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Hear it from the expert: Tips to consider before buying travel insurance

Mr Derek Teo, executive director of the General Insurance Association (GIA). -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Mr Derek Teo, executive director of the General Insurance Association (GIA). -- PHOTO: ST FILE

When it comes to buying insurance for your travels, there are several options you have to consider, says Mr Derek Teo, the executive director of the General Insurance Association in Singapore

Being avid travellers, Singaporeans are generally aware of the importance of buying insurance for their trips abroad. However, they should also try to match their needs for coverage with a suitable policy when they go overseas.

That’s the view of Mr Derek Teo, executive director of the General Insurance Association (GIA) in Singapore.

He believes there are suitable policies that will suit each traveller here, but consumers have to know what they are seeking in the first place.

It helps, he added, to compare products, and also to think through what is needed personally.

Factors to consider

When buying travel insurance, three factors will come to mind for most travellers – where they are travelling to, adequacy of medical care and safety.

For example, if they are travelling to locations with inadequate medical care, comprehensive medical coverage that includes emergency evacuation through airlifting, may be needed. Such an insurance policy would cover some or all of the costs that are required to bring a traveller back to Singapore for treatment.

Others may want to have overseas accident coverage to defray medical costs, and could also pay out for death or disabilities that may arise, explained Mr Teo. 

Types of coverage

The extensiveness of coverage for travel insurance can vary from lost luggage to defraying medical costs, and even compensation in the event of a travel agency becoming insolvent.

Premiums for insurance do differ and depend on the destination due to the extent of coverage involved, explained Mr Teo.

He has a tip: Buy a policy that has territorial limits, such as for Asia only, instead of worldwide, so you pay lower premiums for what you need.

That being said, travellers should also be aware of what is not covered in a policy, he cautioned. For instance, coverage for Asia may not include countries such as Japan or Korea for insurers, he explained. 

Travellers should note that there is also a form of coverage for the event of a travel agent being unable to deliver a tour package they have bought. Mr Teo added that such coverage can pay for loss of travel deposits which may have been paid far in advance and also if a travel agent becomes insolvent.

What to look out for?

Singaporeans, especially frequent travellers, are generally aware of the types of insurance that best suit their needs and often check in with their regular insurance agent prior to a trip, Mr Teo explained.

It is also important to clarify terms and conditions with respective insurers, such as on items that may be excluded from the policy’s coverage. For example, some policies require a specific number of hours fulfilled for flight delays before a claim can be successfully filed.

With these handy tips for buying the right travel insurance for individual needs, travellers can enjoy their holidays with a greater peace of mind.