Travel insurance probably isn’t worth it during this summer’s airline chaos

  • 90% of travelers traveling this summer said they are likely to purchase travel insurance, Allianz found.
  • However, most travel protection plans will not reimburse you for flight delays and cancellations.
  • Here it is worth taking out travel insurance for your flight this summer.

We all know that, the mouse hovers over the check box: “Are you secure Want to risk your $200 flight by not getting travel insurance?”

Especially in a summer riddled with travel horror stories and mass delays, it’s tempting to bite the bullet and shell out an extra $20 for flight protection without really knowing what it covers.

According to an AAA travel survey, 88% of travelers say cancellation reimbursement is the most valuable travel insurance benefit. But the typical airline plan won’t cover the majority of flight cancellations or delays, Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, one of the leading experts on personal insurance issues, told Insider.

“Policies differ dramatically,” Balber said. “It is important for consumers to know that many of the reasons for these flight delays and cancellations are non-recoverable under travel insurance.”

For example, typical travel insurance will cover cancellations due to mechanical problems but not those caused by staff shortages. These small discrepancies make it “really essential, more so than with most insurance policies, to read the fine print,” she said.

“The possibility of your air travel nightmare being covered by travel insurance at an airport this summer is totally in doubt,” Balber told Insider. “I wouldn’t recommend people getting travel insurance for fear of airport delays.”

When is it worth taking out travel insurance?

long airport line in portugal during summer travel

Travelers wait at Humberto Delgado International Airport in Lisbon, Portugal on July 09, 2022.

Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

While purchasing travel insurance for a cheaper domestic flight might not be necessary, it might be worth purchasing comprehensive travel insurance for expensive international trips you plan to take.

“It’s a different story when you’ve paid $15,000 upfront for a family vacation to Italy,” Balber told Insider. “When there’s a lot of money at stake, it makes more sense to maybe invest in travel insurance.”

Another reason for taking out travel insurance for trips abroad is medical care abroad. However, some credit cards, like Chase Sapphire Preferred, already have these benefits built in — so be sure to check your card’s travel insurance policy before doubling it.

Even when traveling abroad, it’s important to identify some of the specific reasons for your flight’s coverage and then review the plan’s coverage accordingly.

“If you have a work emergency and need to stay home, your travel insurance generally won’t cover that. If your child gets sick and it’s not COVID, your travel insurance probably won’t cover that,” Balber said. “There are many reasons why travel insurance does not apply.”

Balber’s final recommendation for those traveling this summer is not to rely on the insurance plan offered at checkout when purchasing your ticket, as these typically offer less coverage than an independent insurance broker or credit card.

“If you really think travel insurance is important, go to your insurance broker and ask for a policy that’s as comprehensive as you need,” she said. “That will help you go through the fine print with someone who knows the details, rather than having to rely on the airline and their captive insurance company to help you.”

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