Fret not, your money hasn’t exactly taken flight. Follow the simple 3-step plan laid out here and get back what you’ve paid for your travel insurance.
The last time I travelled was to Hangzhou in December 2019. As usual, I didn’t have to worry about buying travel insurance because our family has always had an annual travel plan in place.
When we renewed it about a year ago, it was a no brainer considering we travel as frequently as once a month.
Then, COVID-19 happened. All our impromptu weekend plans and school holiday getaways are now on indefinite hold. I’m certainly not about to renew or purchase travel insurance anytime soon, what more invest a few hundred dollars in an annual family plan with worldwide coverage.
But what about people who have purchased travel plans (both single and annual) just before the outbreak and consequent lockdown? Is there any recourse for them to seek from insurance companies?
Who buys annual travel insurance?
Annual travel plans cover multiple journeys taken by the policyholder from the date of inception, for up to a year. People who travel often, for either business or leisure (or both), usually find it convenient to own this type of plan.
Family plans usually cover two adult parents and children. Even if a family were to travel only during the gazetted school holidays, it’s worthwhile to invest in an annual family policy versus buying single trip plans that only cover one particular trip for a specified number of days. As a rule of thumb, the cost of an annual plan is about the same as four single trip premiums, with the added bonus of multiple trips within the year covered.
The inconvenience of having to remember to purchase travel insurance for spontaneous long weekend getaways (ah, those good old pre-pandemic days!) to Bali and Phuket have also compelled some people to go for basic annual plans.
Annual plans can be as cheap as $275 for an Individual Worldwide plan from Allied World. Of course, if you looking for higher or specific types of coverage (for example, a Winter sports cover) it would come in the form of an additional rider.
If you’re planning a destination wedding (maybe next year?), it’s also worth springing for an annual plan as you may be making several trips. It can also add a rider for overseas wedding coverage.
You’ve bought travel insurance but can’t travel. Now what?
While insurers are still selling travel insurance, all are no longer giving coverage to trip cancellations and curtailment due to COVID-19, as it is by now a known event. Most insurers indicate a cut-off date after which coverage due to pandemic reasons is no longer covered.
For a policyholder who has purchased a single trip premium after COVID-19, there is no recourse for a refund or cancellation of the premium paid. The plan is still in force though, and is perhaps of some comfort for those who are forced to travel for business or for other important personal reasons.
However, if the policy was purchased before lockdown and border control measures were in place, it is still possible to apply to cancel the plan and obtain a refund. Some of the finer prints to take note of are:
- Although single trip premiums will be refunded fully (for insurers that allow refunds after purchase), your refund for annual travel premiums would likely be pro-rated.
- Most insurers have a minimum number of days before you can cancel and get refunded.
- You may be charged an admin fee for cancellation.
In order to apply for a refund, these are the general steps to bear in mind.
#1: Gather all necessary details
For general insurance, most insurers make it easy for you to quote and buy online. Acceptance is also immediate. You’ll find your certificate of insurance is probably a PDF document sent to your email account. Some insurers may follow up with some paper documents snail-mailed to you.
In any case, make sure you have these policy details ready. You may also wish to download travel advisories, flight cancellation notices, quarantine notices, COVID-19 related announcements and other relevant documents to readily support your case for a refund.
#2: Contact your insurer via email or fill up an online form
Most insurers will require you to formally write in to request a refund, so there is some hoop-jumping involved here. Some insurers have an online portal for correspondence or list an email address for their customer care team. Others don’t, so you would need to contact their hotline to obtain information on how you can submit your written request.
Expect a long wait time before your call is taken because many people will be in the same boat as you. So try not to procrastinate handling this, or else you might miss the eligible timeline for your refund request.
#3: Follow up with the insurer until your refund is processed
Once you have submitted your request in writing, check that you have received some kind of response from the insurer (even an automated one). If you have, you can rest easy knowing that your submission has been recorded and dated. Otherwise, you might want to contact the customer care team again to follow up.
Here are some insurers who offer a refund of single and annual travel insurance plans.
|Insurer||How to apply||Terms and conditions|
|FWD||Fill up a form via their Online Services or please contact FWD at +65-6820-8888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.||As long as you have not made any claims on your travel insurance plan, you can request for cancellation before your trip starts or before the start date of your policy.|
Annual trip: Pro ration applies based on the remaining months of the policy.
Both Single & Annual policies will not be refunded if the premium amount is lesser than $25.
|Aviva||Submit a formal request for cancellation in writing. You can contact Aviva Customer Care at 68279966.||1. A Single Trip plan can only be cancelled before the trip’s start date. So if you have yet to travel, you will be entitled to a refund. |
2. For Annual multi-trip plans, you can cancel the plan within the 14-day free look period without penalty. After that, refunds will be processed at a rate of 80% of premium paid, less a pro-rated amount of the duration for which you have been covered.
3. You won’t be eligible for a refund if you have made a claim on your plan.
|HL Assurance||Submit a request in writing to Contact +65 6702 0202 or email email@example.com||No refund of premium is allowed once the insurance has been effected or after the date/time of your scheduled journey (for Single Trip plans). You can, however, submit a request to cancel your policy upon issuance of any Travel Alert for the planned destination, and if no claim has already been made.|
HL Assurance will return up to 60% of the pro-rata portion of the premium for the unexpired partof the Period of Insurance.
|Allied World||Submit a request in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org call +65 6423 0505||1. Premiums paid for Single Trip Policy are not eligible for refunds. |
2) For Annual Travel Policy, a proportionate amount of the premium for the unexpired period will be returned, minus a charge of S$25 (provided no claims have been paid or are outstanding).
|Sompo||Contact the Sompo Customer Service hotline with your request at 6461 6555 or email@example.com||1. Single Trip premiums are non-refundable once the Certificate of Insurance is issued. This usually happens at time of purchase. |
2. For annual travel insurance, 20% of the annual premium paid is refundable if requested within a month from the date of policy commencement, or 10% within two months. No refund is given if the request is made after two months of policy commencement.
|Tokio Marine||You can call, email or write to the General Insurance team here.||1. For Single Trips, you can request a cancellation of the plan before its commencement date. Your premium will be refunded, less an administrative charge of $25.00, provided you have not made any claims on this policy. You will not be entitled to any refund of premium after the commencement date of the policy. |
2. For Annual Plans, you may cancel this Policy within 3 months from the policy effective date by giving seven (7) days’ written notice (provided no claims are made during the time the policy being in force). You will be refunded 80% of the pro-rated premium for the unexpired period, subject to a minimum premium payment of $25.00. There will be no refund after 3 months from the policy’s effective date.
*This list is non-exhaustive and is correct at the time of writing.
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By Ana Ow
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.