Anyone who’s ever bought air tickets online knows that, just before you check out and pay for your tickets, airlines like to persuade you buy a “very special” travel insurance policy put together just for their passengers.
But the travel insurance plans pushed by airlines are usually not great, offering barely-there protection that’s designed to avoid giving you payouts except in the most unavoidable situations.
That’s why we’re so suspicious about the travel insurance plan that Singapore Airlines has been trying to get its customers to buy.
Recently, the airline caused a furor when it was revealed that they had an online booking feature that sneakily auto-included travel insurance.
In order to avoid buying the insurance, customers had to take the extra step to click and opt out.
The feature has since been removed due to customer complaints—understandably so, as this is a trick that seems more up the alley of cheapo budget airlines (not to mention anti-competitive), and not an airline where people pay a huge premium for better service.
That leads us to wonder how good or how bad this travel insurance that SIA has been willing to hoodwink people into buying really is.
All passengers who are residents of Singapore and flying out of Singapore for trips of not more than 182 days are eligible for SIA’s special Travel Guard Insurance. We’ll compare it with a the standard NTUC Income Travel insurance plan to see how it measures up.
Decent medical coverage, but no option to protect yourself from pre-existing conditions
Most people buy travel insurance so they won’t have to politely decline an ambulance ride in favour of hailing a cab to the hospital if their flaming alcohol escapade goes awry.
One glaring problem with the SIA policy is that if you have pre-existing conditions, you don’t have the option of getting protected if you suffer from a related health complication abroad.
The NTUC Income one does give you that option, by allowing you to purchase a more expensive Enhanced PreX plan, which will cover indicated pre-existing medical conditions.
Unless you have clean bill of health, a six-pack and a perfectly symmetrical smile, you might want to think about whether you have any health issues that might warrant taking out an enhanced travel insurance plan.
Decent personal accident benefits
SIA’s travel insurance policy actually gives you okay personal accident coverage, compared to standard policies like NTUC’s.
The quantum of possible payouts when you die or get permanently disabled is similar to that offered by the NTUC policy, and they also offer public transport double cover, in case you get into a fatal or permanently disabling accident on public transport.
Trip disruption coverage a bit lacking
While the SIA policy does offer payouts for travel cancellation, postponement, curtailment and interruption, there are a few omissions that will leave you high and dry if your travel plans go awry.
For instance, there is no compensation for missed connections or overbooked public transport.
Of course, diehard SQ fans might argue that you’ll never miss a flight connection or end up on an overbooked flight when you’re flying with them. But yeah you know, famous last words and all that jazz. That’s why you’re buying travel insurance in the first place right, so might as well find a travel insurance policy that also covers that gap.
Some types of protection only open to KrisFlyer members
Talk about being treated like a second class customer. Some categories of protection are only open to KrisFlyer members.
These include hospital income if you get warded, fraudulent credit card usage coverage, additional accidental death and permanent disablement benefits, treatment by a physician and kidnapping, hostage and hijack coverage.
Yes, it is true that a KrisFlyer membership is free and can be signed up for on the spot.
But this tactic to get customers to sign up as members—by denying them insurance coverage if they don’t—stinks of the recent fiasco where Singapore Airlines announced it would start charging a 1.3% service fee for credit card bookings, only to later retract it after a public uproar.
Would you prefer to use SIA’s travel insurance or buy your own? Tell us in the comments!