5 Best Ways To Shop for Travel Insurance

Ana Ow

Ana Ow

Last updated 23 June, 2020

Time-saving ways to buy yourself better peace of mind when you have to traverse the pandemic wrought world.

With phase 2 in place, almost all sectors are back in business. This includes travel, especially essential trips for business continuity as well as for medical and compassionate needs. Leisure travel may take a while to rejuvenate, as people slowly regain confidence in airlines and hotels.

Although travelling may never look and feel like how it used to—what with medical clearance, masks and safe distancing measures—there will still be a place for family vacations, couple trips and solo getaways. What is certain is that protecting yourself with travel insurance has become even more essential.

Whether you’re scheduled to travel for business in the coming months, or are booking that trip for the start of 2021, it doesn’t hurt to start shopping around to compare price points, promos and deals. 

Here are 5 ways you can get hold of the best travel insurance for your unique needs (some are absolutely free of charge!).

#1: Online aggregators

Online aggregators are websites like ahem, SingSaver, which identify relevant products on the market and inspect them for price and benefits comparison. Such aggregators, as its name suggests, consolidate everything at a glance and help you save time hunting down individual products. They work closely with insurers and banks to bring the best deals to readers.

This is instrumental for people who are not overly familiar with travel insurance, and don’t know what features they should be paying more attention to. Or, they may have specific needs that are only covered by some plans and not others.

By shopping for a travel insurance plan via an online aggregator, you get the convenience of a thorough analysis of many products that are on the market so that you can quickly zero in on the one that works for you, be it according to budget, needs, best value or special offer

The only downside is that the product comparisons may not be an exhaustive list. There are many more insurers and products out there that might fly under the radar. However, there would’ve still been a good spread of insurers already covered for your basic research, with all the details you need at your fingertips, such as price points, coverage limits, a pros-and-cons breakdown and the best part: exclusive promotions and discounts. 

#2: Credit cards

Complimentary travel insurance is a pretty common benefit offered by many credit cards. All you need to do is to charge your airfare or accommodation directly to the card. There are different terms and conditions regarding free travel coverage, depending on the type of card you have. Coverage may also differ and are subjected to limits.

Some credit cards, like the UOB PRVI Miles card, doesn’t state cover for common risks such as baggage loss, delays or trip cancellations. That could mean that such coverage will be insufficient for your basic travel insurance needs. It might be wise to treat this type of travel insurance coverage as a bonus to a more comprehensive plan that you should also have in place.

However, there are some credit cards that offer pretty decent travel insurance coverage, like Citibank’s PremierMiles VISA card and the DBS Altitude Visa Signature card. Both offer up to $1 million death cover for the Principle Cardholder and spouse. Children are covered up to $50,000 for PremierMiles and $250,000 for Altitude. 

PremierMiles’ AIG underwritten plan also offers medical and accidental dental expenses in addition to compensation for all the basic travel woes: baggage loss or delay, flight delay, trip cancellation or interruption. Altitude offers terrorism and disappearance extensions (beyond the duration of your trip if affected), but do note that if you redeem air miles for your trip, your free travel insurance plan will not be in force.

#3: Airlines and hotels

You might have seen a little popup window that appears right before you proceed to pay for your online travel booking. It used to be something that you’d only encounter when booking budget flights, but full service carriers soon followed suit and began offering similar plans before checkout.

I can imagine that in the pre-COVID days, people would shut down this pesky window. Now, most of us might think twice; adding (a usually affordable) travel insurance alongside your main booking kills two birds with one click. Singapore Airlines Travel Guard is only $25 per person or $59 per travel party. At Jetstar, if you purchase travel insurance and are travelling with an infant under the age of 2 years old, they’re covered free of charge!

Most of the plans airlines offer also include change of travel dates or full trip cancellations. This sort of flexibility is perhaps what’s most needed for post-pandemic travel in order to regain consumer confidence.

But the type of travel insurance offered by airlines may not have the comprehensive coverage or higher limits that you might require. Accidental death coverage tends to be on the low side of between $35,000 and $100,000, using Jetstar Asia’s travel insurance policy as an example. 

Your trip might also require specific travel coverage excluded from the policy, like a destination wedding or a winter sports holiday.

#4: Travel agents

It’s almost unheard of in our smartphone era to arrange a holiday via travel agents, but you’ll still find their services plying large group settings such as corporate travel or travel fairs. They usually offer a single all-in price that covers airfare, accommodation, sightseeing, excursions, selected meals and yes, group travel insurance.

While this may have an appeal because of convenience, a group travel coverage is not as customised as an individual policy, much like your company’s group term life plan. There are also caps on the insurable amount, depending on the group size. 

You should also remember that as a middleman, the travel agent makes money out of everything that they recommend, from hotels and tourist sights to travel insurance plans too. So they would be pushing high commission travel insurance products that may not be customised to your individual needs—say, a specific medical condition that is excluded.

So if you’re going on a company incentive trip and travel insurance is included for the group, it is best that you take it as a ‘free gift’.

#5: Buy direct

Last but not least, you can always buy travel insurance directly from any insurer. The good thing is that you know it’ll be a wholesome standalone plan as compared to a group one purchased wholesale by a partner vendor. You would also be liaising directly with the insurer’s customer care team and not a middleman if something goes wrong.

Buying general insurance online on most insurers’ platforms is an efficient and user-friendly experience. In fact, I’ve done so on a few occasions while on the way to the airport. Plus, if you already own several plans from a preferred insurer, you may get a loyalty discount that saves you money.

One caveat: do a double take on their travel insurance offering and check that you don’t have any needs that are excluded by the plan. This is especially so if you have preexisting medical conditions; for example, if you’re pregnant, Singlife’s travel insurance will cover you but not Tokio Marine’s.

Read these next:
Free Virtual Travel Destinations You’d Want To Actually Visit After COVID-19
Will My Travel Insurance Cover Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Travel Insurance Promotions and Discounts
From Travel Insurance to Flight Hygiene: 5 Questions About Post-COVID-19 Travel
How To Cancel Your Travel Insurance Plan And Get a Refund On Premiums

Ana has been a travel writer for various news outlets since 2007 and has a passion for crossing things off her bucket list (tiger safari in India, checked; meeting with the Dalai Lama in Ladakh, checked; Northern Lights sighting in Norway, checked thrice). She loves collecting visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites (preferably with her husband and two children) and is obsessed with Disney parks and cruises.