The COVID-19 pandemic has affected each and everyone of us. Employees in hardest hit sectors are facing high levels of unemployment and retrenchment. What makes it worse…
Having insurance coverage for Covid-19 is reassuring, given that the Covid-19 outbreak has lasted for more than a year with no signs of abating.
Although Singapore is considered to be one of the better countries that have managed the virus’ spread, it has also recently experienced a second wave like other countries. The virus may also become endemic, meaning it might “never go away”, in the words of Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.
“The repeated waves of COVID-19 clearly show that no country is safe in a pandemic until everyone else is safe,” said Mr Lee Hsien Loong in the G20 Global Health Summit held in May 2021.
That will take some time. But the good thing is, insurance providers are extending Covid-19 coverage. Let’s learn about how insurance covers for Covid-19.
Covid-19 has claimed 3.5 million deaths globally as of June 2021. In Singapore, thankfully, the government has managed to keep the number of deaths low. Out of a total of around 62,000 Covid-19 cases as of end May 2021, there have been 33 deaths. Most of these patients who pass away have pre-existing medical conditions, or are in old age.
In the event that you pass away due to Covid-19, a life insurance policy will offer a death benefit, which ensures that your dependents are financially secure for a period of time in your absence.
Additionally, life insurance also provides payouts and benefits if you suffer total and permanent disability (TPD). This applies also if the TPD is due to Covid-19. According to a study by Science, a lack of oxygen caused by the virus’ attack on the lungs can damage major organs like kidneys, liver, heart, and brain. The report also states that older adults are at greatest risk of both severe disease and long-term impairment.
Life insurance also offers a payout if you contract a critical illness. Although Covid-19 is not a critical illness, the coronavirus could invade cells in the respiratory system, attacking the lining of the airways. In certain cases, it could worsen to a critical illness such as end stage lung disease. In that case, your insurance provider will provide a payout according to the terms and conditions of your policy.
In Singapore, all Covid-19 patients are isolated and warded. This incurs treatment costs.
Initially at the start of the outbreak in February 2020, Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced that they will be paying for hospital bills incurred by Covid-19 patients in public hospitals. This was later changed in March 2020 to apply to Singaporean citizens, PRs and long-term pass holders only.
However, all travellers who last left Singapore before March 27, 2020 and are returning to Singapore will need to pay for their inpatient medical bills if they develop Covid-19 symptoms within 14 days of their arrival in Singapore. In such a scenario, Singaporeans and PRs will have government subsidies to help with the bills and can tap on MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans to help pay for the bills. Long-term pass holders can rely on private insurance’s assistance.
Since October 20, 2020, as Singapore progressively opens its borders, Ministry of Health (MOH) has also started to allow Singapore Citizens and PRs who travel out of Singapore to claim for inpatient COVID-19 treatment from MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans on or after October 20, 2020, if they experience COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of their return to Singapore.
If you’re a Singaporean citizen and have not been travelling since March 2020, you may wonder if you need additional Covid-19 insurance coverage since the government would foot your medical bills. Take note though, after being discharged for Covid-19, there may be pre- and post- hospitalisation fees as you return for follow-up consultations and things like additional x-rays. If that time comes, you would appreciate a comprehensive health insurance plan that covers such costs.
Most of us will not be planning for a vacation this year. But there are also some who still need to travel to study or work overseas. Therefore, they may be looking to apply for travel insurance that covers for Covid-19 medical expenses, as well as trip cancellation or travel postponement as a result of Covid-19 related events.
Note that most travel insurance that has Covid-19 coverage does not cover cancellation or postponement of trips as a result of wanting to comply with travel advisories, change of travel rules (e.g. SG-HK Travel Bubble being delayed), or a disinclination to travel due to fear. They would only cover cancellation due to hospitalisation (as a result of Covid-19 or not) or external circumstances like the lack of flights due to Covid-19.
Let’s look at some of the travel insurance policies that have Covid-19 coverage.
AXA SmartTraveller has been enhanced to provide Covid-19 coverage. The SmartTraveller Essential Plan offers up to $50,000 per person in overseas medical expenses and an overseas hospitalisation allowance of $100 per day, up to $1,000. Additionally, there is an overseas quarantine allowance of $50 per day, up to $350. The plan will pay out $1,000 for trip and $500 for trip postponement.
NTUC Income also launched Covid-19 coverage for their single-trip travel insurance plans from November 26, 2020. Each person gets up to US$100,000 for medical expenses overseas due to Covid-19, and US$100,000 for emergency medical evacuation due to Covid-19. For annual travel insurance, contact NTUC Income directly to include Covid-19 coverage as an add-on.
Sompo travel insurance offers payouts to cover medical expenses overseas due to Covid-19 for the Essential Plan, up to $100,000 for adults under 70 years old. For emergency evacuation due to Covid-19, the limit for claims is $100,000 for adults under 70 years old. There is also a quarantine allowance of $50 per day, up to $700.
For all of the abovementioned plans, the Covid-19 coverage does not apply to destinations that are deemed high-risk by the WHO. However, the exclusion list for each insurer could differ. Check your insurer’s website to be sure if your destination is included for the specific travel insurance before you purchase.
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