Much to our delight, air travel is finally re-opening around the globe. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and you should consider getting COVID-19 travel insurance coverage if you are planning to travel soon. Read Eric’s story to find out why he wishes he had done this.
Years of isolation, social distancing, and masking up have increased our desire for the ‘good old days’ before the pandemic – the days when we could sit anywhere, eat anywhere, and travel anywhere with anyone. For a while it seemed like holiday travel was a thing of the past.
With COVID-19 winding down and vaccinations ramping up, Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) were established to allow quarantine-free travel. Thousands of Singaporeans like Eric, a 28-year-old marketing executive, quickly snagged air tickets to dream destinations.
Unfortunately for Eric (who wishes to keep his real name anonymous), his holiday became more stressful and expensive than expected because he didn’t have travel insurance.
A holiday that’s nearly two years in the making
Eric jumped for joy when VTL flights were announced in October 2021; there was finally an opportunity to escape the confines of his home! For nearly two years, his room had doubled as his home office. He no longer has to spend his ‘leave’ either staying at home or taking the occasional staycation.
“I booked tickets for a flight to the United States as soon as I could. It had been on the top of my bucket list ever since, so I was dead set on visiting. I mean, you only live once, right?” says Eric.
His flight to Los Angeles was in late December 2021. He had two months to prepare for the trip, in which he renewed his passport and got all his VTL documentation in order.
Unfortunately, he missed one important thing – travel insurance.
“I skipped out on travel insurance maybe because I work in marketing and my mind just tunes out any sales messages I see. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had any bad travel experiences, not even lost or delayed luggage. I don’t know, it could be all those things,” states Eric.
No guarantees that people abroad follow safety protocols
The flight to the United States had been uneventful other than the long lines for VTL document verification at both Singapore and Los Angeles. His luggage arrived without incident. He was able to rent a car and drive to his lodging without incident.
What followed were three relaxing weeks of scenic destinations, renowned eateries, and theme parks. His Instagram and TikTok accounts were working overtime to document his every stop. However, there were a few things that concerned him throughout his holiday in California.
“I visited places I had seen in movies, and ate at places I had read about in reviews or seen on YouTube videos. I also got to see Disneyland and Universal Studios, which were awesome. But I was a bit freaked out, too, you know?” remembers Eric.
“There were a lot of people who didn’t wear masks or practice proper hygiene like using hand sanitisers. It’s not like Singapore, where everyone follows the rules and takes proper precautions. There were so many times when I would see people coughing, touching railings, or not social distancing.”
Despite the risks, Eric did his best to prevent catching COVID-19 by following the best health practices.
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From outbound to isolation-bound
The day before he was scheduled to fly back to Singapore, Eric went to Los Angeles International Airport for his polymerase chain reaction (PCR) pre-departure test.
“I can remember feeling good that day as I went to the airport. The sun was shining, and I felt like I had experienced almost everything I wanted to do during my holiday. I made it to my PCR test appointment and was told to wait for my results within an hour.
“I went back to my lodging and started to do some pre-packing for my flight back home. That’s when I got the news that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I spent the next few hours calling and emailing everyone from the airline, my family, and my company to tell them the news and get advice.
“I also needed to extend my stay for another 10 days since that was the isolation requirement period at the time,” remembers Eric.
During his isolation period, Eric did not experience any COVID-19 symptoms. He spent his days ordering Uber Eats, watching YouTube, playing online games, and chatting with loved ones.
After the isolation period, he tested negative for COVID-19. He was ready to fly home.
Going home with lighter pockets
The cost of skipping travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage was substantial. Lodging, food deliveries, and flight rescheduling cost him more than S$3,000.
While Eric was happy to be flying home, he was also exhausted from spending more than a week in isolation on a holiday that was supposed to escape it. It was an expensive lesson to learn, but he realised that it could have been much worse.
“One thing is for sure – I’m not going to skip travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage on my next holiday. I’m just happy that I didn’t get sick and need any sort of medical care. I can only imagine how expensive it would have been!
“This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. If I can help others avoid the same mistake, then at least something good has come out of this experience,” says Eric.
Unlike the early days of VTL flights, there are now plenty of travel insurance options with COVID-19 coverage to choose from. If you are planning on taking a VTL flight soon, be sure to check the Best Travel Insurance Plans With COVID-19 Coverage or compare travel insurance plans below to find the right policy for your needs