Going overseas may not be advisable for the time being due to the ongoing pandemic, but wanderlust Singaporeans might already be itching for their next trip.

If by any chance, you are planning for a trip once the pandemic is over, you might be wondering if you should spend on travel insurance.

Well, in a foreign country, facing mishaps such as flight delays, getting your items stolen or falling sick can be distressing and expensive. Truth is, the risk of unexpected mishaps happening in an unfamiliar place is higher. So, it is wise to purchase a good travel insurance policy that caters to your travel needs in case of mishaps, travel delays, or unforeseen circumstances. 

When to buy travel insurance?

A travel insurance policy kicks in once the premium is paid, which is why it is best to purchase your travel insurance right after you book the trip because you will be entitled to trip cancellation benefits due to unforeseen circumstances.

For instance, when the COVID-19 outbreak spread, insurance companies quickly put up a disclaimer that stated the last possible date to claim for trip cancellation benefits. Most insurers set the date between 20 and 23 Jan 2020. This means that you had a trip scheduled for the later part of the year, and you have not bought your insurance policy by 20 Jan 2020, you will not be able to claim for trip cancellation benefits due to COVID-19.

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In another example, when riots and protests broke out in Hong Kong and MFA issued an advisory against non-essential travel there, insurers also announced that there will be no compensation for losses or damage caused as a result of the riots for policies purchased after a certain date (e.g. 21 July 2019). This is because the escalation of riots was already a known event.

Similarly, if you face unexpected medical conditions that prompt you to cancel your trip without a travel insurance policy, you do not stand to benefit from trip cancellation benefits.

However, there is one plan that offers post-departure benefits at the moment which is OneTrip Emergency Medical by Allianz. Take note though, it does not include trip cancellation or trip interruption benefits. It only includes emergency medical and emergency transportation delays, as well as travel delays, missed connections or damaged baggage.

What to look out for in travel insurance policies

Not all travel insurance policies are made the same, just as not all travellers have the same travel style. If you are going to urban destination that are known to be relatively safe, you may get by with minimal coverage. But even in the most developed cities, no one can rule out the possibility of theft, natural disasters or even acts of terrorism, which are unforeseen circumstances where travel insurance can compensate for.

Also, if you are taking part in adventurous activities in your itinerary, such as skiing, hiking, or bungee jumping, ensure that your travel insurance coverage compensates for injuries or death as a result of such activities.

You would also want an insurance policy from an established company that is known for reliable claims. Other key factors to consider include premium affordability, overseas medical expenses, loss or damage to belongings, delayed baggage, and trip cancellation benefits.

Also, if you have pre-existing medical conditions, consider paying more to get travel insurance that covers you in the event where you require medical treatment for pre-existing conditions on your travels. NTUC Enhanced PreX and MSIG TravelEasy Pre-Ex are two of such policies.

Should you buy travel insurance from an airline or an insurance company?

A very convenient way to get travel insurance is to add on to your air ticket booking by buying from airlines. It's quick and you can add the insurance cost to your air ticket cost in a single payment. However, some of these travel policies have limited liability coverage and limited pay-outs for medical evacuation and treatment.

Also, there may not be coverage for missed or overbooked flights and you may find that the conditions to claim for cancelled and disrupted trips can be overly specific, making it quite hard to claim.

Don’t scrimp on the research. Even if you want to click and buy together with your flight ticket, read the terms and conditions carefully and ensure that coverage for various aspects such as travel delay, personal accident, medical expenses, travel misconnection is sufficient and price-competitive. 

Or else, don’t be afraid to buy separately. After settling your air tickets, head on to an insurance comparison site like GoBear and you will be able to compare and select the best travel insurance policy across multiple travel insurance providers, products, and plans that cater to your needs.

Comparing and purchasing is easy and quick. So, have an upcoming trip? Don’t forget to secure your travel insurance early! 

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GoBear team

Brought to you by GoBear Insurance Broker (SG) Pte. Ltd., a registered insurance broker with the Monetary Authority of Singapore