A Guide to Buy Travel Insurance

When you travel, be sure to get yourself covered with a travel insurance! You never know if you are going to need travel or medical related assistance while overseas, especially when medical bill in United States and Japan can get real expensive. Thousands of dollars in medical bill can be avoided with a simple travel insurance plan!

Types of Travel Insurance

Different Types of Travel Insurance 

Based on the nature of your travel pattern, pick a type of travel insurance that best covers you and saves you the most. Here are a few to consider:

  • Single or Per-Trip Travel Insurance is usually arranged at the time of the booking of a trip and covers only exactly the duration of that trip.
  • Multiple Trip Travel Insurance provides protection for multiple trips during one year, but none of the trips must exceed 30 days.
  • Backpacking Insurance is very similar to multiple-trip. The only difference is that the backpacking insurance has a higher cap on the number of days that it will cover your trip – up to 18 months for some companies.
  • Annual Travel Insurance provides coverage for a full year like multi-trip, but without the 30-day limit.
  • Family Holiday Insurance is aimed at families travelling together, with the party usually consisting of two adults and up to four children until to the age of 18.

Buy Travel Insurance Online

After you have decided on the type of travel insurance, buy it online. This is because buying online helps you to save – on broker fees of up to whopping 40% and allows you access to a wide range of promotions and deals.

And with online tools, you can easily make comparisons between the different travel insurance plans.

Travel Insurance Online Comparison Tools (Singapore):

I found insurance plans listed on GoBear generally cheaper than those on MoneySmart. But no harm using both tools to get the best deal. Oh, I love the interface of GoBear – with coverage ratings, clear cut policy highlights, and saved preferred options for you to come back to. When you have made your choice, you will be redirected to the insurer’s page to purchase.

p.s. This post is not sponsored by gobear.com.sg.


5 Tips For Buying Travel Insurance

1. Buy Travel Insurance Early

Good rule of thumb: Buy your travel insurance as soon as you book your tour or flight. In this way, you can enjoy pre-departure coverage benefits such as:

  • Flight cancellation due to natural disasters
  • Trip delay or cancellation due to travel destination struck by natural disasters, epidemic, civil unrest, or war
  • Travel postponement or trip disruption due to traffic accident, serious sickness or injury, or a strike by airline staff or a closed airport due to weather conditions
  • Your travel agency becoming insolvent and no longer able to fulfil the travel plans you have paid for

(!) Don’t wait until you are at the airport or worse still, when you are at your travel destination to buy your travel insurance. You will miss out on the pre-departure benefits listed above.

Also, most travel insurance companies will either not cover or charge a higher premium for a trip that has already started. And if they do, there will be a waiting period of 3 days before the coverage starts. That means, any claim arising before or during that time-lapse will not be covered.

2. Get a Good Travel Insurance Provider

  • Reliable Emergency Advice / Assistance 
  • Ease of Claim – This is subjective. Check the forums on the travel insurance provider you want to buy from.

3. Know your coverage priorities.

Coverage highlights to look out for:

  • Areas Covered – Not all travel insurance policies have worldwide coverage. Some only cover ASEAN travels, while offering options to upgrade.
  • Medical Expenses –  Overseas medical expenses or medical treatments upon returning from trip.
  • Delayed Departure – Delays leading to losses such as connecting flight’s no-show penalty or 1 night accommodation? Glad you got it covered!
  • Delayed Baggage – Inconvenience and costs coming from a delayed baggage reimbursed. Yays!
  • Equipment Coverage – Not all insurance covers special equipments such as golf, cameras, music instruments, etc. You might need customized coverage if it is not covered under the existing policies. If your holiday involves golfing, a cover for golfing equipment and hole-in-one is good.
  • Extreme Sports – Most basic insurance policies won’t cover this. However, there are options to upgrade to cover these activities. Mountaineering? Good to get one with adequate emergency medical evacuation. And remember to bring the emergency hotline along!

4. Cover for the Full Length of Your Trip 

Cover for the full duration of your trip, including the days you fly to and from your holiday destination. This will ensure coverage claim over baggage delays, loss or damage, or overbooking of flights.

For long haul trips, it’s best to cater for extra 1 or 2 days for your flight to reach Singapore.

5. Read the Policy T&Cs. 

Read the fine print. Your policy’s terms and conditions holds important information about your coverage, such as payout limits, situations covered, exclusions, claim procedures, etc.

Read before anything happens, so when the time comes, you will know if you can utilise your travel insurance or know how to make claims for your losses.

Importantly, remember to keep handy your travel insurance provider’s phone number or emergency hotline.

Common Exclusions on Coverage

Exclusions means situations when you will not be covered and thus not reimbursed by the travel insurance policy. Here are the common ones:

  1. War, armed conflict, civil unrest. But will cover for surprise terrorist strikes in a non high risk country.
  2. Pre-existing diseases or health conditions not notified
  3. Self inflicted fatalities or injuries. Example, narcotics or alcohol abuse, not getting mandatory vaccinations, reckless driving, etc.
  4. Extreme sports and other dangerous activities
    • This is subject to evaluation by the travel insurance company. A few companies do offer insurance coverage for such activities in their general travel insurance, so do some research to find it.
    • There are yet some companies that offer specialised plans to cover risks involved in these extreme sports, and of course, at a higher premium.
  5. Natural disasters and environmental hazards. Some travel insurance providers may limit their coverage for natural disasters. Also, if an area is guaranteed to carry environmental hazards, insurance coverage for these risks may be extremely limited or completely absent.
  6. Going to a country despite being warned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  7. Losing unattended personal belongings
  8. Cancelling your trip. Depending on the insurance policy, cancelling a trip due to legal issues, or trouble getting the required travel documentation in time, might also not be valid.

Thus, remember to look through your policy’s full list of exclusions to fully understand the limits of your insurance coverage.

Summarised from GoBear’s Blog

Travel Insurance that comes with Credit Card  

Is travel Insurance that comes with your credit card enough to cover for your trip? Here are the possible limitations to credit card travel insurance:

  • Only cover for the journey that is fully paid with the credit card.
  • Many medical and age limitations set in place, e.g. Citibank Singapore’s complimentary travel insurance excludes pre-existing health problems from being covered and sets an age limit of 75 years old, with severe limitations in medical coverage for people above 70.
  • Coverage is usually limited to 90 days.
  • Actual events and amounts covered by credit card travel insurance can be very limiting.

Summarised from GoBear’s Blog.

Claim Travel Insurance

I’ve written two posts on how to claim travel insurance: (PART 1), (PART 2).

  • Steps to Claim Travel Insurance
  • Flight Delays situation
  • Delayed Baggage situation

Finally, hope you do not have to claim travel insurance but have a safe travel!

Do you have any travel insurance tips or experience to share? Leave a comment.

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