Does travel insurance cover trip cancellation due to Covid-19 Omicron variant?
Omicron? More like Omigod my travel plans have been cancelled!
It's the worst thing that could happen to wing-clipped Singaporeans looking to the skies for some much-needed travel nourishment.
However, as we have mentioned in our travel articles of previous weeks, the first and most important thing to buy for your travels is travel insurance.
Just in case something like this happens. Yes, it happened to me. Boooooooooooooo.
Things to know before claiming for trip cancellation with your travel insurance provider
Nearly all the travel insurance providers have some sort of clause that reads verbatim:
"You must provide documentary proof that you had first attempted to obtain a refund of any prepaid expenses from your transport or accommodation provider, and had been denied your request for a refund."
This means that the following examples of documentary evidence would suffice:
- Screenshots of your email trail with Singapore Airlines or Scoot rejecting your request for a refund
- Screenshots of being on hold for five hours on the Singapore Airlines hotline
- Screenshots of your email trail with your airline or accommodation provider going cold despite multiple follow-up emails from you
There is usually an additional clause:
"We will less out your claim amount by the amount that has been refunded to you."
This means that if you've gotten a partial refund from your airline or accommodation provider, they will only pay that difference.
What is the travel insurance coverage for trip cancellation or postponement due to Covid-19 Omicron variant?
Depending on which travel insurance provider you've chosen based on this earlier article, here are the coverages for trip cancellation and postponement:
|Travel insurance provider||Premium with Covid-19 Omicron coverage||Trip cancellation due to Covid-19 Omicron||Trip postponement due to Covid-19 Omicron|
|FWD||$72.91||Up to $1,000||N.A.|
|AIG||$129||Up to $7,500||Up to $1,500|
|Allianz||$123||Up to $15,000||N.A.|
|AXA||$138.72||Up to $2,000||Up to $1,000|
|Sompo||$132||Up to $4,000||Up to $4,000|
|NTUC Income||$233.09||Up to $2,000||Up to $2,000|
*For a one-week trip to Canada
Best travel insurance for trip cancellation: Allianz
Out of all the travel insurance providers, Allianz provides the highest coverage for trip cancellations, at up to $15,000 per claim.
Super useful if you actually used cash to buy your premium economy/business/first-class air tickets with cash instead of miles, or if you are going super bougie with your accommodations.
The next best insurer, AIG, only covers up to half of what Allianz can offer, which is up to $7,500. The rest don't even break above $5,000.
That being said, it does not cover trip postponement at all. To be honest, I would pay a little bit extra for trip postponement coverage. Just something to ponder, Allianz!
Best travel insurance for trip postponement: Sompo
Trip postponement is a slightly different animal to trip cancellations - most of the costs incurred from this would be from flight or accommodation rebooking fees, or different flight or accommodation rates on different dates, or both.
Here, coverages across the board are much lower, or none at all. Sompo stands out by having the highest trip postponement coverage for not much more than the competitors.
For a one-week trip to Canada, you pay only $132 and you get up to $4,000 worth of trip postponement coverage.
It has the same amount of coverage for trip cancellation, which isn't much, but it's good enough if you're a traveller on a budget.
The next best coverage is from NTUC Income, at $2,000, but that can only cover the flight, at most.
Best travel insurance for trip cancellation & postponement for people with pre-existing conditions: NTUC Income
NTUC Income stands out from all the other insurers in Singapore by being the only insurer that covers pre-existing conditions, albeit with a higher cost.
This is useful if you have a clipped wing complex and have trouble trying to find the right insurer for you.
Its coverage for trip cancellation and postponement are both at up to $2,000 each. It's not much, but it will cover the cost for flight cancellation or postponement.
Flights are usually the most expensive, upfront cost that most travellers undertake, what with accommodation providers offering free cancellations or date changes.
What about FWD, AIG & AXA?
Each of these insurers have their own merits - they are just not stellar in terms of trip cancellation and postponement coverage.
Don't let the Omicron bug ruin your travel plans completely
Omicron seriously said "haha SIKE!" to my travel plans and I was all the more devastated by this.
Thankfully, travel insurance was the ever-absorbing tissue that I didn't know I needed, as it effortlessly absorbed my salty tears from ugly crying like Kim Kardashian West.
All I'm saying is, during times like this, travel insurance can be the net that you didn't know you needed, but really needed when emergencies like this happen.
Much of the headache and anger is from that news, and then comes the resulting annoyance from trying to reach the airline or accommodation for your refund. When they don't pick up, it's like you lost.
You don't have to lose everything. Just get your travel insurance from MoneySmart!
This article was first published in MoneySmart.