5 Automatic extension of coverage
AIG Assist automatically extends the coverage free for 72 hours or three days if your trip is extended due to 'circumstances beyond your control'.
These include terrorist attacks and riots. Further extensions beyond those three days are possible with an additional premium payment.
Income's travel insurance does not cover travel delays and trip cancellations due to riots, said Mr Pui Phusangmook, its senior vice-president and general manager of its general insurance division.
However, in the case of the recent unrest in Bangkok, it made an exception and automatically extended the period of insurance for policyholders who were already in the Thai capital and unable to get a flight back to Singapore.
The extension was free for up to 14 days.
This automatic extension kicked in in May when Income's travel insurance policyholders were affected by the earthquake in Sichuan, China.
Some policies also allow for automatic extension of the coverage for up to 30 days free if you are hospitalised or quarantined.
6 Does the policy cover additional travel expenses?
Some policies cover additional travel or accommodation expenses incurred after the trip has started, in the event that the policyholder becomes seriously injured or sick. They also offer coverage if the travel companion of the insured person dies in circumstances such as natural disasters or riots in an area not usually affected by unrest.
7 Trip cancellation
Some policies cover the loss of non-refundable deposits or other charges paid in advance, in the event of the financial collapse of the tour operator, for instance.
Mr Lim said that it makes sense to ensure that such risks are covered, particularly during a recession when businesses are operating in an uncertain financial climate.
Income said that if you want this coverage, you should buy and activate your travel policy as soon as you pay a deposit to travel agencies or airlines.
8 Overseas medical expenses and evacuation
This covers medical expenses incurred overseas, including hospitalisation. Some insurers even cover treatment by traditional Chinese physicians.
Four years ago, Mrs Sulin Ho became a firm advocate of travel insurance after her father-in-law, then 70, suffered a stroke when he was visiting his daughter in Los Angeles. He underwent an operation there, and when his condition stabilised more than a week later, he was evacuated to Singapore, accompanied by a doctor.
As well as covering medical expenses, his insurance policy covered the cost of flying Mrs Ho's husband to visit his father in Los Angeles during the period he was unable to travel. In all, it would have cost the Ho family more than $500,000 if the senior Mr Ho had not been covered by travel insurance.
'We would have had to take out a loan if my father-in-law had not bought a travel policy then. Now I'm a firm believer in travel insurance and I constantly remind my friends and colleagues to buy cover when they fly,' said Mrs Ho.
However, Mr Lim emphasised that the story would not have had such a satisfactory ending had the condition or illness been pre-existing - since these are excluded from all travel policies.
9 Delayed or damaged or lost baggage
This covers delay, damage or loss to baggage, clothing and laptops. The insurer usually stipulates a cap per item. For instance, a laptop claim is typically capped at $1,000.
10 Repatriation of remains and compassionate visits
This feature covers the expense of returning your remains to Singapore in the event that you die during the trip. It also covers the expense of one relative or friend travelling to the scene if assistance is required with the arrangements for repatriating your remains.
|Credit cards' freebies
You may not know it but you get free travel insurance if you pay for your air tickets or package tour with your credit card.
But that does not mean you should forgo buying a plan from an insurer, as the free benefits with credit card cover are often not comprehensive. They also vary with the type of card used, and terrorism is usually excluded
Maybank said: 'We encourage travellers to purchase travel insurance as well, instead of relying solely on the credit card's insurance. A travel insurance policy is more comprehensive and can cover terrorism as well.'
The main benefits from Citibank, DBS Bank, Maybank and United Overseas Bank (UOB) cards cover accidental death and total permanent disability.
For instance, all DBS personal credit cards, except the Treasures Black Elite, provide free coverage in the event of death and permanent disability up to $1 million. But this is valid only if the events occur during the flight.
The Treasures Black Elite coverage extends to overseas accidents that occur on the ground, and travel inconveniences such as travel and baggage delays, loss of luggage, and overseas medical expenses due to accidents.
Citibank's Travel Protect coverage includes accidental death and total permanent disability of $50,000 and overseas medical costs up to $5,000. An excess of $50 applies.
UOB Visa Signature customers get benefits that include connecting flight delay reimbursements, among other features.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on Dec 7, 2008.
For more The Straits Times stories, click here.