Best COVID-19 Travel Insurance for Korea 2023
Besides Seoul, which is probably the most popular holiday destination in Korea amongst BTS fans or other Kpop and Kdrama fans, there are many other beautiful and exciting spots for a vacation or even a business trip.
From its scenic Jeju Island to the chic cafes in the cities, Korea is a great place that beckons many adventures whether you’re going on a solo trip or visiting with friends and family. As you begin planning for a trip there, do remember to get your visa and compare COVID-19 travel insurance coverage before you take off on your flight.
COVID-19 Travel Requirements To Enter Korea
Ever since the Embassy of the Republic of Korea announced that all travellers can enjoy quarantine-free travel to Korea on 31 August this year, there has been changes in requirements for travellers entering Korea, and that includes certified COVID-19 vaccination, mandatory PCR tests, travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage, specific certified hotels to book for quarantine, and other procedures that we’ll cover here to better prepare you for your trip to Korea.
Regardless of age, all travellers are required to register for Q-Code, at least 1 day before your flight. A QR code will be issued to your email after registration. You may refer to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea'sQ-Code User Manual for more details if you're unsure of how to do it.
Vaccination and quarantine requirements
Although you’re no longer required to provide a pre-departure COVID-19 test result as a traveller entering South Korea, an on-arrival PCR test within 24 hours of arrival is mandatory.
The PCR test (which you'll have to pre-book online) has to be taken at Incheon Airport or Gimhae Airport or Jeju International Airport (depending on where you arrive at), or at a medical institution near your accommodation. During the wait for the PCR result, you do not have to stay in a quarantine facility/designated hotel (which was the case before 01 June 2022) allowed to carry on activities before or after taking your PCR test at the specified locations. After you've received your PCR test result via email, you'll need to upload it to the Q-Code website.
Korea is pretty strict about this as you could be imprisoned for one year or face a fine of up to KRW10 million if you forget to/refuse to follow this on-arrival PCR test procedure. In the situation where your on-arrival test result is positive, you’ll need to contact the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency at +82-2-2633-1339 or the public health centre, and the staff will advise you from there.
Travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage
Similar to some countries like Japan, travel insurance is not compulsory for a traveller to enter Korea. Despite that, it’s still strongly recommended as you never know when you may fall ill (and get infected but other unknown viruses which may be something like COVID-19 when it first started) or get into an accident). It’s still safer to be insured against any possibilities and you may save on costly medical fees overseas, whether associated with COVID-19 treatments or not in Korea.
VISA or K-ETA
Single or multiple entry visas are available for application, however, it can only be done in person or via appointed visa agents (depending on what type of visa you’re applying for). Online application for visas to Korea is not available at the moment. To check if you need to do it in person or through an appointed visa agent, you can refer to this checklist.
It’ll usually take about 4 working days to process visa applications, but an additional turnaround time of 1 to 2 days is needed when submitting through an appointed visa agent.
If you’re from one of the countries (visa waiver for Singaporeans has been reinstated since 2021) which are on a visa-free entry agreement with Korea, you’ll only need to apply for a K-ETA instead of a visa. The K-ETA application fee is KRW10,000 KRW per person (which is about USD9-10) additional charges are not included) and you can use your credit cards or debit cards such as VISA, MASTER, JCB, or AMEX to pay for it online.
Your K-ETA is valid for 2 years once issued and it can be used for multiple times within its validity. So you do not have to apply for a K-ETA again if you travel to Korea again in the next 2 years from your date of issuance, unless you renewed your passport.
Requirements for Air Travel to Korea
Travelling by air to Korea includes several requirements that include:
- Approved visa (in person/via appointed visa agent) or K-ETA visa that is issued via the Korea Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)system
- Wearing masks on inbound international flights to Korea and when you're indoors and on public transport upon arrival in Korea. You may face a fine of KRW100,000 if you fail to wear a mask
- Medical insurance that covers COVID-19 related medical and evacuation expenses is strongly recommended although not mandatory
How To Choose Travel Insurance With COVID-19 Coverage For Korea?
When it comes to picking a travel insurance plan with COVID-19 coverage for your Korea trip, there are definitely more factors to consider as it’s different from the usual coverage. If you’ve yet to get a travel insurance plan with COVID-19 coverage, you can choose to buy COVID-19 coverage either as an add-on benefit or as part of an existing plan which you already have.
Here are 5 steps to help you get started:
Check your plan has COVID-19 extension
Although price is one of the important things to consider, you should also keep in mind the necessary benefits and reimbursement limits for claims like COVID-19 related medical expenses, trip cancellations, flight delays and baggage theft and/or damage, and make sure that they are adequate for your travel needs in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
Get insured for any pre-existing conditions
COVID-19 related situations may affect any pre-existing condition that you and/or your family members may have, and only a few travel insurers will cover you for claims relating to your pre-existing medical conditions such as pregnancy, injuries or illnesses sustained during the trip if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19.
It’s safer to get a travel insurance plan with COVID-19 coverage which will give you in-patient hospitalisation expenses overseas coverage that allows you to claim for medical, surgical, nursing or hospital charges, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation coverage.
Do a comparison of policy premiums
The total cost of your travel insurance plan really depends on your destination and length of stay. Most travel insurance companies have 2 to 3 tiers of plans at different price points, with varying comprehensiveness and reimbursement limits, so you can select one that suits you best.
Consider coverage of sporting activities
Korea is a great place for many activities including water sports and extreme sports, but the breadth of coverage needed largely depends on your itinerary. For instance, if you’re planning to go paragliding or skydiving over the beautiful volcanic cones of Jeju, make sure you get a policy that covers aerial sports like MSIG’s TravelEasy® Standard, Elite and Premier plans.
Ensure coverage for trip cancellation, flight delay and damage/loss of baggage
Given that Korea is prone to many natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, droughts, landslides, snowstorms, tsunamis and earthquakes, it’ll be wiser to have coverage of damage or loss of belongings as well as trip cancellation or postponement and flight delay due to natural disasters.
Best Korea Travel Insurance With COVID-19 Coverage
Best Korea Travel Insurance Benefits Coverage
|Best for||Travel insurance plan||Estimated premium rate|
|COVID-19 coverage and medical coverage||Allianz Travel Comprehensive Bronze, Silver and Platinum plans, Starr TraveLead Comprehensive Bronze, Silver and Gold plans||$76 - $195 (Allianz’s plans inclusive of COVID-19 coverage), $53 - $91 (Starr’s plans inclusive of COVID-19 coverage)|
|Budget travel||FWD Premium plan, Starr TraveLead Comprehensive Bronze||$42 (FWD Premium), $53 (Starr TraveLead Comprehensive Bronze)|
|Overall good value||Bubblegum travel insurance plan||$54|
|Extreme sports||MSIG TravelEasy® Standard, Elite, Premier plans||$127 - $231|
|Pre-existing conditions||Etiqa Pre-Ex Entry, Savvy and Luxury plans||$165 - $263|
|Flexibility||AIG Travel Guard® Basic, Standard, Enhanced, Supreme plans||$90 - $197|
|Travelling while pregnant||MSIG TravelEasy® Standard Pre-Ex, Elite Pre-Ex, Premier Pre-Ex plans||$133 - $220|
|Family||FWD First Family Plan||$97|
|Elderly||MSIG TravelEasy® Standard Pre-Ex, Elite Pre-Ex, Premier Pre-Ex plans||$133 - $220|
|Flight diversion/cancellation/postponement||FWD Premium Plan||$42|
|*Estimated premium rates are based on a 2-week single trip plan to South Korea.|
What Is The Average Cost Of A COVID-19 Travel Insurance For South Korea?
|Travel insurance provider||Medical expenses due to COVID-19 coverage||Overseas quarantine allowance due to COVID-19||Overseas hospital cash due to COVID-19||Trip cancellation due to COVID-19||Total premium|
|Bubblegum||Up to $150,000||$100 per day||$100 per day||Up to $5,000||$54|
|FWD||Up to $1,000,000||N.A.||$200 per day||Up to $1,000||$42 - $79|
|Starr||Up to $1,000,000||N.A.||$200 per day||Up to $15,000||$53 - $91|
|Singlife||Unlimited||$500 total cap||$200 per day||Up to $20,000||$73 - $147|
|Allianz||Up to $1,000,000||N.A.||N.A.||Up to $15,000||$76 - $195|
|AIG||Up to $2,500,000||$1,400 total cap||N.A.||Up to $1,000||$90 - $197|
|*Estimated premium rates are based on a 2-week single trip plan to South Korea, and our round-up of the 6 best travel insurance plans for Korea with COVID-19 coverage, that you can get in Singapore.|
As you compare across the 6 travel insurers’ benefits and premiums, the average cost of a travel insurance plan with COVID-19 coverage for a 2-week trip is about $65, assuming that we take the most basic plan offered by each travel insurance provider.
Estimated average cost of a travel insurance plan:
$18 + $30 + $64 + $42 + $25 + $32 = $388
$388 ÷ 6 = $64.66
FWD, Bubblegum and Starr may be more suitable if you’re looking at more cost-efficient options. Moreover, the medical expenses coverages by FWD and Starr are quite reasonable with a maximum limit of $1,000,000, which are considered the average among these 6 travel insurances.
If you’re looking for even more comprehensive coverage for medical expenses in the situation that you get diagnosed with COVID-19, Singlife’s Prestige plan has the most generous coverage which is unlimited. However, when it comes to claiming benefits for trip cancellation if you’re down with COVID-19, Starr, Allianz and Singlife will provide higher coverages of up to $20,000 and $15,000 respectively for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to take a PCR test to enter Korea?
- Yes, an on-arrival PCR test within 24 hours of arrival is mandatory. The PCR test (which you ‘ll have to pre-book online) has to be taken at Incheon Airport or Gimhae Airport or Jeju International Airport, or at a medical institution near your accommodation.
Are PCR tests covered by travel insurance for Korea?
Yes and no. It depends on the travel insurance provider you pick. For example, insurers like AXA and AIG do not cover expenses incurred for mandatory COVID-19 diagnostic tests or any pre-departure or post-departure testing.
On the other hand, insurers like MSIG that offer free PCR test coverage for some of their plans i.e. Annual Trip plans. Others like NTUC Income travel insurance offer COVID-19 (PCR) swab tests at $124.2 along with a series of other types of pre-departure tests.
How do I get COVID-19 coverage for my Korea travel insurance?
- You can get COVID-19 coverage either through your preferred travel insurance mobile app, website or insurance agent. Most insurance companies give the option for you to either get COVID-19 coverage as an add-on benefit or as part of an existing insurance plan. Some travel insurance companies offer COVID-19 coverage as an add-on benefit to an existing plan, while others include COVID-19 coverage benefits in their range of travel insurance plans.
Are quarantine stays covered by travel insurance?
- Most insurers provide overseas quarantine allowance in the COVID-19 travel insurance plans that they offer.
Is Korea safe to visit?
- Yes and no. Like many travel destinations, Korea is prone to many natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, droughts, landslides, snowstorms, tsunamis and earthquakes, it will be safe to get travel insurance coverage of damage or loss of belongings as well as trip cancellation or postponement and flight delay.