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Convenience vs Coverage: Is Airline Travel Insurance Better Than Standalone Plans?

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 31 March, 2023

Airline travel insurance is no doubt convenient, but standalone travel plans offer several advantages, including potentially better fit for your needs. Here’s what to know when choosing between the two.

Airline travel insurance can be a viable option when it comes to insuring yourself against the risks of taking a trip. However, there are also some disadvantages compared to standalone travel plans, including higher cost, less choices, and the lack of add-ons.

As you can imagine, some of these disadvantages can render an airline travel insurance plan unsuitable. So why do airlines still offer them, and what type of passengers are they meant for?

At-a-glance: Airline Travel Insurance vs Standalone Travel Insurance

Airline travel insurance

Standalone travel insurance

More convenient, one-click to add to your plane ticket

Requires additional online purchase

Airlines middle-men fees may increase your final cost

No middle-men fees involved, leading to better value for you

Coverage sold as-is, can’t choose coverage level

Typically, three levels of coverage offered

May not include benefits you need, such as adventurous activities cover

Can add-on special benefits, but only if provider offers them

Convenience of purchase

This is really the only real advantage that airline travel insurance offers over standalone travel insurance; it is the quicker and more convenient way to obtain travel insurance.

Often, all you need to do is to click the check-box that says “Add travel insurance for $XX?” (or something similar). The cost of your travel plan will be added to your plane ticket at checkout.

In comparison, purchasing a standalone travel insurance policy will require making a separate online transaction at a provider’s website. You’ll want to look up several providers to check for promotions and deals, and while this provides an opportunity to do some comparison shopping, it nevertheless means you’ll need to spend more time and effort to obtain a travel plan for your trip.

Related to this topic: Where to Buy Travel Insurance (with COVID-19 Coverage) 2023: Insurers, Credit Card Rewards, or Airlines

Middleman fees

Airline travel insurance plans aren’t actually provided by the airlines themselves; instead they are offered (more accurately, underwritten) by insurance companies who are licensed to offer such products.

Hence, airlines are simply acting as a sales channel. In return for allowing an insurer to make a sales offer to customers buying tickets, airlines charge a commission, which is paid on every policy sold.

What this means is that a portion of the premiums for your airline travel policy is paid to your airline as a middleman fee. This, in turn means one of two things: you’re either paying a higher price, or you’re receiving reduced benefits and/or coverage because, hey, someone has to pay for the added cost.

You can avoid this problem by purchasing a standalone travel insurance plan directly from an insurer. This way, you won’t have to bear the cost of the airline’s middleman fee.

Related to this article: Travel Insurance Add-ons: Which Ones are Worth Your Money?


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Choice of coverage

Airline travel insurance is usually sold as an add-on to your plane ticket – just like a seat upgrade or extra luggage allowance. You may get a few lines highlighting your benefits, but that’s about it.

That’s by design – just like how supermarkets always stock the shelves next to the checkout with your favourite candy bars, in the hope you’ll grab some on your way out, airlines are banking on you making an impulse purchase by inserting the travel insurance offer right before you complete your plane ticket purchase.

But hey, just because it’s an impulse buy doesn’t make it a bad thing. But, when it comes to travel insurance, buying on impulse rarely turns out to be the best choice.

Besides getting lesser value for your dollar (see above), you also have to accept the plan that is offered to you as it is, without the ability to choose your level of coverage.

This can be a problem if the airline travel insurance plan does not offer sufficient cover for you and those travelling with you. Should your family require emergency medical attention that exceeds the coverage limits of your travel plan, you will have to pay the remaining difference out of your own pocket.

Standalone travel plans commonly come in three tiers, offering lower, medium and higher levels of coverage. The benefits offered may also vary – with lower tier plans offering a narrower range of benefits, and higher tiers providing a broader scope of protection.

Hence, you will have a greater chance of finding a closer fit to your needs among the three plan tiers, instead of being restricted to only one standard plan.

Related to this topic: 5 Best Travel Insurance in Singapore for Different Needs (2023)

Availability of add-ons

Airline travel insurance also does not offer add-ons, which, once again, can leave you with a gap in your coverage – not a situation you want to be caught in.

Standalone travel insurance is more likely to offer the add-ons that you need, such as cover for adventurous activities, golfing equipment, or scuba diving.

Note though, that not all insurers offer the same selection of add-ons, so you may need to look up a few different providers.


Singlife Travel Insurance Promotion: Enjoy a 25% discount with the promo code TRAVEL25. Valid till 31 May 2023. T&Cs apply.

Should you choose airline travel insurance or standalone travel insurance?

The main flaw with airline travel plans is that they tend to be generic, so as to cater to the widest swath of travellers as possible. However, that doesn’t automatically make them a bad option.

The next time you encounter an airline travel insurance offer, take a few minutes to read through the policy document – paying attention to the table of benefits – so that you know what coverage you’ll be getting exactly.

If everything seems to fit your needs, going with an airline travel plan won’t be the worst idea – especially if you’re pressed for time.

You will, however, be paying the middleman fee, but for certain flights – such as short trips or to nearby locations – this fee may not be large enough to matter.

But if you prefer to have greater control over your travel insurance benefits, or need certain add-ons, or simply want to see what promotions and offers are out there, taking the time to sit down and research your options will likely be worth it.

Read these next:

Best Annual Travel Insurance Plans In Singapore (2023)

Travel Insurance Guide: Five Things All Travellers Must Know

Common Mistakes When Buying Travel Insurance that could Cost you Money

4 Things to Do to Help Your Travel Insurance Claims Go Through

Tiq Travel Insurance Review: Value-For-Money Travel Plan With Cover For Pre-Existing Conditions

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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