Does travel insurance in Singapore cover terrorist attacks?

The Straits Times

Statistically speaking, the chances of encountering a terrorist attack is very low.

Still, you can keep yourself covered by checking your travel insurance plan.

Across the region, school is out from June to August.

This gives families the opportunity to spend quality time together and enjoy quick getaways overseas.

According to the Visa Global Travel Intentions Study, common triggers of travel include the desire to spend time with family.

In fact, over 80 per cent of Singaporeans are planning to spend their June holidays overseas.

A family vacation abroad creates priceless memories, but families need to confront some very real costs when booking their holiday.

There's a reasonable amount of money that goes into booking flights, accommodations, and entertainment.

In fact, travellers in APAC spent an average of US$2,051 (S$2825) during their last trip, and expect to spend US$3,501 on their next trip.

But complications can arise if families spend more than they should, or are not covered for unforeseen events.

We're well aware of common travel mishaps like flight delays or lost luggage.

However, a more insidious complication - terrorism - has come to the forefront of our minds.

Most recently, the repeated attacks occurring in London has caused concern among travellers.

Although the recent incidents of terrorism are alarming, statistically, the chances of suffering an attack is very low.

There are several steps Singaporeans can take to help allay fears of terrorist attacks.

You should:

  • Check the insurance coverage you already have
  • Increase your coverage if necessary
  • Familiarise yourself with emergency hotline numbers, such as their credit card concierge or insurance hotline
  • Compare credit cards with travel insurance, or standalone travel insurance plans before you buy; this will avoid insufficient or inappropriate coverage
  • Be flexible with travel plans, so as to accommodate changes if necessary

Let's take a deeper look at how to avoid taking a financial hit.

If You Decide To Cancel Your Holiday

A common response to the occurrence of a terrorist incident is to delay or cancel a trip.

This means changing or cancelling hotel room bookings, flights, car rentals and other related bookings.

Before making any bookings, familiarise yourself with the cancellation policy of each.

Check to see if refunds will be provided for cancellations arising from terrorist acts.

If refunds are available, you can recover the cost of their tickets.

If refunds are not possible, try changing the dates of your hotel and flight to a future date.

You may need to monitor the situation in your destination to determine when it will be safe again to travel.

Do be aware that there may be fees involved.

If such fees equal or exceed the cost of your original booking, cancelling the entire trip may be worth it.

Another option for recourse is your travel insurance.

Some plans offer compensation in the case of cancelled or missed flights, as well as cancellations of travel plans.

However, you'll need to check for exclusions that might disqualify your claim.

For example, your plan may only offer a payout if the flight is cancelled by the airline, or if the insured is unable to travel because of sickness.

Remember that some credit cards provide free travel insurance.

Be sure to check what coverage is provided by your credit card, and beef it up with a stand-alone travel insurance plan if necessary.

If You Need To Leave The Affected Country

Should the city you are holidaying in suffer a terrorist attack, you may feel compelled to cut short your holiday and come back to safety.

In this case, you will face many problems similar to those described above.

Once again, the major considerations are whether you can get refunds.

This will vary from merchant to merchant; some may be able to provide refunds in the case of terrorist acts.

Here, too, your travel insurance plan may be of use, providing some measure of compensation to offset your financial losses.

Some travel insurance plans also provide emergency assistance to policyholders.

You can access this through a dedicated hotline, and cover a range of useful services, such as referral to medical services, interpreters, embassies and legal firms.

Similarly, credit card issuers also provide a 24-hour hotline that cardholders can use to request assistance.

The range of services varies from basic emergency assistance up to full-fledged concierges, such as by American Express and other providers.

Credit card concierge services will prove particularly useful should you need to change your travel plans because of terrorism.

They can help you secure alternative accommodation (in case you need to move to a different hotel) or the next flight out of the country.

They will also be able to refer to you medical, legal and police services, as well as contact your embassy on your behalf.

In short, do not hesitate to contact your credit card issuers for help.

If you have a travel insurance plan, they should also consider calling the emergency hotline.

If You Decide To Go Ahead With Your Travel Plan, Or If You Get Caught Up In the Attack

If, despite the attack, you decide to go ahead with your travel plan, double check your travel insurance plan and find out what happens if you fall victim to an attack.

Determine an appropriate level of coverage for you and people travelling with you.

This will vary according to your life stage, number of dependents and other unique and personal factors.

Once you have arrived at this figure, check to see if your current insurance plans (whether your life insurance plan, credit card travel insurance plan, or standalone travel insurance plan) are sufficient to provide this.

Most importantly, check whether this coverage still stands in the event of a terror attack.

Do note that some forms of attack (such as nuclear, biological or chemical attacks) are excluded.

Broadly, there are 3 areas of coverage you want to look at.

1. Death and Total and Permanent Disability

  • This benefit pays out in the case of death or severe injury. It is designed to replace lost earnings, or prevent the disruption of future livelihood of the insured and their dependents.

2. Emergency Medical Treatment

  • This covers the cost of hospital fees and emergency services, such as ambulance, emergency stabilisation and treatment, etc.

3. Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains

  • This covers any costs incurred for emergency or medical evacuation back to your home country for treatment, or in the case of death, professional services to return mortal remains for proper burial.

The above is just a brief summary.

Consider speaking with a trained financial adviser to help you determine your needs, interpret your policies and secure the appropriate insurance you need.