Best COVID-19 Travel Insurance Japan 2023 — Get Ready for Your Japan Trip
Singaporeans love Japan. Aside from viewing beautiful sakura blooms in Spring, we love exploring the urban metropolis of Tokyo, visiting the old Japanese shrines at Kyoto, and skiing on powder snow in Hokkaido. Eating awesome Japanese foods such as sushi, ramen, okonomiyaki and yakiniku in their land of origin also excites us to no end. After you’ve booked your flight to the land of the rising sun, don’t forget to buy travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage!
COVID-19 Travel Requirements To Enter Japan
Since the official announcement by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida about further lifting of border measures that will kick in on 11 October, there has been changes in the entry requirements for travellers. These changes include certified COVID-19 vaccination, quarantine for specific types of travellers, the purchase of travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage, mandatory COVID-19 tests, and other procedures which we will cover shortly.
Vaccination and quarantine requirements
A proof of COVID-19 Vaccination is a must for all travellers to enter Japan and if you’re not fully vaccinated with a valid certificate, you’ll have to do a COVID-19 test and submit a certificate of negative test result conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival in Japan.
Although travel insurance is not required to travel to Japan as a tourist, it is recommended. However, if you’re travelling to Japan on the Business or Residence Track, special (suspended) entry frameworks created in response to COVID-19, may include a mandatory travel insurance coverage.
To travel to Japan as a tourist, you’ll need to apply for a single or multiple-entry visa, unless you’re from one of the countries which are on visa exemption agreements with Japan. Due to COVID-19, visa exemption measures with all countries have been temporarily suspended for a while, but visa waivers will be reinstated from 11 October 2022, so Singaporeans no longer have to apply for a visa if they’re planning to visit Japan in October. Travellers will also not be required to submit applications through the Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System (ERFS) anymore from 11 October onwards.
In the meantime, you can keep a lookout for the latest updates on visa exemptions on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s website.
Requirements for Air Travel to Japan
Travelling by air to Japan includes several requirements that include:
- A valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate
- A valid negative PCR test result (The test must be taken within 72 hours before your departure and this applies only to those who are not fully vaccinated)
- Mandatory wearing of masks in public areas
- Approved visa
- Medical insurance that covers COVID-19 related medical and evacuation expenses (only applicable for certain special entry frameworks)
How To Choose Travel Insurance With COVID-19 Coverage For Japan?
There are many more things to consider now as compared to buying travel insurance prior to the COVID-19 pandemic such as overseas hospital allowance, flight delays or trip cancellation due to COVID-19 diagnosis, and many more. Here are 6 steps to help you get started:
Bring along your COVID-19 vaccination certificate
Unlike many countries which require you to be fully vaccinated before arrival, Japan’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements have much lesser procedures which include submitting a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or submitting a certificate of negative test result (if you’re not fully vaccinated) conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival in Japan.
Check if your coverage includes COVID-19 extension
Pricing may be important when considering a COVID-19 travel insurance plan, the benefits and reimbursement limits for claims like COVID-19 related medical expenses, trip cancellations, flight delays and baggage theft and/or damage, are equally essential especially during this pandemic period.
Ensure any pre-existing conditions are covered
With only a couple of travel insurers that provide coverage 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, you’ll enjoy greater savings on medical expenses and more convenience as COVID-19 related situations may impact whatever pre-existing condition you and your family members may have.
These benefits include in-patient hospitalisation expenses overseas 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 amount that you need to fork out for your travel insurance costs 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.
Get special activities coverage
Japan is not just about shopping and eating, but it’s also a great place for many activities including water sports and extreme sports, but the breadth of coverage needed largely depends on your Japan itinerary. For instance, if you’re planning to go diving around the beautiful islands of Okinawa, make sure you get a policy that covers diving sports like MSIG’s TravelEasy® Standard, Elite and Premier plans.
Be insured for trip cancellation, flight delay and damage/loss of baggage
As Japan is located along the Circum-Pacific Mobile Belt where seismic and volcanic activities are frequent, it is prone to earthquakes, so coverage of damage or loss of belongings as well as trip cancellation or postponement and flight delay due to natural disasters are recommended.
Best Japan Travel Insurance With COVID-19 Coverage
Best Japan Travel Insurance Benefits Coverage
Getting travel insurance is not required for most travellers going to Japan, but it is still strongly recommended to be covered with COVID-19 travel insurance if you’re entering Japan for leisure or for business. While some insurance plans come with affordable premiums, others offer more extensive coverage such as those with pre-existing conditions coverage or even having the highest overseas medical coverage in the market. Let’s take a look at what’s available and suitable for your Japan trip.
*The below estimated premium rates are based on a 5D4N single trip plan to Japan.
|Best for||Travel insurance plan||Estimated premium rate|
Starr TraveLead Comprehensive Bronze, Silver and Gold plans
Allianz Travel Comprehensive Bronze, Silver and Platinum plans
$28 - $49 (Starr’s plans inclusive of COVID-19 coverage)
$79 - $113 (Allianz’s plans inclusive of COVID-19 coverage)
|Budget travel||FWD Premium plan, Sompo Travel Essential plan||$24 (FWD Premium), $66 (Sompo Essential)|
|Overall good value||Bubblegum Travel Insurance plan||$27|
|Extreme sports||MSIG TravelEasy® Standard, Elite, Premier plans||$59 - $118|
|Pre-existing conditions||Etiqa Pre-Ex Entry, Savvy and Luxury plans||$95 - $151|
|Highest overseas medical coverage||AIG Travel Guard® Basic, Standard, Enhanced, Supreme plans||$57 - $133|
|Travelling while pregnant||MSIG TravelEasy® Standard Pre-Ex, Elite Pre-Ex, Premier Pre-Ex plans||$61 - $112|
|Family||Etiqa Entry, Savvy and Luxury family plans||$88 - $150|
|Elderly||MSIG TravelEasy® Standard Pre-Ex, Elite Pre-Ex, Premier Pre-Ex plans||$61 - $112|
|Flight diversion/cancellation/postponement||FWD Premium Plan||$24|
What Is The Average Cost Of A COVID-19 Travel Insurance To Japan?
There are so many travel insurance plans that offer COVID-19 coverage benefits that it can get rather overwhelming trying to compare each and every one of them before deciding on one.
To get you started, we’ll use an example to illustrate (with our round-up of the 6 best travel insurance plans with COVID-19 coverage in Singapore). Let’s say that you’re planning to go for a 5D4N trip to Japan with your friends, and you’re getting a single trip insurance plan for yourself.
|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|
|FWD||Up to $100,000||N.A.||$200 per day||Up to $1,000||$24|
|Starr||Up to $1,000,000||N.A.||$200 per day||Up to $15,000||$28 - $49|
|Singlife||Up to $5,000,000||$500 total cap||$200 per day||Up to $20,000||$42 - $83|
|Bubblegum||Up to $150,000||$100 per day||$100 per day||Up to $5,000||$27|
|AIG||Up to $100,000||$1,400 total cap||N.A.||Up to $1,000||$57 - $133|
|Allianz||Up to $1,000,000||N.A.||N.A.||Up to $15,000||$79 - $113|
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 5D4N Japan trip is about $43, assuming that we take the most basic plan offered by each travel insurance provider.
Estimated average cost of a travel insurance plan:
$27 + $24 + $28 + $42 + $57 + $79 = $257
$257 ÷ 6 = $42.84
Bubblegum, FWD, and Starr may be more suitable if you’re looking at more economical options. When considering medical expenses coverage, those by Singlife and Starr are quite extensive with a hefty maximum limit of $5,000,000 and $1,000,000 respectively for medical expenses in the situation that you get diagnosed with COVID-19, which are among the higher ones among these 6 travel insurances.
As for claiming benefits for trip cancellation if you’re down with COVID-19, Starr, Singlife and Allianz will provide higher coverage of up to $20,000 or $15,000.
Where to Go in Japan 2023
Japan is very diverse. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and the Hokkaido area are popular places to go to for tourists. However, rural prefectures like Shizuoka and Kumamoto are also gaining in popularity.
The largest city in Japan
Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the largest city in the country. Close to 9 million people live here, and it is a fast-paced metropolis. There are endless things to do in Tokyo. Shop at Shibuya and Harajuku, visit a Pokemon Center, go to Disneyland or scale Mount Fuji.
Explore these cities together
The next popular cities in Japan for tourists are Osaka and Kyoto. Given their proximity, these two cities are often explored together. Osaka is known for street food and comedy shows while Kyoto is known for its beautiful shrines and the scenic spots like the bamboo forest.
Skiing & scenic spots
Explore the larger Hokkaido region through the city of Sapporo. As the most northern part of Japan, Hokkaido’s temperatures are colder than the rest of the country. Therefore, it sees more snowfall and later sakura blooms. Singaporeans love hitting up the ski slopes in Hokkaido thanks to the soft powder snow.
Japan Travel Tips
Heading to Japan soon? Here are some useful tips that can help you in planning your Japan trip.
Best time to go to Japan
The peak tourist season in Japan begins from June and tapers off at the end of August. During this period, there will be many Japanese festivals, which makes it a great time to visit Japan. However, places will likely be more crowded than usual.
For viewing of sakura blossoms, do your research based on the exact city or prefecture you’re going to as the blossom timing varies. For Tokyo’s sakura blossoms, visit during the end of March to the start of April. Many Singaporeans also love travelling to Japan in autumn and winter as the weather is cooling and great for sightseeing.
What to buy in Japan 2023
This really depends on your hobbies and tastes. For souvenirs/snacks, some popular items include Tokyo Banana, Shiroi Koibito, Bokksu snack boxes, and Ichiran instant ramen. Japan is also known for its wide range of cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
For those, go to shops like Matsumoto Kiyoshi and Don Quijote. Aside from these popular items, there are also niche items that people like to purchase from Japan, such as pottery from the prefecture of Fukuoka, stationery from Loft and handcrafted Japanese knives.
Best travel apps for Japan
If you don’t speak Japanese, definitely keep Google Translate in your library of apps as it will help you communicate with locals who aren't proficient in English. Getting around in Japan (especially Tokyo) can be confusing due to the many metro lines operated by different companies.
HyperDia and Japan Travel by NAVITIME apps are very useful for helping to plan your travels. Aside from Google Maps, Maps.me is another great alternative to have in Japan as it allows you to download area maps that you can access without Wi-Fi or data.
Renting a car in Japan
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is required for Singaporeans to drive in Japan. As it is illegal to drive without an original IDP, car rental companies won’t rent cars to foreigners who are unable to produce an IDP. If you are going to a rural part of Japan and will be renting a car, make sure that your travel insurance provides rental car excess cover.
Beware of credit card fraud
According to MFA’s report on Japan, crime rate is low but there have been occasional reports of foreigners being targeted for credit card fraud and extortion in Tokyo’s entertainment and nightlife districts, particularly Kabukicho. Aside from being careful when going through such areas, you can also make sure that your travel insurance covers this particular aspect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are COVID-19 tests covered in travel insurance?
This really depends on which travel insurance provider you choose. 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, there are a few insurers like MSIG that offer free PCR test coverage for some of their plans i.e. Annual Trip plans. Others like Income travel insurance offer COVID-19 (PCR) swab tests at $124.20 along with other types of pre-departure tests.
Do you need a visa to travel to Japan?
- Singaporeans can travel to Japan visa-free, up to 90 days. Citizens from 68 countries don’t need a visa to travel to Japan. But, if you’re from other countries such as China, Russia, Philippines or Vietnam, you need to apply for a visa before you go to Japan.
Is Japan open for travel?
- Yes, with effect from 11 October, all travellers, whether individual or group tours or business travellers, are allowed to enter Japan, as announced by recently by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on 22 September 2022.
Do Singaporeans need visa to enter Japan?
- No, Singaporeans don’t need a visa to enter Japan and can stay in Japan for up to 90 days. However, due to COVID-19, visa exemption measures with all countries (including Singapore) have been temporarily suspended, so you’ll have to apply for a single entry visa for the time being if you’re planning to visit Japan.
Does travel insurance cover car rental in Japan?
- Usually, car rental companies offer car insurance that covers accidents and breakdowns. However, you would have to pay an “excess”, which is an upfront payment. Some travel insurance policies provide rental car excess cover, which means that the travel insurance will pay this excess for you if you encounter an accident.
Is having travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage better for travelling?
Considering that we’re still in the current pandemic situation, yes. Every country, including Japan, has its own prevailing entry requirements including required vaccination status, serving quarantine measures, undergoing a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and other related procedures to ensure a safe entry for travellers.
Although it is not a must for all travellers to buy travel insurance when visiting Japan, having COVID-19 coverage in your travel insurance plan can provide you claim benefits for overseas medical expenses due to COVID-19, emergency medical evacuation & repatriation, overseas COVID-19 diagnosis quarantine allowance, overseas hospital cash due to COVID-19, trip cancellation/postponement/curtailment/disruption coverage due to COVID-19, and more.
What is the fastest way to get COVID-19 travel insurance coverage for my trip to Japan?
The quickest way to get COVID-19 coverage for your travel insurance is through your preferred travel insurance mobile app. Other ways include purchasing your COVID-19 travel insurance via the travel insurance company’s website or by contacting your insurance agent. You may 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.
Will quarantine stays in Japan be covered by my travel insurance?
- Most travel insurance plans include overseas quarantine allowance in the COVID-19 travel insurance coverage that they offer.
Do I need to be fully vaccinated to travel to Japan?
Yes and no. A proof of COVID-19 Vaccination is a must for some travellers to enter Japan while some do not need at all, depending on which designated countries you’re from (Red/Yellow/Blue categories).
However, all travellers, whether fully or partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all, need to do a COVID-19 test and submit a certificate of negative test result conducted within 72 hours prior to arrival in Japan.
Is Japan safe to visit?
- Yes and no. Travelling to and within every travel destination will involve some risks. As Japan is located on the Circum-Pacific Mobile Belt where seismic and volcanic activities are frequent, it is prone to earthquakes, and tsunamis do take place. Despite these natural disasters, Japan is a popular tourist destination.
Is it safe to travel to Japan when pregnant?
- Yes, it is safe to travel to Japan when pregnant. However, exercise caution when eating raw fish (sushi, sashimi) and check with your doctor if it is safe for you to enter onsens. Bring your necessary medication that is safe for pregnant women. There are some myths concerning high radiation levels in Japan that lead people into thinking that pregnant women should not travel to Japan. These are since debunked. The radiation levels of food and water are normal.