What is Flight Insurance?
Last updated on 10/18/2021
Airline Ticket Protection Explained
Flight insurance is a coverage option that is most often available as an add-on when booking an airline ticket, either from an airline directly or through a third-party site, like Expedia or Priceline. Flight insurance is a “light” type of coverage due to the lower plan limits compared to other options. Every insurance plan, including flight insurance, has a certificate that outlines what may be covered regarding unexpected events and the maximum value of the coverage. Collectively, this certificate describes the plan limits.
What Does Flight Insurance Cover?
For most flight insurance plans, the coverage is limited to unexpected events related to your air travel. In general, this type of policy covers flight delay, trip cancellation or trip interruption, and lost, damaged, or stolen luggage up to the plan limit. It also covers you if you’re not able to fly due to a documented medical reason on the date of your trip. Keep in mind that since the limits are low, it may leave some gaps in coverage.
How Does Flight Insurance Work?
One of the most important things to know when considering flight protection is that any benefits are secondary to what you might receive in compensation directly from the airline. In the case that conditions required the delay or cancellation of your flight, or you had a claim regarding lost or stolen baggage, you would be required to file a claim with the airline first for compensation under the “contract of carriage” that is part of your ticket booking and outlines how the airline must refund or compensate you above your ticket cost in various situations. Your flight insurance policy would then cover any difference between what the airline compensated you and the limit of your policy.
How Much Does Flight Insurance Cost?
The cost of flight insurance varies by the provider, whether it is offered by a third party or the airline itself. Although the cost may be very low compared to the cost of a flight, we’ve discussed previously in this article why you may want to consider comprehensive travel insurance instead. With comprehensive travel insurance you can insure all of your pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs for an average cost of 4-10% of your total trip cost. For example, a couple in their 50s traveling to Ireland for a ten day trip costing $5000 could insure their trip with a comprehensive plan starting at around $180, depending on the exact limits and exclusions in the plan.
Should I Get Flight Insurance?
While the cost of flight protection is low compared to other types of coverage, it’s important to consider the parts of your trip that come after your flight. If you have made a significant investment in your travel arrangements, flight insurance may leave you with some coverage gaps due to the relatively lower maximum value and narrower range of covered events. If you have trip costs related to a pre-booked excursion or non-refundable hotel costs, your total trip cost may easily exceed the plan maximum of airline insurance. It’s a good idea to consider other travel insurance coverages so that you can choose a plan fit your specific needs.
Since comprehensive travel insurance may offer higher limits on maximum plan value and a broader range of benefits, you can insure your whole trip including your flight. For example, if you are injured while on your trip, comprehensive travel insurance may provide reimbursement for covered medical expenses up to the plan limit, as well as coverage for transportation to another hospital if the closest one does not have adequate facilities to treat your condition, at the discretion of the insurance company and attending physician. All comprehensive plans also offer a 24-hour assistance line to travelers.
Travel Insurance & Drone Disruptions
When it comes to compensation, travelers can request compensation from the airline if it was delayed or canceled due to a security threat, like drones. However, in the case of these types of disruptions, the closure is often beyond the airlines’ control and compensation is not required.
Travelers that purchased travel insurance can also file a claim to request compensation in the event a delay caused added expenses like a hotel stay. It is still unclear how some travel insurance companies may process claims related to these types of events. However, most companies do offer travel delay coverage for any common carrier delay. A few specific plans also will cover a trip cancellation in this scenario, as long as the reason for the airport closing was due to a documented security breach.