Study shows that short-trip duration and perceived “low-risk” destinations are the top two cited reasons for not buying travel insurance


Singapore, 14 March 2018 – The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) today launched a new public education campaign to promote greater awareness among Singaporeans on the necessary precautions they should take to protect themselves against unforeseen circumstances when booking their holiday. 

Ahead of the NATAS and Travel Revolution fairs this month, the campaign brings back popular drama serial, The Unbeatables and introduces the message "Don't Travel Blur, Travel Sure", supported by the new 'Sunny the Sotong' mascot (see below for details). This calls for Singaporeans to follow three steps when planning for their travels: 

  • Always buy travel insurance – for those who engage a travel agent, ensure that your travel insurance covers travel agent insolvency
  • Check if your travel agent is licensed and has the right licence – via the TRUST website[1]
  • Read through the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of your purchase – clarify any doubts you may have with your travel providers

​​​​"We want to encourage Singaporeans to be more vigilant with their travel purchases, even for trips that are short or perceived to be of 'low-risk'," said Ms Ong Ling Lee, Director, Travel Agents and Tourist Guides, STB. "By using an iconic local drama serial from the 90s and introducing a catchy message and relatable mascot, we hope to engage travellers of all ages and remind them of the importance of safeguarding themselves against unexpected situations."

Always buy travel insurance

A recent study commissioned by STB found that among those who bought travel packages, almost everyone (97%, up from 93% in 2016) is aware of travel insurance. While the percentage of respondents who have purchased travel insurance before has grown, one in 10 still have never ever purchased a travel insurance policy, putting themselves at risk before and during their vacations. 

The survey, conducted from September to October 2017, aims to assess the perception and behaviours of 600 Singaporeans who had purchased travel packages from a travel agent in the past year. 

While there were some improvements in attitude towards buying travel insurance, short duration of trips and perceived 'low-risk' destinations remain the most cited reasons for not buying travel insurance, at 38% and 28% respectively. 

​The survey also found a slight increase in awareness of the travel agent insolvency clause in travel insurance policies. This is coupled with an improvement in the percentage of respondents who looked out for the travel agent insolvency clause when purchasing travel insurance, but the number remains low at only one in four. 

Additionally, the perceived low risk of a travel agent closing down was the main barrier to purchasing travel insurance with an insolvency clause.

​​Mr. Gany Subramaniam, Senior Vice President, Head of Personal Insurance, Southeast Asia, at AIG Asia Pacific Insurance Pte. Ltd. echoed similar trend of increased awareness on the importance of travel insurance, "Last year, we saw a high single digit year-on-year growth on the take up for travel insurance. Consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of unforeseen events happening around the world such as natural disasters. Hence, they see greater need for travel insurance so as to enjoy their holidays worry free". 

"In the same period, we also noted that 3 in 4 claims made were for medical expenses for policyholders travelling to neighbouring countries like Malaysia. Likewise, some might perceive Australia as a low-risk destination, but our data shows that 1 in 2 claims made were primarily medical claims for policyholders travelling to Australia. Clearly, no matter where or how far consumers are travelling to, they are susceptible to destination risks. We encourage travellers to take the necessary precautions such as buying travel insurance to protect themselves from unforeseen circumstances." 

Check if your travel agent is licensed

Results also showed that there are still one in four respondents putting themselves at risk by not checking if their travel agent is licensed. This includes:

  • Safety risk: unlicensed travel agents may not follow industry standards and engage with partners that could endanger your safety

With the latest amendments to the Travel Agents Act and Regulations, all travel agents are required to indicate licence information in their official documents such as invoices and receipts. Travel agents are also required to provide consumers with a receipt and a separate itemised list of components, when receiving payment or a deposit amounting to $500 or more per person. STB urges consumers to use this information and check their licence against the TRUST website to safeguard themselves against travel mishaps.  

Read through the terms and conditions (T&Cs)

The survey found that less than half of the respondents are reading and clarifying terms and conditions. This is even more evident among older travellers. 

The following are some common T&Cs that consumers should pay attention to:

  1. Quality of packages – to avoid disappointment, be clear on what is offered to you, such as quality of hotel and coach services
  2. Refund/Cancellation policies – the amount of compensation and the time taken for the compensation to be paid may vary for different travel agencies
  3. What your trip itineraries entail – for example, what type of shopping stops you will be making, whether the fees for meals and admission to attractions are included, or the amount of time that will be spent travelling from one attraction to another. 

Launching with "The Unbeatables"

To connect the campaign messages with Singaporeans, the campaign features three re-dubbed snippets of the popular local drama serial, The Unbeatables. Leveraging nostalgia and humour through the use of dramatic scenes from the show, the videos highlight the three steps that travellers should take to avoid unforeseen travel mishaps. 

Don't Travel Blur, Travel Sure: Sunny the Sotong

To remind Singaporeans to take action, the campaign also launches the public message, Don't Travel Blur Travel Sure, with a travel mascot, Sunny the Sotong, and the hashtag #DontTravelBlurTravelSure.

Sunny represents the 'blur' travellers. However, unlike his brothers and sisters, the mascot is the smartest 'sotong' in the sea. He has a no-nonsense approach to taking travel precautions and knows that protection lies in the details. His 'blur' appearance belies his careful and cautious nature. 

Sunny the Sotong mascot will be used as the face of the campaign to remind consumers to "Don't Travel Blur, Travel Sure", and will be in all campaign creative materials. 

Please visit the website for more information on the campaign, and the necessary precaution measures for all travellers.


[1] Travel Related Users' System (TRUST) provides up-to-date information on all licensed travel agents in Singapore, including contact details such as office addresses, office telephones and email addresses.​

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