News Coronavirus watch17 Nov 2020

COVID-19 insurance for Singapore-Hong Kong flights may draw flyers

After 22 November when residents of Singapore and Hong Kong will be allowed to visit either city without quarantine or stay-home notice, travellers are said to be considering coronavirus-covered add-on travel insurance as a non-price distinction between airlines.

Under the bilateral travel arrangement, air travel bubble travellers are allowed to use only designated carriers – Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Cathay Pacific according to a report from The Business Times.

Travellers will also need to bear the full cost of any medical treatment overseas should they test positive for the novel coronavirus during the several rounds of mandatory testing.

The travel bubble between the two cities will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked novel coronavirus cases is more than five in either Hong Kong or Singapore.

For a fee, those travelling on SIA and departing from either Singapore or Hong Kong can include travel insurance that covers certain situations arising from COVID-19 when booking a flight or add on to an existing itinerary.

Coverage differs as for one-way trips, the only benefit available is travel cancellation and postponement according to the website of insurer AIG that underwrites the insurance.

For a round trip departing from Singapore, coverage includes:

  • Up to S$350,000 ($260,000) for medical costs, and emergency medical evacuation and repatriation expenses incurred during the trip if the insured is diagnosed overseas;
  • Travel cancellation up to 60 days before departure for non-refundable travel and accommodation expenses if the insured or relative contracts the coronavirus before the departure date; and
  • Travel curtailment for non-refundable trip costs and additional travel expenses to return to the insured's country of residence if the insured or relative gets infected.

Notably, the insurance does not cover trip cancellation or postponement resulting solely from border closures, quarantine or other government orders, advisories, regulations or directives.

The add-on insurance available through Cathay Pacific and underwritten by Chubb Insurance Singapore expressly states that it continues to exclude all claims directly or indirectly arising from COVID-19.

The difference in coronavirus coverage may be worth the traveller's consideration, given that most, if not all, standalone travel insurance products available in Singapore exclude claims connected to the virus.

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