Travel delay coverage is provided in many travel insurance plans. Your travel could be delayed for many reasons, such as inclement weather, mechanical issues with the aircraft, air traffic delays and many other reasons. Travel delay coverage would provide reimbursement for additional expenses incurred, like meals and hotel accommodations, when your trip is delayed for a covered reason.
Coverage through Airline
Don't expect an airline to provide you with any type of coverage or benefit if your flight is delayed. Airlines, at least the ones in the U.S., are not obligated to provide compensation or other benefits for flight delays; they are not required to provide you with food or a hotel room or vouchers for a travel delay.
Comprehensive travel insurance would often include travel delay coverage.
The exact coverage varies by the insurance policy; typically compensation for the following covered reasons are provided under travel delay coverage policies:
- Inclement weather
- Mechanical issues
- Common carrier issues
- Unannounced strikes
- Natural disasters
- Flight cancellation or delay
- Quarantine of you or your traveling companion
- Lost or stolen passports, money or other travel documents
- Severe weather causing a route to be closed by the government officials such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
- A traffic accident in which you are your traveling companion are not directly involved.
When your trip is delayed more than a certain duration (hours or overnight), travel insurance will provide coverage for reasonable expenses for necessary items, on a per-day limit basis and/or up to the policy limit.
Usual covered expenses are:
- Extended boarding of your pet
- Extended childcare
- Ground transportation such as taxi, bus, shuttle etc.
- Non-refundable pre-payments for the part of your cruise or tour you missed due to the delay
- Rental car
Additionally, some plans may also cover the additional expenses for you to catch up to your cruise or tour, or to return home.
Exclusions and Limitations
There would be no coverage for several scenarios such as:
- Unnecessary expenses, such as bar tab if you have a drink while your flight is delayed.
- An airline informed you in advance about the travel delay but you still didn't change your travel plans.
- You missed your flight because you overslept, became stuck in traffic or are simply running late.
- Travel delays for one-way flights.
Additionally, the following limitations may apply:
- Any benefits provided under travel delay coverage can not duplicate the benefits for the missed connection coverage.
- If you received any refund from travel suppliers, such as an airline or a tour operator, that amount would be deducted from your travel insurance claim benefit.
The exact coverage varies by the insurance policy. However, most have the following parameters:
- Minimum delay (in hours): Varies from 5 to 12 hours delay before the insurance will pay any benefit.
- Per-day limit: Varies from $100 or $300 but some policies have no such per-day limit.
- Policy limit: Varies from $500 to $1,500.
Some plans provide trip cancellation benefit if your trip is delayed up to a certain extent, as described below:
- If you are delayed at least 50% of your trip length, the insurance will provide trip cancellation benefit.
- Some plans may provide you the ability to purchase an upgrade that would provide a trip cancellation benefit if you are delayed more than 30% of your trip length.
- Some policies may provide trip cancellation coverage if your trip is delayed by 24 hours or more.
However, trip cancellation should not be your first option and you must continue to make a good-faith effort to continue your travels. Make sure to document your efforts to do so.
While making a claim for travel delay coverage, you may have to provide the following documents:
- Receipts for expenses
- Boarding pass
- Statement from your common carrier showing that your trip was delayed; this statement would include details explaining that you were delayed, the reason for the delay and the duration of the delay.
- Claim form
- There may be additional documentation required by the insurance company.
Most policies provide travel delay coverage on reimbursement basis only.
It is very important to purchase travel insurance that includes travel delay coverage.