Figuring out what car insurance you should get for your overseas road trip can be tricky – until you know what to look for. Here are the insurance plans every driver planning a cross-country trip should consider.
Road trips are a lot of fun (with the right people), but figuring out the insurance requirements can be tricky..
Since it is illegal to drive without proper insurance both in Singapore and overseas, and there are no dedicated car insurance plans specifically for cross-country driving, what should drivers do if they want to take an overseas road trip?
Luckily, securing proper car insurance for road trips and driving overseas is relatively easy. It largely depends on where you will be driving, as whether you’re using your own car or a rental vehicle.
For West Malaysia - Your existing auto insurance policy
First off, if you’re only going up to Malaysia (and a little bit into Thailand) in your own vehicle, you need look no further than your own existing auto insurance policy.
That’s because several auto insurance policies sold in Singapore also cover you when driving in West Malaysia, and up to 80 km from the border into Thailand.
So, if you’re planning to do a road trip in this region, you simply need to verify that your auto policy has this clause. If it does, you’ll enjoy the same benefits and coverage in Malaysia as in Singapore.
Because having your car break down or getting into an accident in Malaysia can leave you at a loss as to where to get help, car insurance plans that offer dedicated roadside assistance through a local partner may be preferable for the added convenience they provide.
That said, it is reasonable to expect that your insurer would be able to render some form of assistance should you require it in a geographical area that is covered under your policy.
As a general rule, the more comprehensive and broad your auto insurance plan, the better protected you will be on your Malaysian road trip. However, it may be worthwhile to have a reasonably high third-party liability cover, in case of property damage or bodily injury.
For other territories - Rental car insurance
For road trips taken in territories other than Malaysia and Singapore using a rental car, you’ll need to purchase rental car insurance. This usually comes bundled with the rental vehicle and is provided by the rental agency.
It is important to check the extent of benefits and coverage of the rental car insurance policy, taking note of any areas that may be lacking or excluded. It is also worth bearing in mind that auto insurance policies and standards differ from country to country. Thus, you should not take for granted that you will enjoy similar levels of coverage as with your regular car insurance plan.
Especially, be vigilant if the policy comes with high excess, deductibles or co-pay, which could stick you with a large bill should an accident take place.
Check to see if any excess waivers are offered – these will save you from having to pay the excess in the event of collisions or should the vehicle become lost.
Another option is to sign up for a separate rental car policy on your own, instead of going with the one offered by your rental agency. Providers such as RentalCover.com may be able to offer alternative policies with comparable coverage for your rental car at a lower premium.
In any case, it doesn’t hurt to shop around for the best plan you can get – in both coverage and cost.
For filling in the gaps - Travel insurance
Ok, so you can stick with your regular car insurance plan in West Malaysia, or rely on rental car insurance in other territories or when driving a rental. So that means you’re good to go, right?
Well before you zoom off, consider that your car insurance plan alone may not constitute a full suite of protection. For instance, third-party only plans, which are the barest minimum required in Singapore, do not offer protection against fire or theft. And, it also doesn't have personal accident benefits or medical coverage.
Even if your car insurance plan includes personal accident and overseas medical benefits, the cover may be insufficient, or may not extend to your family members or friends who may be riding with you.
Also, since most people do not drive around in Singapore with luggage in tow, your car insurance policy likely only provides limited cover for personal belongings, if at all.
As such, it is helpful to purchase a separate travel insurance policy to fill in any such gaps. A travel insurance policy can be used to cover your personal belongings and luggage. It can also offer useful benefits for other events that might happen during your road trip, such as minor illness and trip disruptions or cancellation.
Car insurance and travel insurance may offer overlapping benefits, but this shouldn’t mean you should choose one over the other. Besides, travel insurance is generally quite affordable for the level of benefits it provides.
Pairing up car insurance and travel insurance is an optimal way to gain a full range of necessary cover for you and your family and friends while on your road trip.
Remember, it’s always better to have insurance and not need it, instead of needing insurance, but not having it.
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