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Travel insurance & overbooked flights

overbooking
As we’ve seen in the unfortunate episode with United Airlines, overbooking can have dire consequences for busy travellers.
 
A necessary evil of modern day travel, overbooking allows airlines to maintain a healthy profit margin and fill the seats that no-show passengers leave behind. And while some travellers may actually opt to get ‘bumped’ in exchange for cash or free flight vouchers, harangued passengers may find themselves less than pleased to find themselves involuntarily booted.
 

Are you covered for overbooked flights?

So what are your provisions as a ‘booted’ traveller? Would you be able to claim on travel insurance if your journey was abruptly disrupted by your airline? The answer will come down to your individual circumstances.
 
Getting kicked off an overbooked flight can be understandably frustrating for travellers on tight schedules. Luckily, affected passengers can potentially claim on their travel insurance should they find themselves out of pocket for any additional travel expenses. In the event that your airline will not compensate you and you have something in writing to confirm you were denied boarding due to overbooking, you would be eligible to claim.
 
Keep in mind that you would require a delay of six or more hours before travel insurance benefits were to kick in. Benefits would not apply to travellers who volunteered to be bumped from a flight. Neither would they apply to passengers arriving late for their flight.
  
Those unsure if they could claim for overbooking should check their travel insurance policies.
 Some travel insurers would classify this type of benefit as ‘disruption of journey’ or ‘trip disruption.’ The definitions and exclusions across varying policies may differ so it’s well worth taking the time to research your policy. Give your insurer a call if you have any questions. Knowing when you can and cannot claim can minimise your frustrations and help you understand your entitlements.”
 
It’s important to remember that while you may be covered for additional food and accommodation expenses due to overbooking, the flight itself would not be covered.
 

missed flights and travel insurance

Many people believe that travel insurance will cover them regardless of the reason. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Missed flights that are due to a fault on the airline's part would be their responsibility to cover. However, if you were suitably delayed due to no fault of your own, you may certainly have provision to claim for additional food and accommodation expenses.

 In a nutshell, the following applies to missed flights and travel insurance.. 

What’s not covered:  

  • When the delay is caused by your airline: Mechanical faults, delays or overbooking on your flight should all be compensated for by your airline. 

  • You’re late and don’t make it to your gate on time. Unfortunately, tardiness is not an insurable event 

  • You are offered compensation or an alternative flight by your airline and you decline it. 

  • You’ve upgraded your flight. If you miss your flight due to a covered event such as a car accident, you would not be eligible for a first class or business ticket if you hadn’t originally booked the upgrade (unless those are the only available seats). 

When you are covered:  

If you’ve missed your flight and neither you nor your airline can be blamed you could potentially have a successful claim on your hands. You would be covered if:  

  • You are involved in a car, rain, bus or marine accident and cannot get to the airport in time for your flight.  

  • You can’t make your plane due to a natural disaster, severe weather, hijacking, riots or civil unrest. The event must have begun after the insurance policy was issued.  

  • You are ill or injured and a doctor informs your insurer that you are unfit to get on a plane. You will require this notice to be in writing and the illness or injury in question cannot be due to a pre-existing condition.  

As a general rule, airlines need to take responsibility for their service. It is primarily the airline’s obligation to compensate you for mechanical faults, delays or overbooking on your flight. For everything else, there is travel insurance.

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