Travel Insurance

Trip Cancellation & Trip Curtailment

Frequently Asked Questions

A) I booked a trip to China for my family but had to cancel it prior to departure as my son fell and fractured his leg. I called my travel agency but they told me there would be a cancellation charge. Can I claim under my travel policy and if so, what can I claim?

Most travel policies have a Trip Cancellation section which will cover you for travel costs prepaid in advance for which you are not able to obtain a refund up to a specified maximum limit. However, there are certain terms and conditions which you should be aware of, some of which are highlighted below:

i) This section will only be applicable if you DO NOT proceed with your journey. For example, there is no cover if you merely postponed your trip to an alternative date.
ii) The cancellation must be due to a named event. Common events will include serious illness or accident to you, your travelling companion or specified family members only, or an unexpected outbreak of strike, riot or civil commotion. As the list of insured events covered differs for different policies, please check your policy wording to verify the type of benefits offered.
iii) There is usually a specified time frame prior to departure within which the named event must occur. This is commonly set at 30 days prior to departure.

An important feature of this section is the date and time that you purchase your policy. It is of no use to purchase the policy after an event has happened as your claim will not be admissible. Therefore you should ensure that you purchase your policy early to utilise this section fully and avoid any misunderstanding.

B) I was travelling in China when my family members informed me that my mother had fallen seriously ill and was hospitalised. As I am the primary caretaker for my mother, I had to rush home and look after her. I could not amend my air ticket so I had to purchase a new air ticket to fly home urgently. I also had to forfeit the rest of my scheduled tour. Can I claim from my travel policy?

Most travel policies also have a Trip Curtailment section which will reimburse you for the travel costs pre-paid in advance for which you are unable to get a refund AND additional travel costs incurred in order to return home, subject up to a maximum limit.

Some common terms and conditions you should be aware of:

i) Trip curtailment means that you have abandoned your original trip and returned home.
ii) The curtailment must be due to a named event. Common events will include serious illness or accident to you, your travelling companion or specified family members only, natural disasters or an unexpected outbreak of strike, riot or civil commotion.

You should provide supporting documents to verify that the event resulting in the trip curtailment did take place. For example based on the earlier scenario, documents to show the period and medical condition suffered by your mother, an invoice from the travel agency showing the amount paid for the tour and receipts showing the additional costs incurred.

As the list of insured events covered differs between policies, please check your policy’s wording to verify the type of benefits offered.

SCENARIO

You were in London and had planned to travel to Germany for 2 days before returning to London to fly back to Singapore. Unfortunately due to severe weather conditions, you were unable to fly to Germany so you remained in London and flew home to Singapore as originally scheduled. You had to forfeit the cost of the tour, flight and hotel expenses in Germany.

In this case, this is not a cancellation or curtailment situation. You had already departed Singapore so you did not cancel or abandon your trip. You did not curtail your trip as you did not cut short your trip to return home but merely changed your travel plans and continued to stay in London. In any event, curtailment would not be covered as adverse weather conditions are generally not an insured event under the section. You should check your policy’s wording to verify the insured events applicable for trip cancellation and curtailment cover.

C) When the volcano in Iceland erupted, volcanic ash was spread all over Europe. I had cancel my trip to Europe as my flights had been cancelled due to the closure of airspace. Can I claim for the expenses incurred which my travel agent and airline did not refund me?

If your travel policy specifies natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions as an insured event under the Trip Cancellation section, you will be covered:

i) if you purchased your policy before the eruption happened and/or any travel advisory had been issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
ii) for the non-refundable cost of your pre-paid travel expenses up to the maximum policy limit
iii) if the event resulting in the cancellation of your travel occurs within the specified time frame prior to your departure Some policies may not cover natural disasters for trip cancellation so you should read your policy wording carefully as occurrence time frames, policy limits and exclusions will differ across different policies. An added step that you can take to reduce your risk exposure is to approach your travel agency and airline as early as possible to verify where they stand for the situation at hand.

These parties may offer refunds or alternative solutions. These typically will have a deadline so you should approach them early. For hotel bookings, if you inform them early, your cancellation fee will be greatly reduced. These are all simple steps you can take to reduce your potential losses especially in situations where there is no cover or limited cover under your travel policy.

D) What if I was already overseas and had to curtail my trip and return earlier than scheduled? Or if I experienced delays in my journey and had to incur additional costs for travel and accommodation?

In the event that you have to curtail your trip, the same cancellation issues as highlighted above will apply. Generally for delay situations, travel policies will cover delay as a result of adverse weather conditions, but not for natural disasters like volcanic eruptions. As explained in question 3c, this is due to the wide extent of impact of such natural disasters.

E) But some people in the same tour group received some form of compensation while some did not. Why is this so?

As explained in question 3a, this is due to the different terms and conditions found across different policies. However, notwithstanding policy terms and conditions, insurers may take a stand in view of special circumstances. This will usually be posted on their website so you should visit your insurer’s website or approach your insurance intermediary for details.