Edited by: Michael Y. Park
& Keri Stooksbury
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Air travel can present unexpected circumstances, including cancellations, delays, missed connections, and lost or delayed baggage. At the same time, flights may be the most costly part of your trip budget. This can present a high-stakes scenario where you’ve spent a lot on airline tickets but risk situations that can interfere with your travel plans.
Flight insurance protects you against unforeseen circumstances that could cost you, whether it’s cancellation or lost bags, generally offering reimbursement for your nonrefundable costs when air travel goes awry. You can get flight insurance when you book with an airline or online travel booking site or you can select a comprehensive travel insurance plan that includes air travel from a travel insurance company.
This guide explores options for the best flight insurance, how it works, when to buy it, and what to look for in a flight insurance policy. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or only occasionally take to the skies, read on to understand how flight insurance can offer financial protection and peace of mind.
Comprehensive travel insurance policies generally include flights, so you have extensive options for flight insurance. Consider these flight insurance plans that offer a good value for coverage, as quoted for a 40-year-old visiting Japan on a $2,500 trip:
|Flight Insurance Plan||Best For||What’s Covered|
|battleface Discovery Plan||Cancel for any reason||
Trip cancellation for any reason
|Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection ExactCare Value||Travel delay||
Trip cancellation and interruption, travel delays, secondary medical coverage, and medical evacuation
|Travelex Travel Basic||Missed connections||
Trip cancellation and interruption, primary medical coverage, and medical evacuation
|AXA Assistance USA Silver||Baggage protection||
Trip cancellation and interruption, secondary medical coverage, and medical evacuation
|Generali Global Assistance||Accidental death||
Trip cancellation and interruption, secondary medical coverage, medical evacuation, and accidental death
With the battleface Discovery Plan, you can get covered for trip cancellation, including Cancel for Any Reason coverage, which offers reimbursement of up to 75% of your trip cost if you need to cancel your travel plans (50% in Florida). Cancellation is all our quote included, but there are optional add-ons for trip interruption, medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation, travel and baggage delays, and more. Our quote for this policy came to $61.82.
A Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection ExactCare Value flight insurance policy covers up to 100% of your trip cost for trip cancellation and interruption, including COVID-19 coverage. That includes cancellations for getting laid off or medical reasons. You also get up to $15,000 for emergency medical treatment and $150,000 in medical evacuation and repatriation benefits. Travel delay benefits are up to $500 for delays after a 12-hour delay with a $100 daily limit, and baggage delays are for up to $200 per person after a 24-hour delay. If your baggage or personal items are lost, you can get reimbursed up to $750. We received a quote for $54 on this policy.
The Travelex Travel Basic flight insurance policy covers up to $500 for missed connections after a 3-hour delay and offers up to $500 for travel delays and $100 for baggage delays. Trip cancellation and interruption cover up to 100% of your trip cost, including employment layoff or medical reasons. You’ll get up to $15,000 in primary emergency medical coverage and up to $100,000 in medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. This policy was quoted at $87.
The AXA Assistance USA Silver plan can offer good coverage if baggage protection is a priority. It has up to $750 in baggage and personal item loss coverage and a $200 baggage delay benefit after a 24-hour delay. The policy also offers trip cancellation and interruption coverage, emergency medical, and medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. Travel delays are covered up to $500 after a 12-hour delay, as are missed connections for cruises and tours after a 3-hour delay. Our quote for this policy came to $78.
If you’re concerned about a serious accident on your flight, a policy with an accidental death and dismemberment benefit could give you some peace of mind. The Generali Global Assistance policy offers $50,000 in accidental death and dismemberment benefits if you’re killed or seriously injured on your flight. Additional benefits include trip cancellation for up to 100% of your trip cost and trip interruption for up to 125% of your trip cost. There’s up to $50,000 in emergency medical benefits and up to $250,000 in medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. Additional benefits include travel and baggage delay, missed connections, and baggage and personal item loss. We were quoted $86.25 for this policy.
Flight insurance, also known as flight protection or flight cancellation insurance, provides coverage for the cost of your flight, offering reimbursement for nonrefundable flight costs if your flight plans are disrupted. Generally, flight insurance policies cover flight cancellations and delays, missed connections, diversions, and unexpected illness or injury before your departure.
You can purchase flight insurance as a standalone policy, usually from an airline’s travel insurance provider or third-party travel booking sites, or get a comprehensive travel insurance plan directly from a travel insurance company.
Flight insurance offers coverage for flight-related disruptions and emergencies. Generally, the insurer will send you quotes and policy terms, after which you can purchase coverage and proceed with travel. If you don’t experience any issues, you won’t need to file a claim. But if you do need your flight insurance for an illness, flight delay, or cancellation, you can contact the insurance provider to file a claim.
Though a canceled or delayed flight could cost you more than just the flight in nonrefundable hotel nights or missed tours, standalone flight insurance generally only reimburses you for up to the cost of your flight.
You can generally buy flight insurance up to the day before departure, but it’s best to get your flight insurance as soon as you book your flight. The earlier you have flight insurance coverage, the better because unforeseen circumstances could interfere with your trip at any point.
You probably don’t need flight insurance if you’ve purchased a flight ticket that offers free changes or cancellations. And you won’t get much out of flight insurance if you’ve booked award flights using points or miles as currency. Also, consider your credit card benefits: You might not need to purchase flight insurance if your credit card offers adequate travel protection benefits.
Any of these are good reasons not to get flight insurance. But if you don’t have ticket flexibility or helpful credit card travel protections, getting flight insurance can offer major savings if you run into unexpected situations with your flight.
Flight insurance can be particularly valuable if you have travel with multiple connections, expensive tickets, or you’re taking an international trip.
For example, if you get sick and need to cancel your trip, flight insurance can reimburse you for what’s probably a major cost of your travel: nonrefundable flight bookings. Or if flight delays cause you to miss a connection, you can get reimbursed if you have to pay to rebook a different flight.
While worth it, flight insurance is limited compared to comprehensive travel insurance plans that cover not just flights but nonrefundable payments on lodging, tours, and more, along with medical emergency coverage. Compare the costs, and you may find more value in getting comprehensive travel insurance to cover all of your nonrefundable travel expenses.Hot Tip:
Booking with points or miles? Travel insurance policies typically only reimburse nonrefundable cash costs, so don’t count on using flight insurance to get your rewards reinstated.
Flight insurance generally covers financial risks related to air travel, particularly cancellations, delays, missed connections, and baggage loss or delay. Comprehensive plans usually cover medical emergencies and accidents. Let’s look more at these coverage areas:
You can purchase standalone flight insurance, which usually just covers your flight. This type of flight insurance is often available from airlines or third-party travel booking sites. Another option is comprehensive travel insurance, which covers flights and other nonrefundable travel expenses, generally available directly from travel insurance companies.
Purchasing an annual travel insurance policy may be cost-effective if you fly frequently. With annual travel insurance, you can pay once to get covered for all the flights and other travel you do within the coverage period.
As you compare flight insurance policies, consider key factors that can help you determine which insurance policy offers the most value for your needs:
Plan to pay between 5% to 10% of your insured costs for flight insurance. For example, if your flight costs $1,000, you’ll pay between $50 and $100 for flight insurance.
The cost of flight insurance can vary depending on several factors, including your age, how much your flight costs, how much coverage you want, how long your trip is, the insurance provider, and add-ons such as being able to cancel for any reason.
Flight protection could be free depending on which credit cards you have. Many credit cards offer trip protection benefits for no additional cost. Credit card travel protection benefits often include coverage for trip cancellations and interruptions, trip delays, lost or delayed baggage, and travel accidents. That could cover you if you need to cancel or adjust your flight, experience delays, or have lost or delayed baggage issues.
Whether you book directly with the airline or a third-party travel booking site, you may be offered flight insurance when you book your flight. You’ll generally see flight protection as an add-on at checkout. It depends on the airline and insurance provider whether the flight insurance you’re offered at booking is standalone flight insurance or comprehensive travel insurance.
You can also shop for flight insurance or comprehensive travel insurance directly from travel insurance companies or get quotes from travel insurance aggregator sites such as Squaremouth. Using an insurance comparison site, you can more easily compare policies and find the best coverage for your needs.
An insurance broker or agent can also help you compare and select travel insurance policies.
Remember that you may have flight protection coverage available through your credit card benefits. If your credit card offers travel protection, you must book your flight with that credit card for the coverage to be valid. Be sure you understand the coverage and limitations of your credit card travel protection.
These are some of your options if you purchase flight insurance from the airline or an online travel booking site:
|Airline or Booking Site||Insurance Plan||What’s Covered|
|Allegiant Air||Trip Flex||
Not insurance but a flexible itinerary policy; offers a one-time itinerary change or postponement without change fees
|American Airlines||Allianz Trip Insurance||
Trip cancellation, interruption or delay, emergency medical and dental, evacuation, baggage loss, damage, or delay, and 24-hour assistance
|Delta Air Lines||Allianz Trip Protection||
Trip cancellation and interruption, emergency medical and dental, 24/7 emergency assistance, and concierge services
|Expedia||Expedia Cancellation Plan||
Trip cancellation and interruption
|JetBlue||Allianz Travel Protection||
Trip cancellation and interruption, travel or trip delay, emergency medical and dental, emergency medical transportation, baggage loss, delay or damage, and 24-hour assistance
|Southwest Vacations||Southwest Vacations Travel Protection||
Cancel for any reason, hurricane guarantee, trip interruption or delay, missed connections, medical, baggage protection, travel accident protection, and worldwide emergency assistance
|Spirit Airlines||Travel Guard||
Trip cancellation and interruption, missed connections, trip delay, and baggage and personal effects
Not insurance but a flexible itinerary policy; offers a one-time itinerary change, refund, or postponement without change fees
|United Airlines||Travel Guard||
Trip cancellation and interruption, missed connections, trip delay, and baggage and personal effects
Curious how flight insurance from airlines compares to buying directly from travel insurance companies? You can easily get quotes from multiple insurance companies at once using comparison sites such as Squaremouth.
If you’ve laid out a lot of cash for upcoming air travel, flight insurance can provide you with a financial safety net if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip or run into snags along the way. Whether you get standalone flight insurance or a comprehensive travel insurance policy, including flights, flight insurance can protect you from the significant costs of travel disruptions. Consider whether you need flight insurance, and if you decide you do, do your research to find the best policy for you.
Flight insurance generally covers flight cancellations for specific reasons that the policy will list. For example, you can get reimbursed for your nonrefundable flight costs if you experience an illness, injury, or death in the family.
Travel insurance covers missed flights only for reasons such as severe weather, transportation breakdowns, accidents, or missed connections. Be sure to read the terms of the policy to see what’s covered.
Yes, you can add insurance to your flight when you book it or after you complete your booking. Airlines and online travel booking sites may offer flight insurance when you book your flight, or you can get quotes from travel insurance companies after you’ve booked.
How much you’ll lose if you cancel your flight depends on whether you have a refundable ticket and flexibility in rebooking. You could lose the entire booking cost if you’re traveling on a nonrefundable fare that doesn’t allow you to rebook using credit from your canceled flight.
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