Travel insurance in Singapore is super-competitive when it comes to pricing.
That’s great for us consumers, but it also means that you shouldn’t always choose the cheapest travel insurance plan you can find. You might end up with a dud if you make your decision based on price alone.
BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE IN SINGAPORE 2019
So… how like that? Unfortunately there’s no way around it – you do have to do the research to find out what each travel insurance plan covers and what it doesn’t.
Here’s a quick look at which insurers you should go to for your needs:
|Best for||Travel insurance provider|
|Cheapest travel insurance||Etiqa, FWD, Aviva|
|Highest medical coverage||Amex, Allianz, Aviva, FWD|
|Adventurous activities||Etiqa Basic, ERGO, FWD|
|Expensive trips||Amex, AIG, FWD First, Etiqa, Aviva|
|Pre-existing medical conditions||NTUC|
|Emergency assistance service||AXA, AIG, Sompo (Japan)|
Want to know more about which specific travel insurance plan you should get?
I’ve reviewed pretty much every travel insurance plan available in Singapore, and here I’ve compiled the best basic travel insurance plans for the everyday Singaporean. Read on to find out which plans are best for each type of traveller.
- Cheapest travel insurance in Singapore
- Best travel insurance for medical coverage
- Best travel insurance for adventurous travellers
- Best travel insurance for expensive trips
- Best travel insurance for pregnancy & pre-existing medical conditions
- Best travel insurance for emergency travel assistance services
CHEAPEST TRAVEL INSURANCE IN SINGAPORE
When it comes to travelling, most of us Singaporeans are pretty happy doing basic s***. Like going to Hong Kong to eat dim sum, going to Bangkok to shop, and going to Japan to take 412,523 photos of cherry blossoms.
Does that make us sheeple? Sure, but who cares.
If you’re travelling around the region and are reasonably confident that nothing weird will happen during your trip, you shouldn’t have to overspend on travel insurance.
These are 3 of the cheapest travel insurance in Singapore that still provide really good coverage. Their basic plans all cost under $25 for a week in ASEAN. Click on the links to read in-depth reviews.
Cost may be your number one concern, but there are a couple of things to look out for before you click “buy”.
Medical & emergency coverage: The standard limit for overseas medical expenses is $200,000 for a basic plan, so make sure your insurance plan covers that amount.
If you’re going somewhere remote with not much of a healthcare infrastructure, make sure your emergency evacuation limit is at least $1mil so you can get evacuated back home for decent medical care.
The $1,000 or $1,500 that the best travel insurance policies offer is a good limit on travel delays, but personally I don’t mind lower as long as there are cheap accommodation options near the airport in case I get stranded. Your mileage may vary.
Ease of purchase and claims: Travel insurance should be as hassle-free as possible. Ideally, it’s something you can purchase online on your phone and claim through a web form with just snapshots of your documents.
Also note that some insurance companies take forever and a day to process your claim, while others are willing to commit to a decent time frame, e.g. 10 working days, for settlement.
BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR MEDICAL COVERAGE
I mentioned above that the typical claim limit for overseas medical coverage on a basic travel insurance plan is $200,000. This amount should be sufficient for most destinations, especially those in Asia.
If you’re travelling to a more expensive place, such as Europe, the US, or even Japan, you might want to look for a travel insurance plan with higher limits – in case you get hit with an astronomical medical bill.
The following travel insurance plans are stronger in terms of overseas medical coverage:
The limits on these payouts are significantly higher than the usual $200,000 – and these are the limits for the cheapest, most basic plans. You can always upgrade to a higher tier plan if you want a super-high limit.
In particular, Allianz Global Assistance Travel Insurance Gold offers the highest limit of all. $10,000,000 is similar to what most insurers offer only at the second tier onwards, so this is a very good deal if you’re looking for high medical coverage without having to pay to “upsize”. There’s an ongoing 40% discount on single-trip plans using promo code sg54ms.
At the same time, look out for the following:
Activity exclusions: There’s no point to having an insurance plan with high medical coverage if the policy does not cover your travel activity. Apart from perceived “risky” activities like skydiving and such, even seemingly innocuous things like marathons, skiing and hot air balloon rides may be excluded.
So, have a think about what activities you might be up to overseas, and make sure it’s not listed in the policy wording under “General Exclusions”. You can even call up the insurer to ask.
Claims procedure: Check what the claim procedure is like for medical bills. Most insurers require you to fork out the cash upfront (ouch) before you can claim it. If the claims process seems to come from the era when policemen wore shorts, prepare to wait quite a long time before you see the money again.
BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR ADVENTUROUS TRAVELLERS
Maybe your holiday isn’t complete until you’ve checked out all the dive sites in the vicinity, done some white water rafting, scaled a mountain or two (without a guide, of course) and seen the surroundings from the vantage point of a parachute.
I’ve definitely done one or two of those things and realised only after the trip that it wasn’t covered by my travel insurance. There’s a wide variation in which adventure activities are covered by the insurer – this is something you cannot go by gut feel alone!
Here are 3 insurers that offer the most YOLO-friendly travel insurance plans – they cover almost everything, except pre-existing conditions:
The plans shortlisted in this section are very lenient, but it doesn’t hurt to double check that your planned activities are not excluded from coverage. Find the policy wording on the website, hit Ctrl+F and type in “exclusions”, and read carefully. Even the best travel insurance policies may exclude your next adrenaline rush.
Also, if you’ve got an exciting trip planned, pay attention to the following elements of the policy.
Overseas medical expenses: If you’re going to a place with good healthcare, chances are it’s also expensive. You’ll want to make sure you have a reasonably high limit for overseas medical expenses – at least $200,000.
Emergency medical evacuation: If you’re going to a place with poor healthcare and would get better treatment back home, make sure that the evacuation limit is high.
How much? You’ll want at least $1 million. Yes it sounds high, but there’s no way to tell how much an air ambulance would actually cost. Some of the best travel insurance plans even have unlimited evacuation for their cheapest tiers, so don’t feel like you need to settle for less.
Emergency assistance services: Ideally, you should buy from an insurance company that’s well-known for its emergency assistance services. Believe it or not, some don’t even have a 24-hour emergency hotline!
BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR EXPENSIVE TRIPS
Many Singaporeans get very hung up on things like travel delay benefits because these are cash payouts rather than reimbursements. i.e. you can “make money” from your travel insurance. But in truth, travel inconvenience benefits aren’t all that important if you’re going on a relatively cheap trip and if you’re only travelling around the region.
However, if you’re going on a blowout trip, like if you’ve saved for an entire year to see the Northern Lights and are bringing along thousands of dollars’ worth of camera equipment, then you’d better make sure you don’t lose all that money!
Here are some of the best travel insurance plans with higher than usual claim limits for trip cancellations and lost/damaged baggage:
- AMEX My VoyageGuard Superior ($20,000 trip cancellation, $8,000 lost baggage)
- AIG Travel Guard Premier ($15,000 trip cancellation, $10,000 lost baggage)
- FWD First ($15,000 trip cancellation, $7,500 lost baggage)
- Etiqa Business ($15,000 trip cancellation, $5,000 lost baggage)
- Aviva travel insurance (can add-on coverage for wedding or adventure activities & gear)
Here’s what you should prioritise when looking for the best travel insurance.
Trip cancellation: You’ll want to get your hard-earned money back if the trip is cancelled or postponed for reasons beyond your control.
A healthy limit would range from $7,500 to $15,000 – adjust depending on how much you expect to spend on flights, accommodation and tours. Also, make sure that terrorism and natural disasters are covered (and to what extent).
Baggage loss/damage: If you’re travelling with expensive items like camera gear, insure your belongings by looking for an overall limit of $5,000 or more if possible. Check the item sublimits to make sure you can claim at least $1,000 for a laptop and $500 per item.
And be sure to hoard your receipts, or you won’t be able to prove your items’ value. Even the best travel insurance policies still require some form of proof for your claims.
Travel & baggage delays: Honestly not really crucial, but it’s nice to have a cash payout to offset the cost of an extra night’s stay especially in a place where accommodation is expensive.
Insurers have been known to be weird about what they will and will not cover, like in this recent case of AIG supposedly not paying out a customer’s claim for a 24-hour flight delay.
BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS
If you’re travelling while pregnant or with a pre-existing medical condition, note that most insurance companies will NOT cover anything that happens as a result of your condition. This means that if you have any medical claims arising from the pregnancy or the health condition, the insurer won’t pay for it.
Your options are pretty limited, but there are a couple of good ones out there. You have the following options:
What should you look out for?
General exclusions & conditions: To check if a policy covers pregnancy or pre-existing medical conditions, find the policy wording on the website, hit Ctrl+F and type in “exclusions”, and read carefully.
Medical & evacuation expenses: Note that conditions may apply. For example, both NTUC and MSIG’s pre-X plans have smaller than usual caps on how much you can claim if it’s for something related to your pre-existing condition. Yes, this is actually the case even though the pre-X plans cost more than “normal” plans!
Emergency assistance services: The service of the insurance company matters more than ever if you have a condition that could get life-threatening, such as asthma or heart disease. Fortunately the brands offering the best travel insurance coverage are reputable ones.
BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE SERVICES
If you’ve ever needed to call the travel insurance emergency hotline number, you might have noticed that it’s the number of a different company. That’s because your travel insurance provider is not always the one providing emergency assistance.
In fact, most insurance providers take care only of financial matters like compensating you for your medical bills. They may take your phone call when you dial the emergency hotline, but when it comes to actually rendering aid and dispatching a rescue team? This part is often handed over to a third-party travel assistance or emergency assistance service provider like ISOS.
That’s why those who are super experienced – i.e. have actually gone through emergencies – are often willing to pay more for certain insurance brands. These are 3 of the best travel insurance plans for emergency assistance:
Apart from AXA and AIG, brands like Allianz and Chubb are also known for their good (and prompt!) emergency assistance. They either run or are closely aligned with travel assistance outfits.
You’ll often have to pay a bit more for these brands though. They are marketed as premium travel insurance and are priced correspondingly.
For Japan trips, Sompo has an interesting GO Japan! Plan which offers an English or Chinese language hotline that you can call while in Japan. Apart from helping you settle any emergencies and make medical appointments, the hotline also handles all kinds of requests from lodging police reports to translating menus.
Planning to get travel insurance for your next trip? Compare all Singapore travel insurance policies by price and coverage first.
This article was first published in MoneySmart .