Travel insurance isn't just about what happens to you while you're overseas – it can also be used to cover your home, your rental car, and your medical expenses back home.
What does travel insurance cover? What pops into your mind when you see this question? Maybe you thought of overseas injuries, lost luggage, delayed flights, and flight cancellations. Since travel insurance is much cheaper compared to other forms of insurance, it seems to make sense that its coverage would be limited to only these travel-related items.
But travel insurance can and does cover so much more than that. Here are 5 surprising things you might not have realised travel insurance can cover.
1. The contents of your home
Picture this. You’ve just returned home from a wonderful vacation. As you go to unlock your front door you notice it’s already ajar. Something’s wrong.
While this sounds like a scene from a movie, it can and does happen, and is a nightmare scenario for vacationers who have no choice but to leave their home empty while away. Although this might not seem very travel-related, travel insurance can still cover you. Some travel insurance plans insure the contents of your home against fire or burglary, should it happen while you are overseas.
For example, FWD’s travel insurance policies protect your home contents from fire and theft for up to S$6,000 while you’re away, while MSIG’s higher-tier Elite and Premier Plans cover up to S$10,000 and S$15,000 respectively. Now that’s peace of mind.
2. Follow-up medical treatment back in Singapore
You don’t have to be grievously injured and require emergency medical evacuation to make use of your travel insurance medical coverage. Most travel insurances cover treatments both abroad and in Singapore, whether the latter is a follow-up or because your symptoms have only appeared after landing. Be sure to check the time limit for claims, though – Etiqa states that policyholders need to seek medical treatment within 48 hours of return to Singapore. Be sure to let the clinic know that you’re covered by travel insurance.
Keep in mind that most standard medical insurance plans won’t include overseas coverage. This reason alone makes travel insurance something every traveller should seriously consider. If you aren’t willing to take any chances when you’re in Singapore, why would you leave yourself exposed while overseas?
3. Credit card fraud
Pickpockets flock to popular tourist destinations. Even in cities where you don’t have to worry about violent crime, pickpocketing can still flourish. If you are overseas and get your wallet swiped, it might be hours before you even realise it’s gone. By that time, the criminals may have already racked up thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases on your card. What’s more, credit card theft is getting increasingly sophisticated, with criminals using contactless methods to steal personal and card information.
In an ideal world, a quick phone call to your bank should be all you need to sort it out. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and for cases where your you can’t get the charges reversed, travel insurance can protect you. Keep in mind that this isn’t part of standard travel insurance plans, but most premium ones should offer this extended coverage. Be sure to check for any available riders, especially when you’re travelling to countries that present a higher risk of credit card fraud or theft.
4. Airline miles and points
What if you paid for your flight using frequent flyer miles or for your hotel using points and your trip got postponed or cancelled? Are you still covered by travel insurance? The answer is: generally, no. But that doesn't mean it can be done.
Standard travel insurance plans don’t cover redemption points, but some do. To see which ones, check out our detailed article on this entire topic here or our review of the Amex My VoyageGuard. So if you know you are going to redeem points or miles for an upcoming trip, make sure you arrange the proper coverage.
5. Damage to your rental vehicle
Whenever you rent a car overseas, you’re always given a choice whether to tack on basic or comprehensive rental insurance. These options, if unplanned for in your budget, can easily cause you to overshoot your expenses, especially if you’re renting for longer periods of time. This can tempt you to simply skip the insurance, but is that really the smart thing to do?
Sure, you might be a superb driver, but driving on unfamiliar foreign roads always increases your risk. Driving skill is also irrelevant in many cases – you can be calmly waiting at a traffic light and still get into an accident. And if you know you’re not the best driver, well, all the more reason to stay protected.
Do keep in mind that rental vehicle coverage is typically only provided in the more premium travel insurance plans. And like car insurance, there is also an excess or deductible, which is the amount you would need to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance kicks in. MSIG offers rental vehicle excess coverage of up to S$1,500 under its top-tier Premier Plan.
Travel insurance is versatile and comprehensive, and can protect you against a myriad of unforeseen circumstances. Here at SingSaver, we believe that the more people realise just how much travel insurance can cover, the less they would hesitate in getting it.
Of course, there are so many travel insurance plans out there. So, when it comes time to get a plan of your own, compare and apply for the best travel insurance plans that fit your needs.
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By Ian Lee
Ian is a former investment banker turned freelance finance writer. He specialises in creating versatile finance content for the attention economy, ranging from personal finance and investing to fintech and cryptocurrencies.