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Driving to Malaysia – Do I need travel insurance, car insurance, or both?

Learn the differences between the two types of insurance cover before going on a road trip.

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If you’re planning to drive to Malaysia for work or vacation, you’ll probably wonder whether you need travel insurance, especially if you already have a comprehensive car insurance policy. Car insurance covers beyond Singapore, up to West Malaysia and South Thailand (within 80km of its border from West Malaysia).

While there may be some overlaps in coverage (e.g. theft of personal belongings in the car, medical expenses, and personal accident), travel insurance and car insurance are actually very different. It is thus important to understand the coverage provided by each type of policy and weigh the pros and cons of paying for two separate insurance.

Overseas car insurance coverage

Let’s be clear – it’s mandatory for car owners to have car insurance in Singapore.

However, the extent of coverage can differ – from a third-party only, to a third-party with fire and theft cover, to a comprehensive plan that includes medical and personal accident coverage.

Nevertheless, you’ll get insurance cover for your car for all the plans as long as you drive within the insured geographical region.

Compare car insurance

1 - 16 of 31
Name Product Accidental Damage Roadside Assistance New Car Replacement Choice of Repairer Guarantee on Repairs
Tiq Comprehensive Car Insurance
Yes
Optional
No
Yes
9 months repair warranty​
Get 20% off and up to $200 cashback using promo code 'SUMMER22'. Plus, win prizes worth up to $5,000 such as Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Nintendo Switch Gen 2 Console, Nespresso Vertuo Plus and more. T&Cs apply. Ends 15 Aug 2022.
Lucky draw chances are stackable. I.e. if a customer buys Private car insurance + Tiq travel = 2 chances.
Budget Direct Insurance Comprehensive Car  Insurance
Yes
Optional
Yes
Optional
12-months repair guarantee at authorised workshops.
Receive $20 in shopping vouchers when you refer a friend. Your friends will each get 5% off any policy they purchase. T&Cs apply.
Get an additional 5% off by using Affinity ID 'FDRSAVE'.
FWD Comprehensive Cover Car Insurance
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Repairs at FWD’s premium workshops, extended workmanship guarantee until your car turns 10
Get 30% discount when you purchase a comprehensive plan using the promo code: FINCAR30. Ends 8 August 2022. T&Cs apply.
98.9% of Car insurance claims approved. Lifetime 50% NCD Guarantee.
Direct Asia Comprehensive Cover Car Insurance
Yes
Optional
Yes
Optional
Lifetime repair guarantee
Sign up for a new car insurance and receive $100 eCapitaVoucher [Promo code: MYCAR100]. T&Cs apply.
MSIG Private Motor MotorMax Plus Car Insurance
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
N/A
Enjoy $150 e-shopping voucher + 25% discount off services from Klars. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Aug 2022.
Income Drivo Premium Car Insurance
Yes
Optional
No
Yes
N/A
Get unlimited third party liability and unlimited windscreen cover. Plus, choose your preferred workshop for repairs or maintenance.
Allianz Motor Protect Comprehensive
Allianz Motor Protect Comprehensive
Yes
Yes
Yes
Optional
Lifetime warranty on repairs (If repaired at an authorised workshop).
RentalCover.com Rental Car Insurance
Yes
Yes
No
No
N/A
MSIG Private Motor MotorMax Car Insurance
Yes
Yes
No
No
N/A
Enjoy $100 e-shopping voucher + 25% discount off services from Klars. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Aug 2022.
Income Drivo Classic Car Insurance
Yes
Optional
No
No
N/A
Unlimited third party liability, up to S$5 million in damages to third party property, up to S$1,000 in medical expenses.
Tiq Third Party Fire and Theft Car Insurance
Yes
Optional
No
Yes
9 months repair warranty​
Get 20% off and up to $200 cashback using promo code 'SUMMER22'. Plus, win prizes worth up to $5,000 such as Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Nintendo Switch Gen 2 Console, Nespresso Vertuo Plus and more. T&Cs apply. Ends 15 Aug 2022.
Lucky draw chances are stackable. I.e. if a customer buys Private car insurance + Tiq travel = 2 chances.
Budget Direct Insurance Third Party Fire and Theft Car Insurance
Third party fire and theft only
Optional
No
Optional
12-months repair guarantee at authorised workshops.
Loss or damages to your car by fire or theft - up to your car's market value. Plus, unlimited cover for injury or death to others.
Direct Asia Third Party Fire and Theft Cover Car Insurance
Third party fire and theft only
Optional
No
Optional
Lifetime repair guarantee
Sign up for a new car insurance and receive $50 eCapitaVoucher [Promo code: MYCAR50]. T&Cs apply.
Allianz Motor Protect Third-Party Fire And Theft Only
Allianz Motor Protect Third-Party Fire And Theft Only
Third party fire and theft only
No
No
No
Not covered
Tiq Third Party Only Car Insurance
Yes
No
No
Yes
9 months repair warranty​
Get 20% off and up to $200 cashback using promo code 'SUMMER22'. Plus, win prizes worth up to $5,000 such as Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Nintendo Switch Gen 2 Console, Nespresso Vertuo Plus and more. T&Cs apply. Ends 15 Aug 2022.
Lucky draw chances are stackable. I.e. if a customer buys Private car insurance + Tiq travel = 2 chances.
Budget Direct Insurance Third Party Only Car Insurance
Third party only
Optional
No
No
12-months repair guarantee at authorised workshops.
Receive $20 in shopping vouchers when you refer a friend. Your friends will each get 5% off any policy they purchase. T&Cs apply.
Get an additional 5% off by using Affinity ID 'FDRSAVE'.
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What are the key cover benefits that you should look out for?

Take a look at some of the most important coverage your car insurance should offer before driving to Malaysia:

Loss or damage to your car

Car accident damage

In an accident, your car will be damaged and will require repairs. That’s where your car insurance cover can help to offset the repair or even replacement costs. Take note as to whether your car insurance policy requires that you go to one of the insurer’s partnered or authorised workshops.

For instance, with FWD car insurance, you’ll have to get the ‘Preferred Workshop’ add-on if you want to be covered for repairs made at car workshops that are not listed on FWD’s Premium Workshops.


Towing service

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A minor car accident might require a quick fix at a local workshop, and there are plenty of them in Malaysia – these will not be covered as they’re not on the insurer’s list of authorised workshops. If you get into a severe accident, one where you might not even be able to drive it back safely, that’s when the towing cover will come into play.

Sometimes, it’s not within your control when your car breaks down – it could be a dead battery or engine. No accidents, but you’ll still require a towing service back to Singapore, which will cost at least $150.


Medical expenses and personal accident

Ambulance

This cover only applies if you get injured or hospitalised due to a car incident.

Medical expenses will cover the bills to the hospital while personal accident cover will compensate you if you suffer disabilities as a result of the accident overseas. Personal accident cover will issue a payout if you suffer from a disability (e.g. the loss of use of your limbs, eyes, or death) as a result of the accident.


Theft or damage of personal belongings

Car shattered glass

It’s never a good idea to leave your personal belongings in the car regardless of where you are. In Malaysia, thieves might even smash your windows to take the valuables inside, although that’s less likely to happen in Singapore with surveillance cameras all around.

If your items get stolen or damaged, car insurance cover will compensate up to the stated limits, but only if you’ve taken all preventive measures and lodged a police report.

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Travel insurance coverage for driving into Malaysia

Does that then mean travel insurance is irrelevant? Considering that you’ll not be taking a flight, there won’t be baggage and flight delays. So do you still need travel insurance?

Medical and personal accident coverage

Leg injury

One important point to note is that you will still need your travel insurance for the medical and personal accident cover. This is especially so if you have a basic car insurance that is third-party only, or third-party with fire and theft cover.

Also, if you get hurt while on the streets and not because of a car incident, your car insurance will not offer any compensation – but your travel insurance will.


Rental car excess

Car coverage

Some people choose to drive to Malaysia and park their cars at the hotel for safety reasons — then rent a cheap local car to drive around since Singapore cars are often highly targeted.

You could be hit with significant expenses if you meet with an unfortunate accident while driving a rental vehicle. Damage costs aside, you may also incur:

  • Penalty/administrative fees. Rental car companies regularly charge administrative fees related to accident events, or a penalty of as much as $50 per day for loss of income to the company.
  • Loss of value to the vehicle. Some rental car companies require that renters cover the ‘loss of value’ that could rack up thousands of dollars to their vehicle after the accident damage has been repaired.

Other relevant coverage

Flight delay

There are many other inconveniences that can happen when you travel that are not covered by your car insurance. For example:

  • Emergency evacuation back to Singapore. Be it for safety, medical reasons or even a severe accident that prevents you from driving back.
  • Theft of personal belongings. Incidents that occur in the streets or other places not involving the car.
  • Cancellation of your accommodation. You may have to seek alternative lodging due to strikes or extreme weather. Last-minute accommodation can be costly and travel insurance payout can offset the cost.

Travel insurance covers much more than just flight and baggage delays. Also, considering that car insurance is already paid for, it should be considered a sunk cost.

Guide to travel insurance

Compare travel insurance

1 - 11 of 20
Name Product Medical Cover Cancellation Cover Travel Delay With COVID-19 Coverage?
Direct Asia Single Trip Plan
Direct Asia Single Trip Plan
Up to $1,250,000
Up to $37,500
Up to $3,750
Optional
Get 40% discount when you purchase either Single or Annual Travel Insurance plan. T&Cs apply.
Starr TraveLead Travel Insurance - Single Trip
Up to $1,000,000
Up to $15,000
Up to $800
Yes
Includes coverage of up to $100,000 for Overseas COVID-19 related medical expenses and up to $1,000 for COVID-19 Trip related cancellation/curtailment.
Enjoy 35% off for all destinations (Code: FRVTL35).
FWD Premium Travel Insurance
Up to $200,000
Up to $18,750
$300
Optional
Get 20% discount using promo code FINTRIP20 when you purchase either Single or Annual Travel Insurance plan. T&Cs apply. Ends 8 Aug 2022.
Allianz Single Trip Travel Insurance
Up to $1,000,000
Up to $15,000
Up to $2,000
Yes
Receive 10% off on all policies using promo code 'TRAVEL10'. T&Cs apply.
Benefits include COVID-19 coverage, Pandemic & Epidemic cover, Assistance services, Cruise trip, sport equipment & money replacement cover plus unlimited medical cover all with Platinum plan.
MSIG TravelEasy Standard
Up to $800,000
Up to $12,500
Up to $1,000
Yes
Enjoy 57% off single trip plans and 30% off annual trip plans. T&Cs apply. Valid until 9 Aug 2022.
Includes COVID-19 coverage to all Single Trip and Annual plans with no additional premium. T&Cs apply.
Tiq Travel Insurance
Up to $1,000,000
Up to $10,000
Up to $500
Optional
Enjoy up to 40% off Single Trip plan using promo code 'SUMMER22'. Plus, win prizes worth up to $5,000 such as Apple iPhone 13 Pro, Nintendo Switch Gen 2 Console, Nespresso Vertuo Plus and more. T&Cs apply. Ends 15 Aug 2022.
Lucky draw chances are stackable i.e. if a customer buys private car insurance + Tiq travel = 2 chances.
Income Standard Plan Travel Insurance
Up to $3,000,000
Up to $45,000
Up to $4,000
Yes
A travel insurance plan with a standard array of benefits, ranging from medical and personal accident to trip inconvenience benefits such as trip cancellation, flight delays and baggage loss.
Budget Direct Insurance Basic Cover
Up to $50,000
N/A
N/A
No
Starr TraveLead Travel Insurance - Annual
Up to $1,000,000
Up to $15,000
Up to $800
Yes
Includes coverage of up to $100,000 for Overseas COVID-19 related medical expenses and up to $1,000 for COVID-19 Trip related cancellation/curtailment.
Enjoy 35% off for all destinations (Code: FRVTL35).
FWD First Travel Insurance
Up to $1,000,000
Up to $37,500
Up to $1,000
Optional
Get 20% discount using promo code FINTRIP20 when you purchase either Single or Annual Travel Insurance plan. T&Cs apply. Ends 8 Aug 2022.
Allianz Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance
Up to $1,000,000
Up to $15,000
Up to $2,000
Yes
Receive 10% off on all policies using promo code 'TRAVEL10'. T&Cs apply.
Benefits include COVID-19 coverage, Pandemic & Epidemic cover, Assistance services, Cruise trip, sport equipment & money replacement cover plus unlimited medical cover all with Platinum plan.
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What if you're driving a car that's not yours?

Maybe it’s your dad’s or your family car, and they’re cool with you driving it to Malaysia. But will you be covered?

The tricky thing about car insurance lies with who are the insured drivers? For most cases, if the insured person is driving the car that got into an incident, the insurance cover is pretty straightforward.

The difference comes when you’re driving a car that’s not yours. There’ll be a different excess amount depending on insurers, and the age of the driver.

For example, FWD covers both the insured person and an “authorised driver” who is any person holding a valid driving licence class and whom was given permission by the insured person to drive the car. There will however be an excess if the authorised driver is younger than 27 years old. Etiqa car insurance similarly covers for any name person but has an excess of $2,000 if the driver is younger than 24, older than 75, or has less than 2 years of driving experience.

Basically, you’ll be covered if you have the insured person’s permission to drive the car, but there may be additional excess if you were to get into an accident.

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Bottom line: Why get two types of insurance?

Travel insurance covers travel accidents and incidents arising from you being in a foreign country. Car insurance covers for when you’re driving while overseas, and if something happens to your car. You cannot really decide to get one over another, because you never know when an accident will hit and how it’ll happen.

Similarly, some people might feel that if they have personal accident coverage, then they’ll not need travel insurance. While that is somewhat true, since your personal accident coverage does cover medical expenses arising from accidents while overseas, there are many other inconveniences that can happen while you’re abroad that are not covered by your personal accident policy.

If you get into an accident on the Malaysian roads, that’s when your car insurance matters. You might have your car sent straight back to Singapore, or you might be delayed because you have to fix a tire or get a simple repair. What happens if you cannot get to your accommodation in time because of the delay? That’s when travel insurance comes into play.

If your car is broken into and you lose valuables (which you should not leave in the car in the first place), this will be covered under car insurance. But if you get robbed while walking towards your car, that’s where travel insurance comes into play.

Just as you cannot guarantee or predict accidents, you cannot choose one type of coverage over another. Hence, if you’re planning to drive to Malaysia, the best bet is to make sure you have a comprehensive car insurance policy AND a travel insurance plan.

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