Blog / Travel Insurance
Singapore haze. Would your travel plans be covered?
With the aircon turned on and the windows shut, you might not realise it's there, but as soon as you head out, you’ll know it's back – the Singapore Haze.
The acrid smell hits your nostrils, you search for the latest PSI reading and wonder how long the misery will last this time.
Caused mostly by illegal forest fires in various parts of Southeast Asia, the haze has been an unwelcome but frequent visitor to Singapore over the last few years. Inconvenient for business, frustrating for leisure and bad for your health, the haze mostly hits Singapore sometime between June and October.
If you are travelling and the haze hits then your travel plans may be affected. The trusty Travel team at Budget Direct Insurance is here to help.
Are you covered? Will your insurer cover your claims which are directly or indirectly caused by the haze?
With Budget Direct Insurance the answer can be YES and YES. With other insurers the answer may be NO and NO. Why?
The Singapore haze is a man-made phenomenon and some insurers don’t cover this, but Budget Direct Insurance does.
How is it man-made? Farmers in some Southeast Asian countries cut down part of the vegetation and, to clear the rest in a cheap and effective way, they set fire to it. Thousands of acres of land, forest or peat are illegally burned. Once cleared they grow trees which produce palm oil, demand for which has surged worldwide.
Insure your travel against the haze
Under Budget Direct Insurance’s Comprehensive Travel policy, haze can be regarded as a “poor weather condition”, and trip cancellations or delays caused by poor weather conditions such as haze will be covered. If you are insured under such policy, when your trip is cancelled or delayed due to haze:
- we will pay for your air fare in the event of a trip cancellation, if you are unable to get a refund from the airline.
- where you have obtained a partial compensation from the airline in the event of a trip cancellation, we will pay the difference between the original fare and the partial compensation received by you from the airline.
- we will also pay for your travel agent’s cancellation fee levied against you (if any) when your trip is cancelled.
- we will pay S$200 for every six consecutive hours that your flight is delayed overseas, up to a total limit of S$1,000.
Always keep your correspondence with your airline as Budget Direct Insurance will need to see this.
Are there exceptions?
Some exceptions include:
- if you bought a policy after the haze started, then you are not covered. This is because you bought your policy AFTER a known event.
- any related claims that result from a pre-existing medical condition will not be covered.
It isn’t just in Singapore
Some other Asian cities have it far worse. Rapid industrialization and surging populations have contributed to other mega cities like Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Jakarta suffering immense pollution. If you’re stuck, you’ll need to ensure your Travel insurance covers you.
Why can’t planes take off in the haze?
You’d think that, with all the latest technology, planes could just take off and land despite the haze. Not so true, as some level of visibility is still needed, particularly for pilots who need to be able to see the final 200 or 300 feet of the approach. It is irrelevant to the pilots whether this lack of visibility is caused by a natural phenomenon like fog, or man-made pollution like the haze. They just need to see the runway!
Some airports have implemented what’s known as Low Visibility Procedures (LVP). A major hub like Beijing has this facility on two out of three of its runways and it's down to the airline, the airplane and the pilots to hold a special qualification for LVP.
Airports also have to allow extra time between landings during periods of low visibility. This means fewer flights can get in or out, which may mean cancellations and delays. Poor visibility, whether it's due to the haze or other poor weather conditions is bad news all round.
Always check the conditions before you travel. If an official travel warning has been issued for a country that you are travelling to even before you make that trip, then this may affect your insurance cover.