Travel claims for 'high-impact' events like natural disasters up 85% since 2014: AIG Singapore

Passengers at the departure hall at Changi Airport Terminal.
Passengers at the departure hall at Changi Airport Terminal. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Insurer AIG Singapore reported an 85 per cent increase in travel claims made for high-impact incidents compared to three years ago.

The insurer said the "high-impact" incidents include extreme weather events, medical outbreaks and socio-political volatility, which it predicts will be the top risks for local travellers over the next 12 months.

AIG Singapore said natural disasters were the costliest of the lot with an average claim amount of S$2,610.

"Natural disasters are on the rise with the onset of global warming, while we continue to see more rapid disease outbreaks, such as the Zika virus epidemic in 2016. Both have detrimental effects on travellers - from delayed flights and high medical expenses, to travellers finding themselves stranded thousands of miles away from home," said Mr Ignatius Chng, AIG Singapore's vice-president and head of group personal insurance.

Socio-political risk is also an emerging risk, said the firm.

It said travel insurance claims relating to socio-political volatility have more than doubled in the last three years, where people have had their travel disrupted as a result of events such as coups and terrorist attacks.

Mr Chng highlighted the example of the coup d'état in Burkina Faso in Africa in 2015, where AIG coordinated security specialists to keep track of their clients and their movements.

The firm worked with teams on the ground to make alternative arrangements for policyholders in the face of flight cancellations, roadblocks and outbreaks of violence, successfully assisting 36 individuals to return home safely.

The insurance firm expects a 10 per cent rise in demand for premium travel products offering a greater amount of cover as these trends are likely to continue throughout 2017.

"As Singaporeans continue to be savvy and frequent travellers, their global mobility and increased awareness of travel insurance will see them taking a proactive approach and insuring themselves against unforeseen circumstances," Mr Chng added.