Travel insurance for missed flights and delays

Looking for travel insurance in case you miss your flight? Find out exactly when you will be covered.

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Travel insurance rules continue to change as a result of the pandemic. Some information may not be accurate at this time. It’s even more important to double-check all details that matter to you before taking out cover. Please note:
    • Some policies may not be available through Finder at this time
    • It’s unlikely that your policy will cover expenses from border closures
    Your shuttle bus to the airport is late and you miss your flight home...does missed flight travel insurance cover you? Your flight is cancelled due to bad weather...are you covered by your travel insurance? You're running late and reach the check-in counter after the gate has closed...will you be covered?

    Typically, travel insurance will cover you for missed flights and travel delays, provided it's not your, or your airline's, fault.

    Even the most basic travel insurance covers you for missed flights and delays, as long as it's because of a reason outlined in your policy. Read on to find out when you're covered and when you're not, as well as what to do when it comes to making a claim.

    You are typically covered for reasons outside your or your airline's control

    • You are covered for missed flights provided you miss your flight due to an event that is out of your control and is recognised by your insurance provider. This may include a vehicle accident, natural disaster, hijacking or strike. You will be covered under cancellation and trip interruption.

    Which Australian airlines cancel the most flights?

    CarrierFlights 2019Cancellation 2019Cancellation %
    Regional Express71,9747121.0%
    Virgin Australia140,9122,7612.0%
    Virgin Australia Regional Airlines9,4152012.1%

    Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)

    Does travel insurance cover missed flights? Cover varies between policies and insurers. In most cases, missed flight travel insurance only provides cover for flights that are missed due to circumstances beyond your or your airline's control. Circumstances outside of an airlines control such as bad weather and industrial action, are usually considered valid grounds for a claim. Pre-booked accommodation expenses are usually covered in these situations too.

    Good to know. If you missed your flight because of mechanical problems or overbooking, your airline would be responsible for providing compensation or alternative flight arrangement as they were responsible for your delay.

    When won't I be covered?

    You're not covered in situations where you are at fault for the delayed or missed flight, for example:

    • You did not allow enough time to get to the airport before your flights departure
    • You booked connecting flights with arrival and departure times too close
    • You missed your flight due to issues with your travel documents and/or passport

    Good to know. Circumstances such as being caught in a traffic jam on the way to the airport are generally not covered. However, situations such as your train breaking down may be. The reason train delays are covered is because there will be a record of the breakdown, which will provide proof when you're making a claim.

    Does travel insurance cover missed connections?

    Travel insurance won't usually cover you if you miss your connecting flight due to a delay caused by the airline. In this case, the liability falls with the airline and it is their responsibility to arrange an alternative flight for your return.

    What if my delay from my missed connection lasts for a couple of days?

    The airline should provide additional cover for food and accommodation while you wait for your next flight.

    What if I am travelling with two different airlines and the first is delayed?

    Unfortunately, the second airline of your connecting flight is not liable to cover you if the first carrier is delayed. This means you may need to purchase another ticket out of your own pocket.

    The Importance of Reading the PDS

    What happened? KKatie was coming home from the United States to Australia and missed her connecting international flight due to bad weather. As a result, Katie missed her long-haul flight to Australia. It took her another 24 hours and around $1000 in additional expenses, including accommodation, before she was able to get on another flight home.

    Was Katie covered? Given that her connecting flight was delayed through no fault of her own or the airline's, Katie felt that she had a valid claim. Unfortunately, she had not read the conditions of her policy carefully. When she put in a claim with her insurer, her claim was rejected. Katie was told that her policy did not cover delays of less than six hours and that even though she had been delayed for 24 hours altogether, the initial delay of the domestic connecting flight was only three hours.

    .I'm going to miss my flight, what do I do?If you know you're going to miss a flight there are steps you can take to help your situation with both your airline and insurer.
    • Call the airline ahead of time.. Calling ahead will allow airlines to sometimes hold the airplane if you are a few minutes late, or if they have to take off, they may move you to the next flight for free.
    • Get proof of delay. If there is a breakdown or the road, get a police report or if your flights are missed because of a late connection get a written statement from the airline. These will back up any claims you make with your insurer.
    • Check-in online. If you check-in online, have picked up your boarding pass, but arrive at the gate late, some airlines may issue a ticket to the next flight for free.

    .Who has first priority when it comes to missed flights?Airlines will usually try to help you out if you miss flights, but there is a pecking order:

    • Special-needs customers. This refers to those who are disabled or children that are unaccompanied.
    • Frequent flyers/members. This includes regular flyers and big spenders with the airline.
    • First-class passengers and business-class passengers. Flyers who have bought first class or premium tickets.
    • Full-fare economy-class ticket holders. Flyers who have bought full priced economy tickets.
    • Discount tickets holders. Flyers who have bought economy tickets at discount or as part of a deal.

    .What if I get bumped from a flight?Quite often, airlines will overbook tickets to account for no-shows. Sometimes, when all of the ticket holders do show up, they will involuntarily "bump" or move you to the next flight and compensate you in rewards or by refunding you more than your ticket's cost price. While this is legal, it can be inconvenient for your travel plans, especially if you're travelling on business.The airline will also generally cover you for accommodation and meals if it is required. What does this mean for travel insurance?

    What does this mean for travel insurance? While travel insurance won't compensate you if the airline already has, you may need to contact your provider to inform them of an extension of cover if your delayed flight is a returning flight. As these conditions are out of your control, the insurer may extend a few days of cover for free. What other cancellation cover is available? As well as compensation for missed flights, travel insurance can provide cover for trip interruptions and cancellations of different kinds. Cancellation cover protects policyholders from lost deposits and cancellation fees for prepaid travel arrangements that are interrupted by unforeseen situations. Circumstances that cancellation insurance may cover includes:

    • Extreme events. Situations where your travel arrangements are affected by natural disasters.
    • Severe illness or injury. Trip cancellation expenses incurred as a result of a doctor declaring you unfit to continue your journey.
    • Severe illness, injury or death of a close relative. Trip cancellation expenses incurred because you must return home to be with a sick or dying relative.
    • Emergency accommodation expenses. Accommodation expenses incurred due to trip delay or disruption.
    • Alternative transport expenses. Transport expenses incurred in getting to a pre-booked event such as a wedding, funeral or sporting event after your journey has been cancelled or disrupted.

    As with missed flight insurance, there are certain circumstances that trip interruption or cancellation insurance will not cover. These include:

    • Cancelled flights considered the fault of the carrier or the insured
    • Missed accommodation resulting from those cancelled flights
    • Trip cancellations due to the insured having their leave cancelled (considered the fault and responsibility of the employer)
    • Trip cancellations due to the insured travelling against the advice of a medical practitioner
    • Cancellations of any kind resulting from supplier collapse or insolvency (few insurers will cover this)

    As with all travel insurance, what is and is not covered depends very much on the insurer. For instance, there are insurers who will cover you for circumstances which other insurers will not, such as:

    • Terrorist activity – insurers such as Ouch, Insure-N-Go, CGU and Itrek will provide cancellations cover and medical and emergency costs resulting from such activity.
    • Pandemic/epidemic – while insurers such as AAMI and iCover don’t provide cancellation cover in the event of a pandemic or epidemic.

    Find out more about cancellation cover

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    Missed flight compensation

    As part of your travel insurance policy, you might be eligible for compensation for accommodation, transport, meals and other additional costs. These cost may also be recoverable through your airline. However, this is at the airlines discretion and not all airlines will be accommodating.

    Good to know. Make sure you keep receipts of any out of pocket expenses you incur as you'll need to provide you're insurer or airline with evidence if these costs.

    Don't jump the gun. Be mindful that if you're delayed and find yourself alternate transport without consulting your airline or insurer, there's a good chance you'll lose your chance to recover the costs of your plane tickets.

    Common questions about missed flights and delays

    Will travel insurance cover me if my car breaks down on the way to the resort I'm staying at?

    Unfortunately, travel insurance will not provide cover if your car breaks down and you miss a day at the resort you are staying at. It is not covered under trip interruption cover.

    Will I be covered if I miss my flight due to traffic?

    No, you will not be covered if you miss your flight due to traffic. You may be covered if you are involved in a car accident.

    How does the Baggage Delay benefit work with travel insurance?

    Baggage delay benefit will provide cover for you to purchase clothing, toiletries and other essential items if your luggage is delayed for a specified period of time.

    Compare policies with cover for missed flights

    warning Finally, some good news! Domestic travel is picking up, so some insurers have started offering cover again 🦘
    Just remember, you won't be covered for any pandemic related claims if you do take out domestic travel insurance.
    International travel insurance is limited and sometimes unavailable at this point.

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