Travel insurance: will it cover missed connecting flights?
Getting successfully from one place in the world to another often relies on smooth interconnecting flights. But will your travel insurance pay out for missed flights?
Travel can be a complicated business when it involves several different components. Here’s what you need to know about travel insurance for missed flights.
Am I covered with my travel insurance for missed flights?
It is possible to buy travel insurance for missed flights. However, different policies will have different cover depending on the types of flights and the circumstances.
Standard travel insurance policies, especially at the cheaper end of the market, are unlikely to provide cover for missed flights at all. You will need to buy this as an ‘add-on’, which will involve paying extra.
Even with an add-on, some policies will only cover you for missed outbound and final inbound flights, not connecting flights. As always, check the policy wording carefully if missed connecting flights are something you specifically want cover for.
Does it matter why I missed the connecting flight?
Even when you buy travel insurance for missed flight connections, whether you will be eligible to claim will be subject to specific criteria – as set out below.
What does travel insurance for missed flights cover?
Before making a claim on your travel insurance for missed flights cover, it’s a good idea to know what is generally included in these policies:
Public transport delays
Road accidents (some insurers will only cover you if this occurred on a dual carriageway or motorway)
It’s important to consider what the insurer will cover you for, as in other instances, it’s yours or the airline’s responsibility.
What if a missed connection is the airline’s fault?
If you missed a flight because your airline did not deliver you to the next airport on time (and you have one single through ticket), it’s the airline’s responsibility to put you on an alternative flight, as well as provide accommodation and food costs where necessary.
For this reason, travel insurance for missed flights won’t provide you with compensation, as it is the airline at fault.
You may be able to claim compensation directly from the airline under EU rules in some circumstances – for instance, if you are travelling within the UK/EU on an EU-regulated flight and you reach your final destination more than three hours late due to a connecting flight being delayed or cancelled as a result of something within the airline’s control.
If your connecting flight was booked separately from your original flight, however – and it’s not a single ‘through ticket’ – your claim will be limited to the delay on that individual flight.
What if a missed flight connection is my fault?
If you missed your connecting flight because you simply spent too long in the duty free or the airport bar, you’re very unlikely to be offered compensation through your travel insurance for missed flight or from the airline.
What if a missed flight connection was due to missing my original outbound flight?
If you didn’t make your connecting flight as a result of missing your original outbound flight, whether your insurance will pay out will also depend on the circumstances.
For example, if you simply didn’t leave enough time to get to the airport (factoring in heavy traffic) or enough time to get through security (factoring in lengthy queues), then your claim on travel insurance for missed flights is unlikely to be successful.
However, if you missed your original flight for reasons such as a major delay on public transport, a road accident, a car breakdown, or extreme weather conditions, your claim may be successful.
Will my travel insurance cover me if I make my own arrangements for a missed flight that isn’t my fault?
If you make your own arrangements for missing a flight due to something like severe weather, you should receive compensation from your travel insurance provider. However, you will be reimbursed for the cost of the first ticket – so don’t expect to be paid out by your insurer if you go on to book a new flight in a higher class.
If I miss my departure flight, will my return flight still be valid?
If you’re at fault for missing your first flight and fail to alert the airline, perhaps if you decide to make your own arrangements, it’s likely that your return flight will be cancelled.
Without informing the airline, they can’t make arrangements for you or receive confirmation that you will be still using the return ticket, so they usually sell this on. However, if you have purchased tickets separately, it’s unlikely that it will be sold – but it’s still vital to inform them of your plans!
What if I have checked luggage but missed my flight?
If you’ve got checked luggage but have missed your flight, unfortunately, you won’t be covered. However, if the airline has temporarily lost them, they may cover the cost of essentials, like clothes.
As soon as you’re aware that you’ve missed your flight or you won’t make it after already checking your bags, you must head to the customer service desk. There might be a slight chance they can get hold of them, or otherwise, they will store them safely at the arrival airport until you can retrieve them.
What should I do if I miss my initial flight or connection?
If you arrive at the airport too late to catch your flight, go straight to your airline’s customer services desk, explain what’s happened, and see what they can do. Being polite and staying calm will help in every case.
Always make sure you have the right travel insurance policy for your needs around missed flights and connections by comparing travel insurance deals and checking the small print.
How much can I claim on travel insurance for missed flight connections?
Each travel insurance policy will set down a cap on the amount you can claim for missed connecting flights. This can be anywhere between a few hundred to several thousands of pounds depending on the policy.
What do I need to make a claim for a missed connecting flight?
As with any kind of insurance claim, the more evidence you can gather, the better. Here’s how to prepare for a claim on a missed connecting flight:
Compile original travel documents, receipts, and tickets, and organise digital versions into a specific folder
Ask the airline’s customer services department to confirm delays or cancellations for connecting flights and take screenshots of any app updates on your phone if you can
Take pictures of public transport display boards informing delays and cancellations
For delays on the road caused by an accident or bad weather, take pictures or video with your phone if you are a passenger, and request confirmation from the Department of Transport or Highways Agency
If your vehicle broke down on the way to the airport, get written confirmation from the breakdown company
How can I avoid missing my connecting flights?
Whether you have booked different connecting flights yourself or all of your connections are on one through ticket, you should ideally have a minimum one-hour transfer window for domestic flights, and two-hour for international flights.
Sometimes, even the airlines themselves give you a tight turnaround between arriving and getting to the next departure gate. In any case, make sure you are fully prepared for what’s coming.
For example, find out in advance whether you’ll have to go through customs or change terminals, whether the connecting flight is with the same or a different airline, and whether it’s the last connecting flight from that airport that day.
Even if you think you have time, resist the urge to pop into a shop or even grab a coffee – it’s crucial that you get to the departure gate first.
Compare travel insurance
The best way to make sure you’ll be covered for all of your trips is to shop around for travel insurance using a price comparison site like MoneySuperMarket.
Our travel insurance price comparison tool is quick and easy to use – simply give us a few details about yourself and your trip, and we’ll do the rest. You’ll be able to compare hundreds of policies from dozens of insurers and quickly see which activities are included.