We have emphasised on many occasions that travel insurance is not a case of ‘should I or should I not’. Pardon us for our intrusiveness, but it is a case of ‘I must’ in light of your personal safety. For many insurers, each of them offers two to three tiers of plans with incremental benefits. Most people we spoke to settled for the bottom tier plans, with cost savings emerging as the top reason. Some are unaware that there are premium tiers for an even more comprehensive travel insurance. The question we want to address today is, should you look beyond the basics? Is it really enough to cover medical expenses after an overseas accident?
We can’t be sure it will be a resounding yes, until you critically analyse the following circumstances, that is.
Differences in premiums
If you pay close attention, some insurers have mild differences as you go up the tiers. In others, you may get more bang for your buck. Just by topping up a few dollars, you could be looking at double the medical benefits. That is why you should make comparisons at GoBear. With a single click, you can absorb all differences big and small at one glance. For all you know, in your blind loyalty to Insurer A, you could be missing out on Insurer B which offers basic tier benefits similar to A’s top tier ones.
We hope on your end, you are fairly decent at mathematics. Because at the end of the day, you are in charge of your own budget and you would have to decide if the value of the upgrade exceeds the difference in premiums you are shelling out for.
Existing medical conditions
There are two groups of people we are looking at here: those who know they have ongoing health concerns, and those who don’t know they have an underlying condition. Mothers-to-be would fall perfectly into the first group; there is no saying that fetal woes wouldn’t come up to spoil the trip, and an upgrade to your travel insurance plan can bump up benefits related to pregnancy complications.
The walking time bombs, on the other hand, could be any one of us. Yes, we won’t know until tragedy strikes, or when we get a full medical check-up, that is why it is advisable to zoom in on medical evacuations and the claims amount for trip disruptions. Even if the doctor deems you medically unfit to travel, you can file for a claim to recover what you put down for your holiday booking, up to a limit.
Shooting and self-destruct incidents are still being featured in the news. The pattern is clear: no matter where we go, we would still be haunted by the prospect of terrorism. Look out for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ travel advisory notices; certain places are deemed higher risk than the rest and if you are travelling for business, or for the purpose of collecting stories to be told, you should go for an upgrade. Compare travel insurance plans on GoBear to distill the ones with terrorism coverage. Also check under the policy details whether your holiday destination is part of the exclusions list.
Purpose of travel
Travel insurance upgrades can be tier-based, and it can also come in the form of customisable add-ons. If you know you will be exposed to very specific risks, exercise the option for fringe benefits. Such ‘specific risks’ include accidental damage to expensive sports equipment (e.g. gold clubs, skiing gears), injury to pets and overseas car rental damages. So let’s say if you are travelling for sports competitions or you have an irrational aversion to public transport, the add-ons can compensate for replacements and cover the excess for vehicles.
Insurers would do well to introduce a new add-on: Bumper payouts for victims who are manhandled out of overbooked flights.
Recommended travel plan
HL Assurance Basic. The travel insurance comes with a lifestyle component that covers rental car excess, golfing mishaps and home burglary, and the payouts increase as you upgrade. It also covers overbooked flights for S$100 every six hours. Hong Leong Group is having a promotion on travel insurance; single trip plan buyers get 50% discount and S$5 free overseas wifi voucher, and annual plan buyers get 30% discount along with complimentary airport VIP lounge access.
How often do you travel in a year?
Maybe you’ve had enough of the soulless 9-to-6 grind and have decided to cut your teeth as a travel blogger. Or you’re one of those fortunate media persons who get to hop on a junket every two months and exchange words for the good life – albeit for a few days. Bar the professional commitments, you could just be a drifting soul embarking on a long and winding pilgrimage to self-discovery. The common denominator here? All these cases mean you travel disproportionately more than everyone else.
If our math is right, the more you fly, the probability of accidents increases. You need to prevent that with the right travel insurance, that’s for sure. But by purchasing individual single trip travel insurance plans each time you jet off, the premiums are going to snowball.
Let’s say you travel to a different destination 10 times a year and each plan costs S$35, you pay S$350. You probably won’t feel the behind-the-scenes damage because you will be paying as you would an instalment. How do you save on this front, then?
Save yourself the administrative hassle and upgrade to annual travel insurance. Such plans require a lump sum payment, sure, but you could be looking at half the total yearly premium and enjoy the privilege of multi-city coverage. It’s like stepping into a bar to order wine by the glass, when you could have gone for a liquid buffet right from the start to guarantee value-for-money-ness and a morning hangover. Consider this as yet another one of our travel/money hacks for you, frequent fliers.
Here are some other annual travel plans you may compare on gobear.com/sg/travel-insurance: