SINGAPORE, July 23, 2015 - Around one-third of Singaporeans are unnecessarily putting themselves at risk while travelling, believing that travel insurance is not necessary for short overseas holidays less than three days or to nearby countries.
This is despite AIG Asia Pacific Insurance Pte. Ltd. paying over S$40,000 worth of travel claims made for locations worldwide on a daily basis, and customers making more than 4,000 claims related to travel to neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in the last 12 months1.
The AIG-commissioned survey (click here to view the survey infographic) by Nielsen, which was conducted from 17 to 30 April 2015, also showed that Singaporeans are avid travellers – they travel twice a year on average, with 95 percent intending to travel in the next 12 months. Medical expenses account for the majority of travel insurance claims (41 per cent) and are often the most expensive. This is followed by loss or damage of baggage (28 per cent), travel delays (17 per cent) and baggage delays (13 per cent).
Head of AIG Travel, Ms Anita Tan, said overseas and post-trip medical expenses are the top travel claims made by AIG customers in 2014.
“In cases where emergency medical evacuations are involved, the costs can really escalate. One of the highest claims paid out late last year for hospital expenses and an emergency medical evacuation from Thailand to Singapore amounted to S$75,0002,” said Ms Tan.
She added, “Trips to nearby countries do not necessarily present fewer risks and inconveniences. The risk exposure is the same regardless of the distance travelled – from cancelled flights to significant events such as natural disasters.”
Natural disasters are increasingly common in Southeast Asia, despite the belief by one-third of Singaporeans that travel insurance is not necessary for short trips to the region. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 42.9 percent of natural disasters occurred in Asia-Pacific from 1970 to 20143. In particular, Southeast Asia was hardest hit4.
In the recent earthquake that struck Sabah in June, AIG’s crisis response team was amongst the first to arrive with doctors and operations specialists to assist the insured. The team also helped to coordinate the insured’s in-patient treatment in Sabah.
AIG’s efforts in such cases are supported by AIG’s state-of-the-art assistance centres located in Kuala Lumpur and other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. These centres house full-time, trained and experienced medical teams on duty 24/7 to provide medical assistance and emergency evacuations.
The survey by AIG also found that Singaporeans are budget-conscious when it comes to protecting their holiday. The survey showed that 83 percent will not spend more than five percent of their total holiday expenditure on travel insurance, and 42 percent will only buy travel insurance when there is a promotion.
Ms Tan shared, “The price of an AIG three-day Travel Guard plan to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia can be as low as S$26, but a medical evacuation can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. This will cause a significant financial burden to you and your family if you need urgent medical assistance while overseas. With travel insurance, consumers will have the peace of mind that they can get help when they need it.”
1From July 2014 to June 2015.
2This case involved an insured who travelled to Thailand and suffered breathing difficulties, and was flown back to Singapore to seek treatment.
3United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Overview of Natural Disasters and their Impacts in Asia and the Pacific, 1970 – 2014, March 2015.
4United Nations, Asia-Pacific report: World’s most disaster prone region experiences three-fold rise in deaths, 18 December 2014.