Everyone rejoice, general travel is resuming!
If you haven’t heard already, Singapore has announced plans for an air bubble with Hong Kong. That has got some of us already drooling at the thought of travelling there.
Actually, since June 2020, Singapore has been gradually re-opening its borders to countries with low COVID-19 transmission rates. Green lanes are being established while border measures are being eased for travelers from selected countries.
While these have been largely limited to business and essential travel, the air bubble with Hong Kong is a turning point, and an indication of better things to come!
Slowly but surely, it seems the days of overseas vacation may be returning.
But before you fly to grab your beloved milk tea or egg tarts, it is important to remember that your safety is still of the utmost importance. While rigorous measures are in place, one can never assume that there is blanket safety. It is key that you have access to the best healthcare, regardless of where you are.
Now, it’s widely known that most insurance companies have since excluded COVID-19 from its coverage, so what protection are we really talking about here? It’s our little “hack” to get you covered for those who have to travel right now or who simply cannot stave off the wanderlust.
This comes in the form of a lesser-known type of insurance called international health insurance which can give you certain coverage when you have to travel during this period.
Want to find out more? Well, read on then!
Where Can I Travel Overseas Right Now?
But before we dive deep into our “hack”, we have to know where we can even travel to.
Currently, the easing of border measures is mainly for business or official travellers. As of 14 October, Singapore has established Green or Fast lane arrangements with the following countries:
- Mainland China (6 Regions)
- Republic of Korea
- Indonesia (Commencing on 26 October 2020)
These are reciprocal agreements allowing for essential business and official travel between the two countries. Travelers are required to abide by the health measures implemented by both countries, such as pre-departure and post-arrival testing, controlled itinerary, etc.
This is aimed to help restore connectivity and support the economic recovery process for both countries.
Singapore has also unilaterally opened its borders for general travel to countries with a low COVID’19 transmission rate. They include:
- Australia (with the exception of Victoria state)
- New Zealand
While Singapore has also updated our travel advisory to allow for general travel to these destinations, many of these countries continue to have their travel restrictions in place.
Note: Singapore has just announced an in-principle agreement for a bilateral air bubble for general travel. This article will be updated when more details are released.
When will general travel resume?
That is a question that is on everyone’s minds.
However, there is no doubt that Singapore is actively working to establish travel bubbles with countries with low COVID’19 transmission rates.
Should our community transmission rate stay low, it is likely that we will be hearing about travel bubble arrangements with countries that have similar or better COVID’19 risk profiles.
What precautions should I take if I am travelling?
Whether you are travelling for business or official purposes, or simply planning ahead in anticipation of general travel resumption, it is important to take the necessary safety precautions.
You can stay updated with the virus spread and necessary safety precautions on WHO Novel Coronavirus 2019 site.
While the risk of contracting COVID’19 is minimal in the mentioned counties, we can never really be sure until a vaccine is out.
Nothing is worse than a positive diagnosis while you are in a foreign land. Language barrier, differing health standards, and being in an unfamiliar environment, it is the perfect script for a horror movie.
Does my travel insurance cover COVID-19?
While travel insurance provides coverage for a variety of things, COVID-19 is, unfortunately, not one of them. With the World Health Organisation declaring COVID’19 as a pandemic, many insurers have released announcements that it will be considered a known event and be excluded from their travel insurance coverage.
While the Singapore government has lifted travel restrictions to allow travel to certain countries, many insurers have yet to adjust their stance. This means that any claims origin from COVID’19 are still not covered if you choose to travel to these countries.
Given the significant cost involved, should you contract COVID’19, it is advisable to wait and defer non-essential travel for now.
What if I have to travel for business/ essential purposes?
Currently, should you develop Covid’19 symptoms within 14 days after returning to Singapore, you will be eligible for coverage under local health insurance such as MediShield and Integrated Shield Plan.
However, this is only if your trip is under one of the permitted arrangements.
If the trip is not in accordance with the prevailing travel advisories, you will have to bear the full unsubsidized medical expenses should you require hospital admission for suspected COVID’19 infection within 14 days of your return.
Here’s the “hack” – international health insurance
As most insurers have excluded COVID’19 from their travel insurance coverage, you will have to bear the full cost of treatment yourself. Depending on the countries, this can add up to a hefty amount.
An option to consider will be getting international health insurance. These can help to cover hospitalisation and outpatient fees while you are abroad. In extreme cases, emergency medical evacuation or reparation is also covered.
Some examples include Liberty MyHEALTH and Cigna International. In addition, APRIL International’s medical policies cover any treatment costs related to coronavirus as well.
International health insurance plans can serve as a good form of protection while you are travelling. Similar to Integrated Shield Plans, it can help cover your hospitalisation expenses should you be hospitalized for Covid’19. However, its coverage extends to anywhere in the world, rather than being limited to Singapore.
If you are travelling for business or essential purposes, do leave your details below and we can better advise you on what is best suited for you.