Buying a travel insurance has always been a necessity but I rarely take time to ponder over it. More often than not, I make my purchases at the last minute (during my ride to the airport). All I wanted was peace of mind and convenience+cost determines the insurer of my choice.
I usually go with Chartis or NTUC Income but insurance plans for my upcoming New Zealand trip seems to be a little trickier. After all, the usual annual travel policy will not be applicable for my 6-month stint while a single-trip policy is pretty pricey for a soon-to-be unemployed dreamer.
That begins my tiny project on identifying the right travel insurance and guess what? By a stroke of luck, I managed to get my travel insurance at 50% discount (YAY!)! Well, the following are what I did and I hope it’s helpful!
1. Knowing Your Priorities
The core criteria for selecting the RIGHT travel insurance lies in the identification of one’s priorities. As the saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. Benefits that appeal to others might not be of top priority for you. An avid golfer might choose that expensive policy for its wide coverage of golf equipments whereas I choose the cheapest policy just to get a peace of mind. Thus, it is always important to know why you want to get a travel insurance and the various priorities that you consider essential. This actually depends largely on your traveller’s profile as well as the type of travel that you might have in mind.
2. Identify Your Travel Profile
I consider myself a leisure traveller (somewhat low-risk since I try to avoid hard-core activities) with minimal commitments (no loans, no children etc.) and prefers to splurge on leisure and entertainment. As most of my vacations tend to be short (maximum 2 weeks) but frequent, an annual multi-trip travel insurance might actually be ideal for me. On the other hand, people with family commitments (e.g. parents and 2 kids) who probably travel only once a year should consider the single-trip family travel insurance. Knowing your travel profile will help you identify priorities that can narrow down the search for a right insurance.
3. Some Common Priorities
Have you identified your travel profile and priorities for the much-needed travel insurance? If you are undecided about what might be of more importance to you. Fret’ not! Here are some of my (and many others) common concerns that you may relate to.
- Emergency Advice / Assistance – It’s a no-brainer but it is very important to get a reliable insurer whom you are able to contact, regardless of time and location.
- Budget – Money might not always buy you safety but it can buy assurance and minimise damages when unforeseen circumstances occur. However, you should note that a low-premium policy does not mean that is of no good.
- Medical Coverage – Overseas medical expenses are usually pricey (especially in US and Japan!). A policy that provides high coverage limit on medical expenses or one that allows the traveller to seek medical treatment upon return from his trip will be ideal.
- Delayed Departure – Time equates money and this happens quite frequently for long-haul travel. A delay might cause you no-show penalty charges for a connecting flight or even 1 night accommodation’s cost. An insurance will come in handy at this time!
- Delayed Baggage – Imagine the inconvenience of a delayed baggage and the extra costs that you might incur if you did not purchase that travel insurance.
- Equipment Coverage – This depends on your equipment of choice (i.e. golf, photography, video, musical equipments etc.). Not all insurance covers special equipments and you might need a tailor-made policy if your equipments are not covered under the pre-existing policies.
- Ease of Claim – This is subjective in spite of all the rules and regulations. After all, claims are handled by different individuals who have their own perception of the “rules”. Nonetheless, a good/reliable insurer (check out the forums!) shall pretty much give you a good idea.
4. Doing Your Research
To me, buying that travel insurance is mostly for the peace of mind. However, who doesn’t want to get the best deal out of it? Google shall be your best friend for this project! A simple search will allow you to identify the travel insurers in your region (if you do not already know). On top of that, you will get to find out existing travel insurance deals from Google Ads! In fact, I just got a good deal (50% discount!) for my upcoming New Zealand trip. Don’t be a grinch, research thoroughly and you shall be duly rewarded!
A SIDE NOTE FOR SINGAPOREANS
[Information as at April 2013]
Joint promotions between lesser-known insurers and banks/credit card companies does not seem to be favoured. After doing my research, i attribute it to the poor word-of-mouth and the lack of sufficient information.
For TravelShield (tie-in promo with DBS/POSB banks) funded by MSIG, there are some negative comments regarding claims in some forums. As for SafeTravel (tie-in promo with Citibank) funded by Ace Travel Insurance, this is a relatively new company that does not have much reviews. TravelWise (tie-in promo with OCBC bank) funded by Great Eastern is simply too pricey for me to research beyond its quote.