Don't take risk of travelling without insurance

With coverage, you can get help abroad when you need it while minimising losses

With the school holidays and festive season just around the corner, many are planning a trip away before the New Year arrives.

Some feel travel insurance is an unnecessary extra cost. But if you have forked out quite a sum for your vacation and you head off without travel cover, your dream holiday could turn into a nightmare should something unexpected happen.

Such circumstances could include falling sick abroad, delayed flights, a last-minute trip cancellation and baggage theft.

All destinations carry some risks, such as cancelled flights, and unseen danger - note the recent quakes in Japan and New Zealand, and the Paris terror attacks last year.

 
 
 

"Even before you leave home, unexpected events can happen - such as your travel agent becoming insolvent," said Mr Ignatius Chng, AIG Asia Pacific's vice-president of personal insurance. "Travellers should protect themselves from being caught unprepared. Being insured well in advance of your trip means you can minimise financial losses, and get help when you need it."

GROWING DEMAND FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE

AIG Singapore has seen a double-digit percentage increase in the purchase of travel insurance over the past two years.

Reasons include greater mobility among Singaporeans, who are travelling overseas more frequently, as well as greater awareness among consumers about the importance of travel insurance for covering unforeseen events and costly medical expenses.

A travel survey by AIG Singapore last year indicated that three in four people here have bought travel insurance. This might look positive, but the survey also found that one in three travellers unnecessarily puts himself at risk while travelling by not getting travel insurance for short overseas holidays, such as trips to Malaysia.

"We also found that 42 per cent of Singaporeans buy travel insurance only when there is a promotion," said Mr Chng.

Mr Derek Low, who is executive vice-president for personal lines at Liberty Insurance, noted that awareness about the need for such insurance has clearly increased, with regular travellers opting for annual policies.

There is also a growing trend, especially among the younger generation or millennials, of making travel insurance purchases online, directly from insurance providers.

Ms Koh Yen Yen, who is chief distribution officer at Sompo Insurance Singapore, noted that Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are the most popular neighbouring destinations for Sompo's TravelJoy policyholders.

It is wise to shop around as benefits and premiums vary across insurers, partly because of discounts during promotional periods. For example, for an eight-day trip to South Korea, the premium for a basic travel plan comes to $75 for AIG, $21.25 for FWD, $50 for Liberty, $30.55 for NTUC Income and $25 for Sompo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 27, 2016, with the headline 'Don't take risk of travelling without insurance'. Print Edition | Subscribe