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Is Travel Insurance worth it? Figuring it out on Common Cents

Does your pre-travel routine include buying travel insurance? It’s a habit I picked up from my parents and personally I have been quite thankful for having travel insurance when stuff went missing and baggage got delayed (over 24 hours in my flying attire and meeting a bunch of brand new travel blogger friends? That’s one way to leave an impression…)

So when I was approached to be a part of Common Cents, a weekly TV series on Mediacorp Channel 5 to be that layman representative on screen who helps the audience learn more about what exactly travel insurance entails, I was quite happy to do so because I was honestly quite curious to learn more myself. Even if it meant spending an entire day filming from morning to evening straight after a week of travel in Hong Kong!

You can watch the episode right here on MeWatch, but I thought I’d tell you a little more about what I learned from the whole process. Read on! Sorry about some of the low quality shots, but Toggle only plays the low res version for some reason…


I already knew this from my times in school when we did video assignments and an entire day’s work gets edited down into a 3 minute clip. This time around was no exception – I got back home from the airport around midnight and after unpacking, slept at around 2am (which is actually normal for me). The next morning I had to wake up early to run some errands and make myself look presentable (as compared to looking rather bleary eyed which is my normal morning look) as the film crew came over to catch this blogger in her natural habitat.

Common Cents - Interview at Home
My mother took this picture and sent it to the family, spying on me from upstairs
Common Cents - Filming
Me filming the filmers

My mother in particular was very amused by all these on-goings and that her daughter was gonna be on TV. She even set the record-function on the home TV so she could catch this episode when she’s back from her quick jaunt to Bangkok.

Common Cents - Magnets arranging longshot
One of the more unique features in our house is our collection of magnets from all over the world. I can spot some of my contributions – Taiwan, Lisbon, Bali, Montpellier…
Common Cents - magnets arranging
Close-up of the magnets

You’ll see bits of my house throughout the first intro segment, and the design is largely my mother’s doing (no interior designer!) and you should know too that the magnet wall is her brainchild and represents our travels as a family (they’re not all mine!)

Common Cents - in Room
Observing the blogger in her natural habitat – this is where you’re likely to find me at home! I will admit my room isn’t usually so neat though

My room however, I can proudly say is all me. Long time readers might notice familiar items from The Occasional Traveller Shop – you can clearly see that I started the online shop as an excuse to buy all these pretty items for myself :P

Common Cents - Blogging Bed
Yes this is how I blog, though I’m not usually so well dressed and sitting so daintily. I’m really fond of my world map bedsheets that I pondered about getting for so long (got them with Black Friday discounts from Deny Designs, designed by Bianca Green!)
Common Cents - Bookshelf
My room’s main feature is my bookshelves, which unfortunately do get a tad dusty but I like being able to see all my books. Can you spot the Geografia globes?
Common Cents - Wall Map
My felt Pinworld wall map and a bunch of my instagram shots printed out. Usually you’d see some of my niece’s drawings on the wall but it was a bit distracting for this shot
Common Cents - Photos Calendar
More of my printed instagram shots! Recognize where they are from? Also, vintage maps calendar was an xmas gift thanks to Y


We had lunch and then adjourned over to Bras Basah to do some cutaway shots that you’ll see at the end of the clip. Ostensibly it’s me doing trip research for my next trip, though I’ll be the first to say that I do everything online these days and rarely pick up a guidebook before a trip (I find them more useful on the trip itself when you’re figuring out what there is to do in the area). We were running early and I had some time to do some writing before we headed off to the next location.

Common Cents - Book store longshot
Recognize the store? We’re in Knowledge Book Centre
Common Cents - Book Store Browsing
Here I am, ‘casually browsing’ as I head over to the travel guides section

Thanks to Hansel who loaned me the dress for the shoot – the polka dot halter is from designer Jo Soh’s collection A Vase of Flowers – A lot of the dresses you see me wearing in my photos are Hansel dresses as I’m a big fan, though I haven’t shopped this latest collection yet. Sadly I didn’t get to keep the dress but I really like it, it’s very comfortable and quite flattering. (I ended up buying my own piece eventually, though sadly Hansel is now a defunct brand… sad!)

Common Cents - Puerto Rico
I’m apparently researching for my next trip. To be honest, Puerto Rico hasn’t really been on my radar, but I guess I have to go check it out now, right? :P I randomly pulled a book from the shelf

Firstly we headed over to Sushi Airways in Kampong Glam where I spoke to insurance agent Yen Yen about why travel insurance is important and how one could pick the right travel insurance for themselves. The video tells it better than I do, but the short version is that there’s no real short cut to picking what’s right for you except by looking at the fine print and making sure the important stuff pertaining to the way you travel isn’t excluded! Bummer~

Yen Yen did tell me though that it might be better leaving all the work to your insurance agent – it doesn’t actually cost more to go through an agent than it does to buy online, so if you are lazy and rather have some one pore over the fine print for you, that might be worth exploring!

Common Cents - Yen Yen Interview
I mostly spend these segments asking questions and nodding like I’m listening. My sister spent a lot of time laughing at my ‘earnest nodding’ and weird facial tics
Common Cents - with Yenyen
More relaxed after the interview – the edamame peas were purely for show hahaha

Then we went over to 1925 near the Jalan Besar area which is one of those old-new hipster looking joints with distressed walls and artfully scuffed furniture. Cool vibe though~ Here I met another insurance agent called Joe. Nice guy who was definitely more relaxed when the camera was off him, but then again who isn’t more comfortable that way? We talked about how to go about making claims (make sure you have official reports and best to start making a habit of keeping receipts of more expensive stuff!), and that insurance doesn’t completely cover your losses, just lessens the pain some.

Common Cents - Joe
Joe on camera – he set up his own insurance company
Common Cents - with Joe
Chilling out after the interview, smiles of relief
Common Cents - with Joe 2
Here we are showing that we can do casual and candid shots hahaha



Finally we ended up at Witbier Cafe along Kandahar Street where host Steven Chia swung by to do a wrap up of what I learned – while the crew was setting up, we rewarded ourselves with a pint or two. He’s a nice dude and we hung out finishing our drinks while the crew zoomed back to the studio. He’s also really natural at being all casual, which I suppose comes with being on screen everyday~

Common Cents - Steven Chia Interview
Can you see the beer mug in the lower left corner? that was mine~
Common Cents - with Steven Chia
It’s a wrap!

After all that, I decided to check out my own existing travel insurance policy – I bought an annual plan from UOB because it was convenient and seemed fairly inclusive at the time. I was a bit tired at having to remember to buy my insurance, especially on these last minute trips that I went on for the blog and all, so having an annual plan made it one less thing to check off the list before leaving. I did look for clauses and exclusions – there didn’t seem to be any with regards to scuba diving, which is something I’m always looking out for, so that’s something to take note when I review.

Cost wise, my 5-7 trips in a year means that the annual (worldwide) and per-trip premiums are more or less the same, but I think if you’re a business traveller or only travel regional (in Asia), annual plans might be cheaper for you.

Anyway I hope you guys found the episode and these additional insights useful, am happy to try and offer some casual advice, but you’re better off speaking to your insurance experts for serious questions! My only advice is BUY IT – it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and in case stuff happens (Murphy’s Law dictates that it WILL at some point)

Big thanks to the crew of Vertigo Pictures who contacted me, shepherded me around all day and did the heavy lifting – Mark, Joanna, Alexander, Calvin, Elvin, Jason and Eve. Also props to the insurance experts Yen Yen and Joe for their insights, and it was fun hanging out for a pint with host Steven Chia too at the end.