Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.

Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance — Are They Worth It?

Senitra Horbrook's image
Senitra Horbrook
Senitra Horbrook's image

Senitra Horbrook

Writer

1 Published Article

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 40

Senitra Horbrook is a frequent solo traveler who began using points and miles in 2012. Formerly credit cards editor at The Points Guy, Senitra has also contributed to Forbes Advisor, AwardWallet, Insi...
Edited by: Nick Ellis
Nick Ellis's image

Nick Ellis

Editor & Content Contributor

149 Published Articles 730 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 35U.S. States Visited: 25

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
& Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

30 Published Articles 3097 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

It’s never fun to experience a hiccup in your travel plans, whether it be a delayed flight causing you to arrive at your destination later than expected or a family member back home falling ill and leading to a premature ending to your trip.

These situations aren’t predictable, but they do happen. In 2023, around 20% of flights in the U.S. were delayed, and just over 1% were canceled, according to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.¹ Since you can never be certain if or when you’ll encounter a delay or interruption to your trip, having insurance that covers these types of situations can provide peace of mind. But are trip delay and trip interruption coverage really worth it?

Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of coverage so you can decide whether they’re necessary for your next trip.

What Are Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance?

Trip delay insurance and trip interruption insurance are 2 different products.

Basically, trip delay insurance provides coverage when travel booked on a common carrier — think airline, bus, train, or passenger boat tickets — is delayed for a period of time. Trip delay insurance covers reasonable expenses (up to the daily dollar limit as specified by your plan) incurred once your trip is delayed by a certain number of hours (also specified by your plan).

On the other hand, trip interruption insurance covers you if something happens that forces you to cancel the remainder of your plans. 

What’s Covered With Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance?

Phone Bill
Image Credit: wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock

Trip delay insurance is typically considered to be supplemental coverage as it only pays in excess of any reimbursement you’ve received elsewhere, like from an airline or from another insurance policy. With this insurance, you can be reimbursed for reasonable expenses that you have to pay for as a result of the delay, such as meals, a hotel stay, transportation, and lost prepaid expenses. 

Say, for example, an airline cancels your flight but then rebooks you on a different flight for the next day and provides you with a hotel stay and meal vouchers. Your trip is delayed, yes, but since the airline paid for the necessary expenses to get you through the delay, you cannot also submit a claim to your travel insurance provider for additional accommodations and meal reimbursements.

With trip interruption insurance, you can be reimbursed for unused prepaid nonrefundable expenses and for transportation back home or to your next destination. Examples of reasons your trip might be interrupted include a family emergency, a natural disaster, or either you or a travel companion experiencing an illness or injury.

Keep in mind that many policies have exclusions, and not every reason for interrupting your trip will qualify for coverage. This includes reasons such as childbirth, illegal acts, and drug use. Some policies may also exclude preexisting conditions.

Hot Tip:

Be sure to keep track of any expenditures and receipts during your delayed or interrupted trip. You may need to submit them in order to be reimbursed by your insurer.

How To Get Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance

Trip delay and trip interruption insurance are usually packaged with other types of travel coverage, including trip cancellation, baggage loss, medical emergency, and evacuation insurance. A comprehensive travel insurance policy that you can purchase from a third-party provider typically includes both trip delay and trip interruption coverage, but you’ll want to review any policy you’re considering to be certain.

Third-party travel insurance providers include Allianz Travel Insurance, Generali Global Assistance Travel Insurance, and World Nomads Travel Insurance. Using a site such as Squaremouth is an easy way to compare policies and pricing across multiple travel insurance providers.

Many popular travel credit cards include trip delay and trip interruption insurance as perks. Coverage varies by card but usually kicks in after a delay of 6 to 12 hours. However, if you need more coverage than your credit card benefits offer or you need Cancel for Any Reason travel insurance, you should look into buying a separate travel policy with inclusions for trip delay and trip interruption insurance.

Why You May Not Need Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance

You’re Traveling Within the U.S. 

The average American takes 2 or 3 vacations each year, with most travelers remaining within the U.S., as domestic leisure travelers made up the majority of direct travel spending in 2022.

Travel within the U.S. is often a lot less expensive than international travel. With the national average domestic airfare in the third quarter of 2023 being around $368, you may not have a huge amount of money on the line if your trip gets delayed or goes awry while in progress. 

And if you’ve booked a hotel with a free cancellation policy, you also don’t have money at risk of loss if you cancel before the deadline specified by your reservation. Depending on the situation, some hotels may allow you to cancel or rebook for a different date for no fee, even beyond the cancellation deadline.

Your Trip Only Includes Air Travel

American Airlines at HNL Airport
Image Credit: Stella Shon

As a passenger, knowing your rights when you experience delayed or canceled flights can help ensure you’re rebooked and/or compensated as per the airline’s policy, which, in many cases, can negate the need for trip delay insurance. 

For example, all of the major U.S. domestic airlines will rebook you on the same airline at no additional cost for a controllable delay or cancellation (a “controllable” delay or cancellation is one that is caused by the airline, such as maintenance or crew problems). Some airlines will also rebook you on a different airline at no additional cost, but a few do not.

You also have the right to a refund if you decide not to travel because of a canceled flight or a significant delay/schedule change.

Should your travel plans be interrupted and you need to stay at your destination longer or for an unknown amount of time, often you can cancel the unused portion of your airline ticket and receive travel credit to be used in the future (though basic economy fares are typically excluded from these situations). 

You Booked With Points and Miles

You may not be able to use trip delay or trip cancellation coverage from a general travel insurance policy to recover the value of points and miles that you redeemed for travel. However, many airline and hotel programs have generous change and cancellation policies for award travel where you can change your travel dates or receive a refund for the points or miles used and taxes paid, either for free or for a low fee.

Booking through a bank’s travel portal — such as Chase Travel or AmexTravel.com — with flexible points can qualify you for trip delay and trip interruption reimbursement through the associated credit card, so you would not need separate coverage in this instance. 

If you need to advance your return date and head home sooner, many airlines now allow changes for no additional fee, though you will have to pay any difference in fare (again, basic economy tickets are typically excluded from this policy). Sometimes the fare difference can be significant, so you may want to weigh the cost of paying a potential fare difference versus purchasing a travel insurance policy with trip interruption coverage.

You Don’t Have a Lot of Prepaid Expenses

If you don’t have many prepaid or nonrefundable expenses, your losses from a delayed or interrupted trip could be minimal. For a delayed flight, there may be many other flight options that would get you to your destination at a reasonable time. For a trip in progress that’s interrupted, you may be able to use points or miles for a last-minute flight to get back home quickly. In these instances, you’re basically “self-insuring” because you don’t have much money at risk.

You’re an Employee Taking a Business Trip

An as employee traveling for work, you may have trip delay and trip interruption coverage through your employer’s business travel insurance policy. However, it’s best to check with your employer to be certain rather than assume you are covered. 

Should you decide to extend your business trip for personal reasons, like visiting family or enjoying leisure activities either before or after the work portion is completed, it could be a good idea to have separate, personal coverage.

If you’re self-employed, you may want to purchase a comprehensive business travel insurance policy — not just to cover unexpected delays or interruptions — but also because it may have higher limits for expensive business equipment you may be traveling with compared to personal travel insurance policies.

Your Credit Card Offers It

You may not have been thinking about travel insurance when you signed up for a new credit card with a big welcome offer, however, many midtier and premium travel cards do include it as a perk.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a trip delay benefit of up to $500 for each ticket purchased when you are delayed due to a covered hazard for more than 12 hours or require an overnight stay. The benefit includes reimbursement for reasonable additional expenses incurred during your delay, including meals, lodging, toiletries, and medication.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card also has a trip interruption benefit of up to $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per trip, if your trip is cut short for a covered reason.

Hot Tip:

Check out our article on the best credit cards for travel insurance coverage to compare benefits by card.

Why You May Want Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance

If you have extensive prepaid or nonrefundable expenses, you should definitely take a close look at trip delay and trip interruption insurance, and make sure the policy you select has sufficient coverage.

Say you’ve spent $10,000 for a cruise or $15,000 for a safari, and you’re delayed or need to leave early — you’d potentially be forfeiting a big sum of money. If that’s more money than you’re willing to lose, you shouldn’t “self-insure” in that scenario by not having coverage.

Other situations where you may especially want to have trip delay and trip interruption insurance would be if you’re traveling internationally, are concerned about the weather impacting your trip, or you have a family back home you may need to get back to on short notice. 

With international travel, typically trips are longer in duration compared to domestic travel, and you may have spent a significant amount on flights, hotels, and other nonrefundable expenses. And with weather issues, many airline policies exclude providing compensation, like a hotel room or meal vouchers, because they consider it an uncontrollable delay, so having separate coverage means you’ll be reimbursed for those expenses.

Are Trip Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance Worth It?

The decision to have trip delay and trip interruption insurance depends on each individual’s situation and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some primary considerations include whether your travels are domestic or international, whether you already have coverage from your credit card, and how much you have spent on prepaid or nonrefundable expenses.

Final Thoughts

It may be surprising to hear that you might not need trip delay and trip interruption insurance for every type of trip. While there are times when having them may be helpful or even essential, they’re not always necessary. Plus, you may already have a credit card that covers you as long as you use it to pay for at least a portion of your travel.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between trip delay and trip interruption insurance?

Trip delay covers you when your travel plans are delayed by the carrier. This could be as you’re beginning your trip, transiting between cities, or returning home. Trip interruption applies when you end your trip early and return home for a covered reason.

Where can you buy trip delay and trip interruption insurance?

Trip delay and trip interruption insurance are both typically included in a general travel insurance policy that you can purchase from a third-party provider. They may also be included as benefits on your credit cards.

How do I prove my flight delay for insurance?

Most insurers require you to submit documentation from the carrier (e.g., the airline, bus, train, or cruise line) confirming the delay with your reservation details and explaining the reason for the delay. You will also have to submit receipts for your expenses along with the delay confirmation.

How do I claim a trip interruption?

You will need documentation explaining the reason for canceling the remainder of your trip, such as a doctor’s note or accident/police report. You will also need receipts for the expenses that you’re requesting reimbursement.

Should you purchase trip delay and trip interruption insurance if your credit card includes it?

If you think you’ll need more coverage than your credit card benefits offer, then you should consider getting a general policy from a travel insurance company. For example, if your credit card’s trip delay coverage only kicks in after 12 hours, but you’d like to be covered for a delay of 5 hours, you’ll want to find a policy with that coverage.

Senitra Horbrook's image

About Senitra Horbrook

Senitra Horbrook is a frequent solo traveler who began using points and miles in 2012. Formerly credit cards editor at The Points Guy, Senitra has also contributed to Forbes Advisor, AwardWallet, Insider, among others.

INSIDERS ONLY: UP PULSE

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse

Get the latest travel tips, crucial news, flight & hotel deal alerts...

Plus — expert strategies to maximize your points & miles by joining our (free) newsletter.

We respect your privacy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. Google's privacy policy and terms of service apply.

Deluxe Travel Provided by UP Pulse
DMCA.com Protection Status