Whether it’s for business or pleasure, missing your flight, having your flight canceled, or experiencing any kind of delay in your trip can be a major inconvenience.
Similar to other types of travel insurance, travel delay insurance mitigates the costs involved in a trip delay, such as covering a night’s stay at a hotel or meals at the airport.
Having this kind of coverage on your trip will give you peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong when on the go, like a flight being canceled suddenly due to weather, you’ll be covered.
What Travel Delay Insurance Covers
Just like with any kind of insurance you plan on purchasing, it’s important to understand what’s covered so there are no surprises. Travel delay insurance, also referred to as trip delay insurance, is primarily meant to cover costs associated with unexpected delays in travel.
Depending on the exact plan, you can be reimbursed for transportation, meals, and even accommodations that you had to pay for as a result of the delay. Not only that but you can also be reimbursed for pre-paid expenses that were lost.
Do Airlines Cover Anything?
At this point you may be thinking, wouldn’t the airline be on the hook to reimburse you for these kinds of costs if the delay was their fault?
Not necessarily. While some airlines may provide meal vouchers or hotel accommodations, they don’t have to, and what you’re offered will vary depending on the airline.
Passengers essentially have two basic rights when it comes to a flight cancellation. The passenger can either select a seat on another flight with the same airline, or they can choose to receive a refund of the ticket.
If you want to find out what a specific airline offers when canceling a flight (whether the cancellation or delay is their fault or not), you’ll find more details by reading up on their policies in the contract when booking.
Just remember that for an event to be considered a delay, the delay must meet a minimum time requirement stated in your specific travel delay plan.
How it Works
So how does travel delay insurance cover work exactly, and in what situations would it kick in?
If you have travel delay insurance coverage, you’ll only reap the benefits for specific covered reasons after a specified amount of time, which can vary depending on the plan you have.
Some travel delay plans will only kick in after a 3-hour delay, for example, while others require a longer duration of time, such as 6 hours or longer. Typically, the minimum delay time will vary from 5 to 12 hours before the insurance will provide coverage.
There are also limitations on reimbursements. A luxurious meal at the Ritz, for example, may not get fully reimbursed. Again, things like reasons covered, delay duration times, and reimbursement limits all vary depending on the plan you have, so be sure to read the fine print.
Some common travel delay reasons that are eligible for coverage include mechanical issues with the aircraft, poor weather, air traffic delays, and more.
Some other covered reasons travel delay insurance may account for in their policies include common carrier issues, natural disasters, lost or stolen travel documents (such as a passport), or terrorism.
Again, whatever the reason for delaying or canceling a flight, airlines aren’t obligated to provide any compensation or benefits, like meals or hotel stays.
As mentioned earlier, travel delay coverage plans will vary, particularly when it comes to limitations and exclusions.
Many plans will exclude coverage for certain scenarios, such as reimbursement for unnecessary expenses, like running a bar tab during the delay. Travel delay insurance will also typically not cover scenarios where the delay is your fault. If you overslept and missed your flight or were stuck in traffic, for example. These situations will likely not be covered.
Some other limits to keep in mind include reimbursement limits. Most policies will have a reimbursement cap, or a per-day limit. This will often vary between $100 to $300. Some plans have no limit at all. It’s also common to have a total policy limit.
Difference Between Travel Delay and Trip Interruption Insurance
While these two terms may seem similar, they’re not interchangeable. Travel delay insurance and trip interruption insurance are actually two separate types of coverage.
Trip interruption is coverage for situations where a traveler needs to cut short their trip due to unexpected reasons, and return home. This “interruption” can also result in you staying at your destination for a longer period of time than planned, which can of course incur additional travel costs.
The benefit of this coverage is that it will reimburse nonrefundable prepaid costs up to the maximum policy limit specified in the trip interruption plan. It can also cover the costs of extra accommodations made on your trip.
Some trip interruption plans today even cover missed portions of a trip if you’re forced to quarantine due to COVID-19. Travel delay insurance plans may also offer some type of quarantine benefit, such as extra meal coverage or accommodations.
Additionally, some trip interruption insurance plans offer an “interruption for any reason” upgrade that will provide coverage for cutting a trip short or missing out on a non-refundable itinerary regardless of the reason.
Trip Interruption Insurance Covered Reasons
Same as with travel delay insurance, trip interruption insurance will also only kick in for certain reasons. Some common covered reasons include serious injury to the traveler, travel companion, or a family member. Other covered reasons include natural disasters or cessation of services (such as by the airline or cruise) which can cause you to miss part of your trip.
Making a Trip Delay Insurance Claim
The best trip delay insurance companies will make it easy for travelers to submit a claim. Some will allow you to do so right through their mobile app or website without needing to speak with anyone.
Generally, the process is fairly similar across travel insurance companies. You’ll need to fill out an online claim form,
Here is some information you may need to include when filling out your trip delay insurance claim:
- The type of claim (trip delay, trip cancellation, trip interruption, etc)
- Name and contact information
- Flight information
- Delay reason
You’ll also be required to upload some documentation, such as your itinerary, a statement from the airline regarding delay/cancellation reasons, and receipts.
For example, for anything you’d like to seek reimbursement for, such as meals or hotel accommodations incurred due to the travel delay, you’ll want to keep the physical or digital receipt handy. Itemized receipts are generally preferable to charged credit card slips, although some plans do accept these as well.
How Long Does it Take?
How long it takes for a claim to be processed will vary depending on the travel insurance company, but it can generally take one to two weeks for the claim and submitted documents to be reviewed. At this point, travelers will receive communication either asking for additional documents or information, or an approval for the claim. If a claim is approved, the reimbursement can be issued via direct deposit or paper check.
If you plan on taking advantage of travel delay insurance, then you’ll also want to take some time to carefully review your policy to have a good understanding of what’s covered, any exclusions or limitations, and the claim process to avoid any potential headaches later.
With TravelInsurance.com, you can easily compare travel insurance plans from various companies, read up on key details, and purchase your plan right from the website.
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