When buying travel insurance, the majority of us would not think much about making claims. Travel insurance is a form of security in case things go wrong and chances are, we’d cross our fingers for a smooth flight and happy vacation. With such a mindset, it is inevitable that we often end up buying travel insurance on a ‘default’ mode without giving much consideration to the specific coverage required for different travel purposes, and terms and conditions. Do you fall into any of the below categories?

□ I’d choose the cheapest option, depending on on-going promotions.
□ I’d buy the same plan from the same insurer through the insurer’s app that has stored my personal details.
□ My friends said XXX travel insurance is good!
□ I’d leave it to my travel companion/group members to make the decision.
□ My credit card already includes coverage for overseas travel.
□ I bought the travel insurance together with the air tickets offered by the airlines.
□ What travel insurance? I take extra caution when I’m travelling.

If yes, it’s time to sit up, and pay attention. Travel insurance provides more than just a peace of mind, and you may only be able to fully appreciate its importance when a travel disruption occurs. Before we go further, let us go back to the roots of the matter.

Origin of travel insurance

In 1863 (not that long ago!), a gentleman by the name of James Batterson realised that travelling comes with a unique set of risks. With risks come opportunities, and that marked the beginning of travel insurance. Subsequently, the advent of globalisation and technology further spurred travel and increased our need for assurance against travel risks.

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Today, while many people buy travel insurance, there are still confusion and a lack of awareness, especially over travel claim benefits and its procedures. Etiqa Insurance, one of the most innovative digital insurers in Singapore, shares some interesting insights on travel insurance and claims benefits. Read on!

Travel insurance facts that you should know

1. You are covered for up to 60 days before your trip

Savvy travellers often preach about getting travel insurance early but do you know the true implications behind the good advice? Contrary to popular belief, travel insurance does not only cover you during the period of travel or post-trip. It also protects you from trip cancellation (in case of an unforeseen incident, such as bad weather or political unrest that hinders your travel plans) and loss of deposit. This means that if you or your family are injured or ill, or if an unexpected event prevents you from travelling, your travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed according to your policy benefits. Hence, you should always buy your travel insurance ASAP once you have confirmed your travel plans.

2. The cheapest travel insurance does not mean the best value

The basis of travel insurance lies in having a peace of mind, but do you have the habit of considering which aspects of your travel do you need assurance in? Do not be too quick to choose the basic plan with the lowest price because that may not always be the best value choice.

To determine which insurer or plan suits you best, begin with a risk assessment and consider the following:

  • Your destination(s) – Some insurers do not offer coverage for travel to higher-risk countries.
  • Your travel companion(s) – There are greater considerations for solo female travellers or if you are travelling with the elderly (or someone with existing medical conditions)
  • Trip duration – The length of travel will affect your travel insurance costs
  • Travel activities – Adventure travels, such as scuba-diving trips, tend to involve higher risks that may be excluded from coverage, hence optional add-ons may be necessary.
  • The cheapest policy may not be of meaningful value if it does not cover your needs, and paying a little more can go a long way – especially for travellers doing extreme sports or travelling with expensive equipment.

3. Travel delay is not limited to air conveyance

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The travel delay benefit in your policy is not confined to just air travel. While many people associate travel delay with a flight delay, your travel insurance actually covers delay for any air, land, and water conveyance. This means that if the ferry you’ve booked to get to Tioman Island is cancelled or delayed unexpectedly, you can file a claim with relevant, supporting documents. If your train has been delayed due to bad weather or if a pre-booked tour bus fails to turn up at your hotel, this also falls under Travel Delay benefit. There are an array of travel delay instances you can claim for! When in doubt, always refer to your policy wording to know your benefits.

4. There’s usually a time limit to seek medical treatments and file your travel claims

If you have fallen ill overseas or shortly after you return to Singapore, your travel insurance does cover medical expenses.

However, you should note that there is usually a time restriction. Most travel insurance stipulates that medical treatment must be consulted within 48 hours of your return if you have not sought medical treatment during your overseas trip. You must also file your claims immediately upon return, within the terms of your policy. Doing so will also help you to avoid forgetting to file your claims due. You should also let your doctor know that you are covered with travel insurance.

5. Proof is required for making claims

If you wish to make a claim, you must obtain and to submit relevant evidence of the incident. Depending on the type of claim, you’d need different documentary evidence. Often, the insurer will require copies of the airline ticket, police report, medical bills and report, carrier irregularities report and original purchase receipt etc.

Imagine you were driving along the highway when a car crashed against the rear of your vehicle. If both drivers were not injured, you’d be taking pictures to document the damages for motor claims, right? The same rule applies to the unfortunate events during your travel, such as taking pictures of your belongings pre-trip, just in case you happen to lose them along the way! You can refer to the policy contract or contact your insurer for more details.

More pre-travel tips:

  • Always keep a soft copy of important information such as your travel details, passport, travel insurance, etc.
  • Leave a detailed itinerary and your travel insurance with a family member or friend
  • Take a time-stamped picture of the belongings in your luggage/baggage in case of baggage loss or delay
  • When purchasing travel insurance for family travel, it may be good to compare prices of individual, family and group plans.
  • Note that age will affect the premium and coverage

For more information on travel insurance, read here.

Think you know travel insurance? Think again!

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Here are some frequently asked questions that are seldom answered:

Qn 1. If I am not travelling with my child who is 16 years old, can I buy travel insurance for him?

Ans: For individual travel insurance, the policyholder must be at least 18 years of age. In case of exceptional circumstances, please write into the customer service team of your selected insurer to request a purchase.

Qn 2. What policy can I buy if I am doing around the world (RTW) trip during my sabbatical year?

Ans: You can buy an annual global travel insurance policy that will cover you for the entire year. However, do note that annual policy plans usually have a maximum trip length for each trip taken during the year. For example, Etiqa’s ePROTECT travel insurance annual policy only covers the insured up to 90 days per trip.

Qn 3. I did not seek medical treatment until the third day after I returned from my trip. Am I still eligible for claims?

Ans: Do not wait to see the doctor if you are feeling unwell. To be eligible for claims, most insurers mandate that medical treatment has to be sought and administered within 48 hours of return from overseas. Any medical treatment thereafter will not be covered by your policy.

Qn 4. I forgot to buy travel insurance before I left Singapore. What should I do?

Ans: (Ahem!) please refer to point 1 at the top of this article.

Now that you know all you need about travel insurance, you can travel without a care. Go ahead, book your trip, pick your insurance and go out in the world.

This article first appeared on Etiqa website on 12 July 2018. All information is correct as at the date of publication. For more information, please visit https://www.tiq.com.sg.

Featured Image credit: Felix Rostig | Unsplash

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