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Is Flight Insurance Worth It? | Airlines' Limited Coverage Explained

  • Airline flight insurance policies are okay if your main concern is getting reimbursed for your flights. However, whether or not you can be reimbursed for other expenses depends on the airline.
  • Most flight insurance policies from airlines offer limited coverage and typically only give you one plan to choose from.
  • Airline flight insurance packages rarely include coverage for things like your accommodations. On top of this, their coverage limits for emergency medical expenses are often too low for most travelers.
  • Even the best travel insurance plans on the market often work out cheaper and provide more comprehensive protection than flight insurance plans from the airlines.
  • Therefore, instead of buying travel insurance through your airline during the booking process, we recommend getting a quote for coverage from a third-party insurance company and comparing the two options before deciding.

Is airline flight insurance worth it?

Flight insurance is usually worth it if you only need?coverage for your flights.

Flight insurance is not the same as travel insurance, and many people don’t realize that most airlines offer flight insurance that doesn’t cover other trip-related costs once the flights?are canceled.?Therefore, flight insurance may not be worth it if you are unsure about your trip or think you?may?need to alter or cancel?your trip.?Consider opting for travel insurance with trip cancellation and interruption coverage instead.

Our top picks for travel insurance with flight coverage

Advertiser Disclosure
Best Overall

Seven Corners

GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
4.37
Preferred Plan
Trip Protection Choice
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$500,000 / $1,000,000
Best for Trips Within North America

Generali Global Assistance

GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
4.34
Preferred Plan
Standard
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$50,000 / $250,000
Best for "A Bit of Everything"

Tin Leg

GET A QUOTE via Squaremouth’s secure website
4.6
Preferred Plan
Gold
Covers COVID
YES
Medical & Evacuation Limits Per Person
$500,000 / $500,000
Passport and Plane Ticket

What does flight insurance cover?

Flight insurance policies offered through airlines can vary depending on the company. Flight insurance policies tend to focus on protecting flight-related costs like flight cancellations, instead of providing coverage for the full cost of your trip.

For example, flight insurance typically offers minimal coverage in the following categories:

1

Trip interruption and cancellation coverage for your airline ticket only

This benefit can refund you for the cost of your flight if your trip is delayed or canceled for a covered reason. While this is a great benefit to have, it can fall short when you are stranded due to a canceled flight and moves some responsibility off of the airline.

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2

Travel delay, baggage delay, and luggage loss or damage coverage

Airline flight insurance typically offers a small amount of coverage for trip delays and baggage issues, which may be as low as $200. This is another coverage that is useful to have, but partially removes responsibility from the airline. If your bags are lost or damaged, the airline should pay for them regardless.

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3

Emergency medical and dental coverage

Plans may come with some coverage for emergency medical and dental expenses, but often in amounts as low as $10,000 for medical coverage. This is a great benefit to have as unforeseen medical expenses can arise out of nowhere. While we like this benefit, we think that the low coverage limits are a drawback.

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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 included coverages 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:

1

Emergency evacuation coverage

Some airline flight insurance policies offer a small amount of health insurance for medical coverage, yet very few of them offer protection for emergency medical evacuation. This means opting for airline travel insurance could leave you without protection if you become sick or injured and need transportation to a hospital or your home country to heal. At first glance, this may not seem necessary, but this is one of the best coverages to have when accidents happen. It will even play for loved ones to come and bedsit you wherever you are.

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2

Sleeping accommodations & other prepaid travel expenses

While airline flight insurance policies do tend to offer some coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption, these insurance benefits only apply to the cost of flights. In other words, you won’t have comprehensive coverage for other prepaid travel expenses required for your trip, including hotel or Airbnb stays, cruises, tours, paid activities, and excursions.

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3

Optional cancel for any reason coverage

Flight insurance policies offered through airlines are very inflexible and don’t let you add any additional or optional coverages for customization. This means you won’t have access to key coverage options like “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) protection. CFAR is a type of trip cancellation insurance that lets you cancel your trip for almost any reason at all, including “just because”. Although this may not be necessary for all travelers, it’s one of the most popular optional benefits of travel insurance plans.

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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:

One-way economy flight from Cancun, Mexico to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Round-trip economy flight from Cancun, Mexico to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Round-trip economy flight from Chicago, Illinois to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Round-trip business class flight from Indianapolis, Indiana to Rome, Italy.

Airline Flight Insurance Cost Trip Details
Delta Airlines $43.07 One-way trip, economy class, Cancun, Mexico → Raleigh, NC.
Delta Airlines $53.08 Round-trip, economy class, Cancun, Mexico → Raleigh, NC.
JetBlue Airlines $97.32 Round-trip, economy class, Chicago, Il → Montego Bay, Jamaica.
United Airlines $440.60 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:

We also applied for a comprehensive travel insurance plan using the quote tool on 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:

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 plan, 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?

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 cost, 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 become sick, ill, or hurt during your trip and are in need of medical treatment.

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. For example, if you plan to vacation in Mexico for Christmas, you may have also paid for a range of travel-related costs including non-refundable travel expenses like 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 would likely not receive a full cruise insurance policy that covers other risks and expenses associated with your trip.

You want the get 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 on almost all travel insurance plans. If you are on a Domnican Republic vacation, for example, and 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 came 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 for 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.

Passport and Plane Ticket

FAQ: Flight Insurance by Airline

Is American Airlines Flight Insurance worth it?

American Airlines offers flight insurance through a partnership with Allianz Global Assistance, and the extent of coverage varies by trip and by policy. It’s worth mentioning that Allianz is one of the most trusted names in travel insurance, so you are backed by a good provider.

The American Airlines travel insurance was one of the better options we saw when looking at airlines. However, we still think it’s best to compare quotes to see what other options are available before you move forward with a travel insurance plan through American Airlines. It’s particularly important to make sure it has sufficient coverage for medical expenses and emergency evacuations, coverage for hotels and lodgings as well as Coronavirus related illnesses.

Is Delta Airlines Flight Insurance worth it?

Delta flight insurance tends to be inexpensive, but it can leave you vulnerable if something happens during your trip. For example, the policies we were offered only had $10,000 in protection for emergency medical expenses and dental expenses, which is not nearly enough.

Also, note that the trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits from Delta only applied to the cost of the plane ticket, and not to non-refundable hotel stays or tours. Based on these two factors, we think that Delta Airlines’ travel insurance is not worth it.

Is United Airlines Flight Insurance worth it?

United Airlines travel insurance can be relatively expensive, and the policies did not clearly outline coverage limits or included benefits when you add them to your flight cost during the booking process. Like Delta, the quotes we were shown by United only offered $10,000 in coverage for medical expenses which is simply not enough. Also, trip interruption and trip cancellation coverage only applied to the cost of the plane ticket.

When we took a look at the fine print, we were shocked to see that COVID-19 travel insurance is not covered, which is a basic coverage included in almost all travel insurance plans nowadays. According to a COVID-19 page on the company website, COVID-19 is a foreseen event and is not covered.

See the following taken from the fine print:

“Therefore, any losses for trip cancellation, trip interruption and/or trip delay caused by or resulting from quarantine due to COVID-19 is not considered “Unforeseen” and will not be covered under the terms and conditions of this insurance policy.”

Based on these factors, United Airlines’ travel insurance is not worth it.

Is JetBlue Flight Insurance worth it?

JetBlue offers a flight liability policy through Allianz that’s better than some other airline policies but not necessarily enough. What’s missing is coverage for non-refundable travel expenses like hotel stays and tours, as well as protection for some types of flight delays and lost or delayed baggage. Medical limits may also not be enough for most people, particularly those who have a pre-existing medical condition.

However, some highlights to note are that JetBlue coverage provides up to 100% reimbursement for certain medical expenses relating to COVID-19, as well as emergency medical and transportation benefits worth up to $50,000. JetBlue flight insurance also comes with 24/7 emergency travel assistance.

?Based on these factors, we think that JetBlue travel insurance is an okay option, but there are many more comprehensive plans available elsewhere.

Is Southwest Airlines Flight Insurance worth it?

Southwest Airlines does not offer flight insurance directly to customers who purchase airfare. If you’re flying Southwest and you want to make sure you’re covered, you’ll want to get a travel insurance quote from a third-party company.

About the Author

Holly D. Johnson
Holly D. Johnson Finance Expert

Holly D. Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who covers topics like insurance, investing, credit and family finance. As a leading voice in the travel and loyalty space, Johnson has traveled with her family to more than 50 countries over the last decade.

The author has also written extensively on the power of household budgeting, and she even co-authored a book on the topic. Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love was originally published in 2017, and it teaches families how to use zero-sum budgeting to reach their financial goals. She is also the co-owner and founder of the family finance and travel website, ClubThrifty.com.

Johnson’s 10+ years of writing have focused on helping families make important financial decisions at each stage of their lives. The author also applies the financial principles she teaches to her own life, and she is currently on track to retire in her late 40’s with her partner. She currently lives in Central Indiana with her husband and children, and she is a regular contributor for Bankrate, CNN, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report Travel and many other notable publications.

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