Travel Insurance

Here’s Why You Should Never Buy Travel Insurance From Airlines

airline travel insurance

Joanne Poh

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Travel insurance is supposed to give you peace of mind, but for all those people who just passively buy the travel insurance policy offered by the airline they’re buying tickets on without even bothering to read what they’re getting, peace of mind might be the only thing they actually get.

The thing is, the travel insurance plans airlines push are usually designed to be as bare-bones as possible—after all, nobody is going to sign up for them if they cost more than the air ticket.

We compare the travel insurance Tiger Airways tries to get you to sign up for, TigerInsure, with a standard NTUC Income travel insurance plan to see just what’s missing.

 

Pre-existing medical conditions

As much as we might like to think we’re in perfect health (those are ab lines, okay?), a diet of roti prata and Tiger Beer can take its toll after a few years, and before you know it you’re leaving for your trip with a bunch of pre-existing medical conditions.

TigerInsure does not provide coverage in the event of health issues arising from your pre-existing medical conditions. While both TigerInsure and the NTUC basic plan will let you make a claim if you’re kidnapped by terrorists or get run over by a tuk-tuk, only the NTUC plan gives you money if your incipient heart disease causes you to collapse during your holiday.

 

Trip disruption

Most basic travel insurance plans will let you claim money if your travel plans change due to unforseen circumstances, but read the fine print and you might find that some plans cover a wider range of situations than others.

For instance, both TigerInsure and the NTUC plan will give you a payout of your trip is cancelled, postponed, delayed or cut short, but only the NTUC one does so if your trip is disrupted while you are overseas, for instance if you fall seriously ill, get caught in a riot or strike or are unlucky enough to find yourself at the scene of an earthquake or epidemic. The travel insurance company will pay for any extra air tickets or accommodation that will help you to continue your trip as planned.

 

Missed connections

If you’re travelling on budget airlines, you might have found yourself running from one flight to another just because there were no direct flights from Singapore to Vientiane or the Gold Coast. This often entails booking two separate flights, which means that if you miss one you’re screwed.

While the NTUC insurance policy will compensate you for missed connections, TigerInsure is completely silent, which means you could find yourself stranded at the airport like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Actually, given the high cost of living in Singapore, spending the rest of your life in an airport doesn’t sound so bad….

 

Overbooked flights and public transport

If you’re travelling to multiple cities or countries on one trip, spending the night on the floor of a hobo-filled train station becomes a very real possibility. Scrutinise your TigerInsure policy and you might discover that you’re not be able make any claims for overbooked transport.

In the event of an overbooked flight, Tiger Airways themselves will give you a travel voucher of $100 as compensation and try to get you on the next available flight, but that’s not going to go very far to soothe the pain of wasted accommodation or a shortened trip. You are also unprotected if you are denied boarding on other kinds of transport like overnight trains or long distance buses. The NTUC insurance policy solves this issue by letting you make claims for any kind of overbooked transport.

 

Kidnap and hostage

Okay, we know chances are pretty slim that you’ll be kidnapped or taken hostage, but hey, it would really suck to know you weren’t getting compensated for it just because you decided to save $12 on insurance.

 

Personal liability

We all do stupid things overseas. That’s part of the joy of being away from our straight-laced home here. Driving scooters without licences, drinking to the point of near-collapse, smoking anything and everything—chances are you’ve been there and done that.

So what happens when you do something that could get you sued? Maybe you ran over someone with your rental scooter or accidentally burned down the go-go bar in your drunken stupor?

Personal liability coverage will cover the cost of your legal fees and any amounts you get successfully sued for. The very basic TigerInsure policy doesn’t include this, so make sure you’re on your best behaviour.

 

Which is cheaper?

The cheapest travel insurance plan from NTUC Insurance for a three-day trip to Thailand would cost $28.50. On the other hand, purchasing TigerInsure for the same trip would set you back only $16.99. Is it worth paying that extra $11.51? You be the judge.

But if you want to really be smart about things, all you need is 5 minutes to find out the best travel insurance packages on MoneySmart’s Travel Insurance Wizard (and you’ll also realise that NTUC’s plan isn’t as good as most people make it out to sound). Make sure you do your homework first before going on any more trips!

Do you ever buy the travel insurance policies the airlines try to sell you? Tell us why or why not in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.