Volume 4: Are you feeling confused with travel insurance?

If you find yourself reading this entry, I’m pretty sure that at some point in your life, you ever had that dilemma on whether you should buy travel insurance or not. Well for me, coming from a rather conservative family, the rule of the thumb is to buy. In fact, my mum will always ask if we have bought insurance the night before the trip and if I have forgotten, she will scream at me for being so forgetful/last minute/ignorant/… and then makes the purchase for me. Now that I am getting older, I should be taking over such trivial responsibilities. As a result, I’m writing this article, to remind myself and of course, the person reading this.

Question 1: To buy or not to buy?

Reasons for purchasing travel insurance

  1. Accident & Medical Expenses – If anything were to happen, who knows what sky-high prices you will be charged in a foreign land.
  2. Travel Inconveniences (Flight delay, baggage delay, loss of items) – The probability of such scenarios happening can be very common. I myself had my camera snatched in Manila. It was a hassle to get a police report in a foreign land. Thankfully, I still had the receipt for the camera and could claim back quite a bit from the insurance company.

Reasons against purchasing travel insurance

  1. Cost savings – $20 to $100 (This is so much lesser in comparison to the possible damages incurred in the above scenarios)

Conclusion: BUY!

Question 2: Single or Multi-trip policy?

You should purchase multi-trip (cost approx $300+) if

  • You will travel at least 7 short trips within a year
  • You will be going on at least one super long trip (30 to 90 days) Single trip prices increases with number of days
  • You know which region you will be flying to often e.g. Different prices for different regions – SEA, Asia Pacific, USA & Canada, Worldwide

Question 3: What are the offerings by the different travel insurance companies?

Okay I did an unfair comparison (diff promos, some have ASEAN category, some only have Asia category) as at 20 Feb 2014. It was for a 4-day trip to Indonesia.

This was the outcome:

Bank Tie-ups Current Promo
(4 day trip to Bali)
Multi-trip to SEA
ACE: My Voyage Guard AMEX $20 (after 20%) $184.50 (after 10%)
ACE: Safe Travel Citibank $17.50 (after 30%)
ACE: Got-it-covered StandChart $128
AIG Direct $31 (no promo)
Columbus Direct $14 $160
HSBC Smart Traveler $27.20 (after discount) $204.75
MSIG: TravellerShield POSB/DBS $23.80 (after 15%) $178.5 (after 15%)
MSIG: Enhanced Traveler Protector StandChart $25.20 (after 10%) $168 (after 20%)
NTUC Income $25 (no promo) $260
Tenet: Travel Joy $45 (no promo)
Travel Guard ANZ $24.80 $320
Insure & Travel UOB $25.60 (after 20%) $252 (after 10%)

After the complicated tabulation, my conclusion was to purchase it from ACE: Safe Travel by Citibank as the 30% discount was the most value for money. (This may not be true all the time as discount date varies from time to time)

Despite the low price of $17.50, the coverage is pretty decent as it is their “Classic Plan”.
Here are some highlights of the policy:

  • Journey Cancellation – $5,000
  • Journey Postponement – $750
  • Personal Property  & Baggage –  $3,000
  • Baggage Delay – $200/6 hours up $1,200
  • Personal Money and Travel Documents – $2,000
  • Travel Delay – $100/6 hours up $1,200

These are the few things that I zoom in my focus on as budget airlines are more prone to these possibilities. Fingers Cross + Touch Wood =/

I’ve did a google on the reviews of claims and a large majority didn’t have any issues with the standard  claims relating to seeing doctor upon return, baggage delay (needs verification from airline). However, when it comes to trickier claims which involves trip cancellation and re-booking, with uncommon reasons, it might take forever to resolve (if any).

Why not Columbus Direct as it is the cheapest at $14? 
If you zoom in at the policy, you will realise that the coverage is quite minimum. They don’t cover baggage or travel delays.

Why not ACE: Got-it-covered by StandChart? 
I have to admit that this $128 for a year coverage is very tempting BUT I can’t be so sure that I’ll be making at least 6 trips this year. Though I am currently at number 3.. but I also wouldn’t know whether my remaining trips would be in Asia or beyond so I guess it would be a risk for me to pay such a big amount upfront. Furthermore, the coverage is not very good too.

The Best Deal for Long Trips: TRAVEL FAIR/NATAS FAIR etc.

IF, you do plan to visit the NATAS fair ($4 entrance fee) or other travel related fairs, and that you will be visiting places beyond asia pacific + long trips, you should consider purchasing your travel insurance there. USUALLY, well known brand such as Tenet Insurance, Chartis, etc holds a 40% promotion for such policies. Sometimes, these discounts can even be utilized online (during sales period)!

Back then, I paid $96.80 (40% disc) for a month long trip to Europe consisting of 6 countries from Travel Joy, Tenet Insurance. Now, if I were to get a quote for the same terms, it is $176 with Tenet, $105 (30% disc) with Citibank/ACE. Most of the times, it is worth it to wait for  the promotions.

FINAL CONCLUSION

  • Insurance (be it Travel, Life, Healthcare) is very important, especially in today’s rising medical costs. You have to purchase it no matter what.
  • Always look for the best promotions. You do not need to buy an insurance immediately after you book your tickets. You just have to purchase insurance before you fly off. I usually do it one week to a day before my actual flight UNLESS there is an irresistible promotion which may end.

DON’T FORGET

  • Always remember to store the number of your insurance helpline whenever you are overseas. Have that number saved in your phone, written down on a paper inside your passport, notebook or whatsoever. That number would be very useful if you need require any assistance when you are overseas!

Hope this article helps you in one way or another 😉

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  • Love the site!
    Thanks for sharing this very useful information. It happens all too often that people choose not to get the extra insurance and end up footing a bill for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t cost that much to have peace of mind when your on your vacation.

  • The DBS Travel Shield policies underwritten by MSIG are heavily promoted and discounted but are full of caveats around the medical and activities you can and cannot claim under. beware of this product. For all the advertising regarding adventure sports cover you will find many popular activities are not covered. The advertising is false. Their exclusions for some medical conditions is stringent and the general exclusion for anything related to pregnancy taken to the letter. we found out we were pregnant while travelling and needed to change our flights. they would not assist. brutal. avoid this product

  • I’m a bit confused with the flight delay claim. If it says $100/6 hrs delay, does it mean the delay must be more than 6 hrs before you can make any claim? I had a 4 hrs plus delay recently. Although the company sent an email and said it could be used for insurance claim if required, I guess I’m not eligible right as the delay is less than 6 hrs.

    • Hi Lyn, I haven’t claimed for travel insurance with regards to travel delay before but according to the fine prints, they will only pay you if you exceed 6 hours, in 6 hours block. Don’t think 4 hours will let you be eligible for anything but no harm trying if you have the time.