series of situations, from the small inconveniences to the most terrible. Trust me, you never want to be in a situation that you’re not covered for. It could be something as minor as having your luggage delayed for one night, so you either have to spend a night in the same clothes you spent the entire flight on. Or it could be extremely serious, like getting stung badly by jellyfish in the middle of a remote island adventure and needing immediate medical attention.
You should therefore have coverage for everything from lost and delayed luggage, flight delays and cancellations, all the way to medical treatment, medical evacuation and even repatriation in case of serious illness and death. Different situations have different levels of coverage, of course.
Travel insurance also covers things like reimbursing deposits if your travel agent goes bust, or if your credit card is used fraudulently overseas. Some policies even pay you if you are kidnapped while overseas! And the best part is that a policy is relatively cheap and convenient to buy.
What kind of travel insurance coverage should I look out for?
With so many different benefits in one policy, it may be tough to decide if a travel insurance policy is worth paying for. You should look out for how much you are reimbursed for the more common travel inconveniences.
Flight delays and cancellations happen more often than you realise. They can be extremely inconvenient, especially if it ends up causing you to miss your connecting flight. Ensure that your policy covers you for a decent period of time. For example, if your flight is delayed, some policies pay you $100 for every 6 consecutive hours of delay.
The only thing worse than delayed baggage is lost baggage. Make sure your policy covers you well for such situations. Some policies pay $200 for every 6 consecutive hours your baggage is delayed, and up to $800 for each item of lost baggage. You should also pay attention to the maximum amount you’re covered for.
The last and perhaps most important thing to look out for is medical coverage overseas. Since you can never predict what might happen on your trip, it literally pays to be safe than sorry. A good travel insurance policy covers you for at least $200,000 for overseas medical coverage. Good policies also provide unlimited coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.
Which is the cheapest travel insurance in Singapore?
Travel insurance in Singapore is very price-sensitive, and sometimes insurers can compete to shave off even $1 from their premiums to make their policies more enticing. As a result, it’s very hard to say which is the cheapest option in Singapore right now.
One way to get a cheaper policy is to see which insurers offer regional travel insurance. If you are only travelling to Thailand, for example, it is usually cheaper to get a policy that covers only nearby regions, such as the ASEAN countries, rather than get a policy that covers more countries in Asia.
Ultimately, cheap isn’t always best. It doesn’t make sense to pay just $1 less in premiums if you’re going to end up with significantly less coverage for lost luggage, for example.
Which is the best travel insurance in Singapore?
The best travel insurance is therefore what gives you the most value for money. Say you are only travelling to Thailand for a weekend shopping trip, for example. You’re probably travelling light and don’t need more than $3,000 coverage for loss of baggage, even if you can pay just $3 more for significantly more coverage. Save that $3 and treat yourself to all the Thai milk tea you could drink!
As we said earlier, you shouldn’t be so giam and only buy the cheapest. The cheapest may have lots of terms and conditions when it comes to claims. For example, an insurer might not cover delayed luggage if it is only delayed returning to Singapore. However, if this is the only inconvenience you face in your entire trip, you might be understandably upset that it’s not claimable.
The important thing is to read the terms and conditions of your preferred policy carefully and make sure you’re not caught unawares. This is especially important when it comes to medical pre-existing conditions.
Be careful about pre-existing conditions!
One of the biggest travel insurance stories in 2017 was when a Singaporean man had a heart attack in Tokyo and fell into a coma. The medical costs alone cost $120,000 and bringing him back to Singapore via medical evacuation would cost another $120,000.
Because the man had been diagnosed with heart failure in 2012, his insurer considered it a pre-existing condition and therefore no claim was possible. Currently, there is only one insurer that covers pre-existing conditions, NTUC Income with the Enhanced PreX plans. Do note that some Sompo plans (the ones you have to pay more for, lah) now also provide unlimited coverage for medical evacuation due to pre-existing conditions. So if you have a medical condition, you may want to choose an insurer that provides you with the necessary coverage.
When should I buy travel insurance?
You should buy a policy as soon as you’ve planned your trip. You can even buy insurance online these days! This is because you’ll want to maximise the coverage you can get from the policy. For example, if you haven’t bought a policy yet and the travel agency you’re booking with closes down a week before your travel, you won’t be able to claim anything. The same goes for flight delays and flight cancellations.
There is no penalty for buying travel insurance earlier, except maybe missing out on promotions that often happen around the travel season. But what’s the point of saving a few dollars and risk losing hundreds due to cancelled flights and hotel deposits?
Should you buy single trip or annual travel insurance?
Depending on how often you travel and how far you travel, it might be worthwhile to consider buying annual travel insurance.
Annual travel insurance has a flat premium and covers you for an entire year of travel. It usually costs about $200-$300 a year, so only buy it it you are a frequent traveller. That is, it only makes sense if you are going to travel overseas more than 7-8 times a year, at least.
If you are a frequent traveller, you not only save money by buying an annual policy, but you’ll never have to spend time buying insurance every time you fly overseas. Of course, just like single trip travel insurance, you should still compare the various policies online before you commit.
Why should I compare travel insurance before buying it?
Comparing allows you to choose the best travel insurance policy for your needs. You’ll be able to see at a glance what coverage policies have for various situations, such as medical costs, and compensation levels for lost, delayed and damaged baggage.
But of course, comparing travel insurance in Singapore allows you to see that the cheapest travel insurance policy may not be the best. This is because the cheaper policies usually have significantly less coverage, naturally. While that may be a good thing for some travellers – there’s no need to get a $1,000 coverage for lost luggage if you’re only bringing the bare minimum to a staycation in Bangkok, for example.
Use MoneySmart’s travel insurance comparison tool to find a suitable travel insurance policy.