Vacation plans may soon be back on the table, with Singapore gradually opening up travel lanes with other countries. Germany was the first country that Singaporeans could fly to and from without quarantine, and nine other countries were recently added to the scheme.
Before you dust off your passport and book your tickets, it’s worth considering how to protect your health and finances in the event that you contract Covid while overseas or upon your return.
We’ve rounded up coverage options that can help you embark on that long-awaited trip with peace of mind.
Consulting a doctor or being hospitalised overseas could run up hefty bills. Travel insurance can help to defray these costs. Many insurers, though not all, have updated their travel policies to include Covid. Others offer coverage for Covid as an add-on.
However, terms and conditions vary across insurers, so it’s always advisable to check these out before purchasing. For example, some plans only cover certain countries as destinations. Insurers may also only cover Covid for select plans; say, per trip but not annual policies.
What travel policies that do cover Covid have in common, is that they usually provide for medical and hospitalisation costs incurred overseas. They also usually cover evacuation and repatriation costs – that is, the expenses for being transported elsewhere for medical treatment or being sent back to Singapore, respectively.
Plans may also provide an allowance if you need to be quarantined due to Covid.
Here’s a comparison of some major insurers that have incorporated Covid coverage into their travel plans:
|Insurer||Maximum coverage for medical and evacuation/repatriation costs due to Covid||Maximum coverage for quarantine due to Covid|
|Aviva||S$20,000; unlimited for evacuation/repatriation||S$2,000|
|AXA||S$152,000; unlimited for evacuation/repatriation||S$700|
|NTUC Income||S$150,000 for medical; S$150,000 for evacuation/repatriation||Nil|
AIG has the highest coverage of $300,000 among those we compared, but lumps together medical and evacuation/repatriation costs. Pro-tip: when booking flights on Singapore Airlines, you’ll have the option of adding the plan that it has partnered AIG on, which has a slightly higher coverage of $350,000.
Aviva’s and AXA’s plans have lower medical coverage but separate this cost from those potentially incurred by evacuation/repatriation; they allow an unlimited claim amount for these expenses.
In terms of allowance if you need to be quarantined overseas, Aviva has the highest provision of $2,000.
Subsidies and coverage in Singapore
The already bittersweet end to a holiday, would be made even more bitter if you developed Covid upon your return. The resulting medical expenses would make the hole burned in your pocket for your vacation abroad even bigger.
Fortunately, since 20 October 2020, the Singapore government has permitted citizens, permanent residents and long term pass holders who test positive for Covid or get Covid symptoms within 14 days of their return, to draw on government subsidies and insurance when paying for medical treatment.
From testing to hospitalisation and recovery, you can tap on a range of subsidies and public and private insurance options to ease your financial load.
Testing for COVID-19
Perhaps you start to develop a flu a few days after touching down in Singapore. Should you feel unwell after returning home, you can be assured that your doctor’s visit will be heavily subsidised if you are diagnosed with a respiratory infection. The cost of consultation, medicine and testing – including the swab test for Covid – would be covered under a flat rate of $10.
Hospitalisation and recovery
Treatment in a hospital may be required if your symptoms are severe enough. You would be able to claim from your MediSave, MediShield Life / Integrated Shield Plan and private insurance for any hospital stays that result from Covid. For MediSave, up to $550 can be claimed for the first two days in hospital and $400 per day from the third day onwards for daily hospital charges.
For MediShield Life, claims of up to $800 per day for normal wards, and $2,200 per day for Intensive Care Unit wards, can be made. There is a claim limit of $200 for the first two days and a deductible to be paid out of pocket for every first hospitalisation per year.
Integrated Shield Plans would provide further coverage for A- and B1-type wards.
Certain insurers provide additional coverage if you’re required to further recover at a community care facility following your discharge from hospital. For instance, Aviva provides a Hospital Cash Benefit for up to 14 days of your stay at a community care facility, if this was preceded by hospitalisation.
Additional protection against COVID-19
Some insurers have also rolled out short-term plans to provide greater coverage for Covid, including those travelling overseas. For example, Great Eastern is currently offering a complimentary one-year plan that will pay out up to $2,000 if you are hospitalised due to Covid. It covers both local and overseas hospitalisation, which is ideal if you’re looking for an additional boost to your travel coverage.
AIA is also providing hospitalisation income of $1,000 for existing holders of its life or accident and health policies, up till the end of this year or 30 days after the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition level has gone down to green, whichever is earlier.
Though travelling during a global pandemic has its risks, investing in coverage will help you prepare for any unexpected medical expenses, and ensure your trip is a memorable one for the right reasons. Given the range of policies that insurers have rolled out, you should be able to find one that fits your preferences for price and coverage. The use of MediSave and MediShield Life should help with any unexpected medical expenses once you’re back home.
To make your trip even more fuss-free, add your travel policies to the Planner Bee app and track your holiday expenditure there too.