What does flight insurance cover mean?
Flight insurance policies offered through airlines can vary quite a bit depending on the company, but they tend to focus on protecting flight-related costs, such as flight cancellations, instead of coverage for the full cost of your trip.
For example, flight insurance typically offers minimal coverage in the following categories:
It’s important to note that all of these types of coverage are typically included in comprehensive travel insurance plans. Additionally, third-party plans can be tailored for higher coverage in certain areas, such as increased medical coverage limits.
What is not covered by flight insurance by airlines?
As you can see from the coverages included in flight insurance above, there are some glaring gaps in the protection you get.
As an example, having just $10,000 in coverage for emergency medical expenses can easily leave you in a bind if you become sick or injured during your trip. Not only that but there are some major travel insurance coverages you won’t get at all with flight insurance through the airlines.
The main types of travel coverage you will not receive through airline flight insurance policies include:
How much does flight insurance cost?
The cost of flight insurance through the airlines depends on the carrier and the cost of your trip. For example, it’s a lot more expensive to insure an international flight in a premium cabin vs. a cheap domestic flight in economy class.
That said, most flight insurance policies we looked at through airlines when we wrote this article came in between $40 and $450 depending on the type of ticket.
Below, we’ve listed a few examples of the prices we were quoted:
- Delta flight insurance: $43.07
One-way economy flight from Cancun, Mexico to Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Delta flight insurance: $53.08
Round-trip economy flight from Cancun, Mexico to Raleigh, North Carolina.
- JetBlue flight insurance: $97.32
Round-trip economy flight from Chicago, Illinois to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
- United Airlines flight insurance: $440.60
Round-trip business class flight from Indianapolis, Indiana to Rome, Italy.
|Flight Insurance Cost
|One-way trip, economy class, Cancun, Mexico → Raleigh, NC.
|Round-trip, economy class, Cancun, Mexico → Raleigh, NC.
|Round-trip, economy class, Chicago, Il → Montego Bay, Jamaica.
|Round-trip, business class, Indianapolis, IA → Rome, Italy.
For specific insight by airline, take a look at our FAQ section below where we detail each airline’s travel insurance and whether we think it’s worth it.
Flight insurance vs. travel insurance
The main difference between flight insurance and travel insurance is that airline flight insurance is meant to protect mainly your flight.
On the other hand, travel insurance from third-party providers is made to provide comprehensive travel protection for the full trip cost as well as your physical health.
Let’s take a look at a real-world example that shows this difference. We applied for Delta flight insurance for a round-trip economy flight from Cancun, Mexico to Raleigh, NC, and were offered only one option for a Delta Airlines travel insurance policy backed by Allianz costing $53.08.
For $53.08, the Delta Airlines flight insurance policy came with the following benefits:
- Trip cancellation and interruption coverage worth up to $3,000
- Travel delay, baggage delay, and baggage loss or damage coverage worth up to $200 per event
- Emergency medical and dental coverage worth up to $10,000
- 24/7 travel concierge services
We also applied for a comprehensive travel insurance plan using the quote tool on the LA Times Compare and were offered several travel insurance policies through a range of top providers. As we mentioned, third-party travel insurance is meant to cover the entire cost of the trip, so we searched for quotes for one 40-year-old traveler and a total trip cost of $2,500.
Here is one plan we were quoted from Nationwide costing $79.22:
- Trip cancellation coverage worth up to $2,500
- Trip interruption insurance worth up to $3,125
- Coverage for emergency medical expenses up to $75,000
- Protection for emergency medical evacuation up to $250,000
- $600 per person in coverage for travel delays ($150 daily limit) of at least six hours
- $100 per person in baggage delay coverage after a 12-hour delay
- $600 per person in coverage for baggage and personal items
- 24-hour travel assistance services
- And plenty more included in this plan
in this example, you could pay slightly more for coverage through Nationwide and get significantly higher coverage limits and more included benefits. Of course, the plan through Nationwide is meant to cover the entire trip and not just the airline ticket. There are plenty of examples we saw where the plans came out to be cheaper than the airline plans, but we liked this example best.
You can take a look at our full guide to cheap travel insurance plans if you are interested in a comprehensive policy on a budget.
Is airline travel insurance worth it?
At the end of the day, buying a flight insurance plan through your airline is better than nothing, but you’ll make some sacrifices when it comes to coverage levels and included perks.
For example, you’ll get cancellation protection for your flight costs, but you’ll have to go without coverage for other non-refundable expenses like hotel stays and tours. You’ll also get a small amount of medical coverage with flight insurance, but it may not be enough if you get sick, ill, or get hurt during your trip.
It’s really up to you to decide how much coverage you want to buy, but you should do plenty of research so you can make an informed decision. Just remember that airline travel insurance and coverage you get through a travel credit card may leave you out of pocket due to limited coverage. Given the option, it’s worth it to opt for comprehensive travel insurance instead of flight insurance.
Reasons to get travel insurance instead of flight insurance
As you prepare to move forward with your travel insurance plans, consider these reasons to buy comprehensive travel insurance instead of flight insurance from your airline.
You want the full cost of your trip covered
There’s a lot more that goes into planning a vacation than just the cost of your airline ticket. You may also have paid for a range of travel-related costs including non-refundable travel expenses such as hotel stays, tours, cruises, and more. Ultimately, that’s why a comprehensive travel plan provides a lot more financial protection in general. When you shop for travel insurance from major providers, you can purchase trip insurance for your entire trip cost and not just airline insurance that covers your plane ticket. A good example would be taking a flight to go on a cruise. If you only buy flight insurance, you will likely not receive a full cruise insurance policy that covers other risks and expenses associated with your trip.
You want the best deal among providers
The first detail to note about the travel insurance plan offered through your airline is that you’ll only be presented with one option. By contrast, you can shop for travel insurance through a portal like the one on LA Times Compare and see pricing for multiple policies from several different companies all in one place.
Getting the chance to shop around gives you the power to select a plan that has the benefits and coverage levels that make sense for your trip and also allows you to get the best deal among the competition.
You want flexibility & a customized plan for your needs
Also remember that airline insurance typically cannot be tailored to your needs, meaning you cannot beef it up with add-ons. This is a basic option for almost all travel insurance plans. If you want the chance to choose your coverage levels, limits, or add CFAR or IFAR travel insurance to your plan, you should skip airline travel insurance and buy a comprehensive travel insurance plan from a top insurance company.
You have a pre-existing condition
If you or a family member have medical conditions and you’re worried about getting sick during your vacation, you’ll want to make sure you have sufficient medical insurance levels and medical evacuation coverage. For senior citizens, it’s especially recommended to look into medical evacuation coverage as well as senior travel insurance policies. You will also want to make sure you purchase travel insurance from an insurer that provides coverage for pre-existing conditions you have, which could include diabetes or a history of heart problems.
Without medical coverage and evacuation protection with high limits, you could easily get stuck paying tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of medical expenses out-of-pocket if the worst-case scenario comes into play.
You want multi-trip coverage
Travel insurance offered through airlines is only available on a single-trip basis, meaning you have to purchase coverage for each flight you take. that said, many travel insurance companies offer multi-trip or annual travel insurance plans that let you purchase coverage that applies to multiple trip arrangements and travel plans you make throughout the year.
If you want insurance coverage that applies to longer trips or several trips you plan to take, you’ll want to skip airline flight insurance and opt for multi-trip travel insurance instead.