Which travel insurance policies provide COVID-19 coverage?

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If travel insurance was a good idea pre-COVID, it's practically essential now. Here's the policies with COVID-19 coverage, and what to look out for.

With the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) agreements paving the way for two-way quarantine-free travel, stir-crazy Singaporeans are dusting off their passports and making up for lost time. 

Photo: Changi Airport

But travel in a post-COVID world is fraught with uncertainty, and if travel insurance was a good idea pre-COVID, it’s practically essential now. In fact, it’s literally essential for certain VTL countries like Malaysia and South Korea, which require foreigners to purchase travel insurance with COVID-19 medical expense coverage as a condition of entry. 

Fortunately, the vast majority of travel insurers now provide COVID-19 coverage, either integrated into the main policy or as an add-on rider. It’s not going to burn a hole in your pocket either- with the various ongoing promotions, coverage can be had for less than S$10 per day.

PolicyDestinationDurationCost
(Per day)
Sompo Travel (COVID-19) InsuranceUSA14 daysS$161
(S$11.50)
DBS TravellerShieldGermany7 daysS$68.40
(S$9.77)
AXA SmartTravellerAustralia8 daysS$75.52
(S$9.44)
AIG Travel GuardMalaysia4 daysS$30
(S$7.50)
Aviva Travel InsuranceSouth Korea5 daysS$24.66
(S$4.93)
Illustrative pricing for cheapest plan based on discounts available at time of publishing

What do I need to be covered for?

Medical Expenses

Assuming you’re vaccinated and in otherwise good health, any COVID-19 infection should be fairly mild. 

However, it’s still important to have coverage for COVID-19 medical expenses, whether it’s as simple as an outpatient consultation with a doctor, or as serious as admission to hospital. 

Moreover, certain VTL countries require foreigners to purchase travel insurance with a specified minimum coverage for COVID-19 medical treatment. You’ll usually need to present your insurance certificate before boarding the flight. 

😷 Countries With Mandatory COVID-19 Travel Insurance Requirement
  • Fiji: Policy must cover COVID-19 medical treatment, no minimum specified
  • Indonesia: US$100,000 (~S$136,000)*
  • Malaysia: RM100,000 (~S$32,000)
  • South Korea: KRW30 million (~S$35,000)
  • Thailand: US$50,000 (~S$68,000)

Amount refers to minimum coverage for COVID-19 related medical expenses

*For foreigners travelling for tourism purposes to Bali, Batam and Tanjung Pinang

Emergency Medical Evacuation

In the event that you contract COVID-19 and your situation deteriorates, doctors may decide that evacuation to Singapore for further treatment is necessary. 

This can be a very expensive process- according to examples from Chubb, medical evacuation via air ambulance can cost upwards of US$100,000. You’ll definitely want to ensure your travel policy has adequate coverage in this area.  

When choosing your policy, make sure it provides separate coverage for medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation.

For example, MSIG TravelEasy (Standard) provides S$65,000 of combined coverage for overseas medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation.

On the other hand, Allianz Travel Insurance (Bronze) provides S$1 million of coverage for medical expenses, and a separate S$1 million of coverage for emergency medical evacuation.

If your situation is serious enough to warrant repatriation to Singapore, you may well have incurred significant overseas medical expenses already- so it’s vital you have something left over to cover the evacuation.

Quarantine Allowance

If you receive a positive COVID-19 result while overseas and are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, the standard procedure in most VTL countries is to self-isolate in a hotel. 

The two situations where travellers are most likely to receive a positive COVID-19 result while overseas are:

  • Upon arrival overseas: Assuming the country requires a further COVID-19 test on arrival (most European countries and the USA do not)
  • Pre-departure to Singapore: All VTL travellers to Singapore must take a COVID-19 ART/PCR test within 2 days of departure

Getting a positive result on arrival isn’t a great way to start your vacation, but unlikely to incur much incremental accommodation costs because you can use the hotel already booked for isolation.

However, getting a positive result on your pre-departure test could be expensive, because you’ll need to book additional hotel accommodation beyond your originally envisioned return date, as you wait for the all-clear. 

A quarantine allowance helps defray some of the additional expenses involved. While most policies offer S$50/day, I’d strongly advise topping up a little extra for a policy with S$100/day, to cover the cost of a decent hotel. Also note how many days of quarantine are covered; some policies offer 7 days, others 14 days.

Note that quarantine allowances do not cover situations where quarantine is a published requirement for travel. For example, Singapore residents traveling to Indonesia must undergo a 10-day quarantine on arrival. No claims will be allowed in this respect (remember: travel insurance is meant to cover the possibilities, not the certainties).

⚠️ What quarantine allowance won’t cover

The ICA has a policy that travellers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days should not travel to Singapore. 

Suppose your pre-departure test in Germany comes back positive, and you’re issued a 7-day self-isolation order. After 7 days, you clear a COVID-19 PCR test and are released. You can claim a quarantine allowance for the 7-day period indicated on the self-isolation order, but not the additional 7 days you need to wait in Germany before returning to Singapore.

Trip Cancellation

Many VTL countries require a pre-departure test before leaving Singapore. Should your result come back positive, you’ll almost certainly need to cancel your trip. 

Trip cancellation protection offers reimbursement for any forfeiture of deposits or charges that are unrecoverable (e.g. flights, hotels, attraction tickets). Note the emphasis on the word “unrecoverable”- you’ll usually be required to submit proof that you contacted the merchant to request a refund and were denied. If the merchant agrees to refund you a portion of your costs, that portion is not recoverable from your travel insurer. 

Do note that trip cancellation does not cover situations where you get spooked out of travelling because of quarantine requirements or travel advisories. 

Certain travel insurance policies may also provide coverage for trip postponement, which as the name suggests, covers the costs incurred in postponing your trip as opposed to cancelling it. 

What should I know about COVID-19 coverage?

Coverage applies to overseas expenses

With the exception of trip cancellation or postponement, travel insurance is generally meant to cover you for things that happen outside of Singapore

In other words, if you require overseas medical treatment for a COVID-19 infection diagnosed in the UK, you can file a claim with your travel insurer. 

However, if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning to Singapore from the UK, you’ll need to file a claim with your regular health insurance provider for medical treatment received in Singapore.

While the Singapore government is currently picking up the tab for COVID-19 medical bills for fully vaccinated Singaporeans, PRs and LTP holders, an exception applies to those who test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of their arrival in Singapore. However, these individuals will still be able to tap into government subsidies and insurance coverage where applicable.

According to the MOH, the median acute hospital bill for patients who end up in the ICU and require COVID-19 therapeutics is S$25,000, although means-tested government subsidies and MediShield Life coverage can reduce the bill to about S$2,000 to S$4,000 for eligible Singaporeans in subsidised wards. 

COVID-19 coverage will be less than general coverage

While travel insurance policies may offer very generous coverage of overseas medical expenses, COVID-19 treatment is usually a much smaller amount. For example, AXA SmartTraveller offers up to S$600,000 of overseas medical expenses, but only up to S$150,000 for those specifically related to COVID-19.

I can only surmise that it’s because COVID-19 is a relatively novel disease, and underwriters prefer to err on the side of caution by limiting their liability. 

Mandatory quarantine is not grounds for cancellation

If there’s one thing the Omicron variant has reminded us, it’s that border restrictions and quarantine requirements are liable to change at short notice.

In recent weeks, for example, we’ve seen Sydney and Melbourne impose 72-hour quarantines for all international arrivals, and India reinstate 7-day home quarantine for all travellers from Singapore. While both these requirements have since been lifted, it’s a reminder of how fast things can go south.

As inconvenient as these things may be, changing regulations, government advisories against travel and even border closures are generally not grounds to claim trip cancellation. 

Most policies will only cover trip cancellation if you, a travelling companion or family member test positive for COVID-19 prior to departure. To put it another way, while it’s unfortunate that you’ll need to spend precious overseas time in quarantine, that’s not really the insurer’s problem. 

If you really want a policy that covers such situations, you might consider Singlife (formerly known as Aviva) travel insurance and its “cancel for any reason” clause. This covers 50% of your unrecoverable travel and entertainment costs (capped at S$5,000) should you decide not to travel, claimable a maximum of once per period of insurance (i.e. annual policyholders can only use it once).

Which travel insurance policies provide COVID-19 coverage?

The following travel insurance policies provide COVID-19 coverage. Since policies often have different tiers, I’ve taken the cheapest (basic) and most expensive (premium) ones to give a range of the coverage you can expect. 

PolicyCoverage
(Basic | Premium)
Travel Guard
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
S$50KS$250K
Medical Evac.
S$50KS$250K
Quarantine Allow.
S$50 per day (14 day max)S$100 per day (14 day max)
Trip Cancellation
S$2.5KS$7.5K
 

Allianz Travel Insurance
Policy Wording

Medical Expenses
S$1MUnlimited
Medical Evac.
S$1MUnlimited
Quarantine Allow.
None
(can claim under Travel Delay)
None
(can claim under Travel Delay)
Trip Cancellation
S$15KS$25K
 
Travel Insurance
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
S$50KS$200K
Medical Evac.
S$250KUnlimited
Quarantine Allow.
NoneS$100 per day (20 day max)
Trip Cancellation
S$500S$2K
 
Smart Traveller
Policy Wording

Medical Expenses
S$75KS$150K
Medical Evac.
UnlimitedUnlimited
Quarantine Allow.
S$50 per day (7 day max)S$50 per day (14 day max)
Trip Cancellation
S$1KS$2K
 
DBS TravellerShield Plus
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
S$50KS$200K
Medical Evac.
S$50KS$200K
Quarantine Allow.
S$100 per day (7 day max)S$100 per day (14 day max)
Trip Cancellation
S$2.5KS$7.5K
 
Travel CovidSafe*
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
S$50KS$200K
Medical Evac.
S$50KS$200K
Quarantine Allow.
S$50 per day (14 day max)S$50 per day (14 day max)
Trip Cancellation
S$1KS$2K
 
TravelSmart Premier
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
NoneS$150K
Medical Evac.
NoneS$150K
Quarantine Allow.
NoneNone
Trip Cancellation
NoneS$5K
 
COVIDSafe Travel Protect360
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
NoneS$100K
Medical Evac.
NoneUnlimited
Quarantine Allow.
NoneS$50 per day (20 day max)
Trip Cancellation
NoneS$2K
 
TravelEasy
Policy Wording

Medical Expenses
S$65KS$200K
Medical Evac.
S$65KS$200K
Quarantine Allow.
NoneNone
Trip Cancellation
S$1KS$3K
 
Travel Insurance
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
S$150KS$100K
Medical Evac.
S$150KS$150K
Quarantine Allow.
S$100 per day (14 day max)S$100 per day (14 day max)
Trip Cancellation
S$2KS$2K
 
Travel (COVID-19) Insurance
Policy Wording
Medical Expenses
S$100KS$200K
Medical Evac.
S$100KS$200K
Quarantine Allow.
S$50 per day (14 day max)S$100 per day (14 day max)
Trip Cancellation
S$2KS$4K
 

My advice would be to look for an insurer that provides coverage for all four areas discussed previously (some policies do not provide quarantine allowance).

Generally speaking, there’s no harm in purchasing travel insurance well in advance of your trip, since you’re only charged for the days overseas. In other words (ignoring promotions), Provider X will charge the same for a 7-day trip to South Korea whether you buy it the day before departure, or one month in advance. Buying it earlier means you’ll be covered for specified events that occur in the pre-departure period, such as a positive COVID diagnosis. 

Should you eventually decide not to travel, most Singapore-based insurers allow you to cancel and refund your policy, provided no claims have been made (some may charge an administrative fee). 

Travel insurance from airlines

Instead of purchasing travel insurance from a bank or underwriter directly, passengers flying on certain airlines can purchase or enjoy complimentary travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage. 

Singapore Airlines x Allianz

Policy Wording
Medical ExpensesS$1M
Quarantine Allowance
Per Day | Capped
N/A
(but covered under trip interruption @ S$150/day for 14 days) 
Emergency Medical Evac.S$500K
Trip CancellationS$10K

Singapore Airlines offers passengers the option to purchase an insurance policy underwritten by Allianz that features up to S$1M of medical expense coverage for COVID-19, and covers up to S$500K of emergency medical evacuation. 

There is no specific quarantine allowance, but you can make a claim for this under the trip interruption section at a rate of S$150 per day for up to 14 days. 

Scoot x AXA (paid)

Policy Wording
Medical ExpensesS$10,000
Quarantine Allowance
Per Day | Capped
S$100 | S$1,000
Emergency Medical Evac.Actual cost
Trip CancellationS$800, with S$100 excess

Scoot offers passengers the option to purchase an insurance policy underwritten by AXA that features up to S$10,000 of medical expense coverage for COVID-19. Needless to say, this amounts to bare bones coverage, and would not be enough to satisfy the requirements of some of the destinations Scoot serves (i.e. Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand). 

While the quarantine allowance is acceptable at S$100 per day, trip cancellation is capped at S$800, with a S$100 excess.

Cathay Pacific x AXA (free)

Policy Wording
Medical ExpensesUS$200,000
Quarantine Allowance
Per Day | Capped
US$100 | US$1,400
Emergency Medical Evac.Actual cost
Trip CancellationN/A

Passengers who purchase or redeem a Cathay Pacific-issued ticket with travel between 7 December 2020 and 31 December 2021 will automatically receive free COVID-19 insurance underwritten by AXA. 

Cathay Pacific-issued ticket
Coverage applies to any Cathay Pacific-issued ticket, which means that travel can be with another carrier so long as you got your ticket from Cathay Pacific. For example, you could use Asia Miles to redeem an award on Qatar Airways and still receive complimentary coverage. 

This policy provides US$200,000 of medical expense coverage and a quarantine allowance of US$100 per day. Emergency medical evacuation is covered, but not trip cancellation.

Emirates x AIG (free)

Policy Wording
Medical ExpensesUS$175,000
Quarantine Allowance
Per Day | Capped
US$115 | US$1,610
Emergency Medical Evac.Actual cost
Trip CancellationN/A

Passengers who purchase or redeem an Emirates-issued ticket with travel between 1 December 2021 and 31 March 2022 will enjoy complimentary COVID-19 medical travel insurance, underwritten by AIG.

Emirates-issued ticket
This coverage applies to any Emirates-issued ticket, which means that travel can be with another carrier. So long as your e-ticket number starts with 176, you’ll be covered. An example where this might happen is redeeming Emirates Skywards miles for a Qantas flight

Up to US$175,000 of medical expenses are covered, with a quarantine allowance of US$115 per day. Emergency medical evacuation is covered, but not trip cancellation.

Conclusion

In addition to the policies above, there are also those issued by overseas insurers which cover Singapore residents too (e.g. SafetyWing). These may offer competitive coverage at a fair price, but I don’t personally have experience with these, and can’t comment on their coverage or claims process. You should also remember that should a dispute arise, you won’t be able to call on local bodies like FIDReC to intervene. 

Do remember that travel insurance provides no coverage should your trip be impacted by new  quarantine requirements and even border closures. Likewise, there’s no coverage against a disinclination to travel, so if you’re still on the fence, it’s a good idea to hold your fire on any non-refundable bookings.

Venturing overseas without travel insurance was always a foolhardy endeavour prior to COVID, and to do so now is borderline insane. Don’t pinch pennies when it comes to protection- no one ever enjoyed a mai tai on the beach while looking over his shoulder. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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ZYX

Fxxk Allianz. Paid premium then told me no cover for pandemic border closure and airlines bankruptcy.
The policy was purchased in Nov 2019 btw.

Last edited 9 months ago by ZYX
JW19

orbi good. you should be reading the policy coverage before buying, not after.

David

same thing for me with Allianz. They even pre-dated the “Pandemic” date before WHO even labeled it a pandemic and they backed out paying back. Despite policy, flight and trip was all before an official pandemic… horrible experience

Samuel

Does it apply for cruise to nowhere?

Johhn de Bear

Am I right to say AXA will not require us to have a COVID-test if we are going to countries like Switzerland that do not require one from us?

Christ

MSIG?

cheesecake

More details of the AIG-SQ policy that I found out by calling their dedicated hotline at AIG. There are essentially two categories – one set of premiums for Asia region, and another for Rest of World. For reference, the premium I was quoted for maximum 182 days for ROW was S$1,757 The policy is tagged against the PNR that contains the outbound segment from, and inbound segment to, Singapore = basically covers the entire trip duration outside Singapore (“main trip”). Once outside Singapore, you can add more destinations (“sub trips”) without incurring extra premium. But for each sub trip, you… Read more »

justmelah

would be interesting to know the ‘FOC’ Travel cover for PPS holders

Mirror

I have a qn pls … does travel insurance cover business class tickets ? I bought SQ biz lite, which is non refundable but allows for postponement. Will travel insurance reimburse me if I cancel the ticket because of covid ?

Bernard

Does quarantine allowance include the amount one would have to pay for a room in a quarantine hotel/facility? $50 (or even $100) per day is far too little to cover quarantine costs.

(For example the people here had insurance that wouldn’t cover a mandatory quarantine hotel stay: https://www.reddit.com/r/travel/comments/p8qip7/take_a_warning_from_us_trip_to_italy_any_tips/)

Last edited 6 months ago by Bernard
rob

https://www.sompo.com.sg/products/travelcovid

For trips commencing on or after 13 Oct 2021:
If you are Fully Vaccinated* prior to your trip, NO pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test is required for you to be covered!

yyy

so no insurer will cover you if the country suddenly stopped Singapore residents from entering.

Anonymous
Alex

I have the same question… but I think after reading from this ST post and MOH website, it seems if we tested +ve within 14 days of return, we can only tap on our Medisave, Integrated Plan, personal insurance (not travel insurance) for all medical related expenses. The travel insurance only covered during the out-of-Singapore period 🙁
Other than this, I can’t find any other info online that talks about this issue.

Janus

Some travel insurance like AXA does. Read the policy wording. It will be stated.

Liliz Chen

Will these travel insurance policies cover you if you’d tested covid positive before you take PCR or art?

Janus

How do you test positive if you did not take a PCR or ART?

Janus

Do not buy FWD travel insurance with the covid add on. If you get covid before flying back from overseas, you will not be able to return and FWD will not extend the travel insurance and add on to cover and hopsitalisation or quarantine order while you are stuck overseas. Had a stupid and long chat with their customer support.

Fred

According to the policy, though, coverage is extended.

James

It seems that there is no local travel insurance that provides the 1-page format required for upload into Thailand Pass system. Does it mean that VTL travellers to Thailand has to buy from AXA Thailand?

Anony

The AXA Thailand seemed like the easiest travel insurance to get approved. Seen a number of approved pass with that insurance. I got denied once. But reapplied and got approved by uploading the $350,000 coverage amount for the travel insurance segment and upload the insurance cert at the last segment for additional documents. I bought the SQ travel guard with AIG.

Tom

How do I think about redemption flights in the context of insurance? Presumably if I have a positive pre-departure test the insurer won’t pay me out the cash equivalent of my flight so I’ll still be massively out of pocket trying to buy a one-way flight back to Singapore?

Tom

thanks I spotted this – my understanding is this would compensate me for any points forgone, but assuming there aren’t any redemption flights now available, I’d still need to fork out cash for a one-way fare. Do you know of policies that will pay out the cash equivalent for the flight you are unable to take?

Falco

Do none of the premium credit card travel health insurance schemes cover covid?

Tan

The SIA insurance policy is now from Allianz, and the wording doesn’t cover quarantine it seems. https://www.magroup-online.com/SAS/SG/EN/Policy_Wording.pdf

I can’t find the AIG policy now when I try to purchase insurance associated with my trip booking; does anyone know about this?

Min

Hello everyone,

Between the SQ x Alliance vs AIG Travel Guard, which policy do you think offer better coverage in terms of being stranded overseas (assuming +ve test before departure) and etc. Am less concerned about coverage when I arrive back in SG.

Is there option to add on the SQ x Alliance coverage for redemption flights ? My trip is quite forward looking in September and hence I’ve not bought insurance yet.

Appreciate your any advice, thanks!

Saywai

Read Chubb/DBS policy wordings and it seems very onerous. Definition of compulsory quarantine does not include stay home notice or isolation orders. And it seems their definition of quarantine means quarantine in a government appointed facility – meaning self isolation in hotels may not count!

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