Does travel insurance cover flight cancellation?

Travel insurance can cover costs if you need to cancel your flight. However, this is usually under specific circumstances, such as you’ve had to cancel your flight or holiday because of an illness or injury. Other valid cancellations may include bereavement or job loss. Find out more below.

If you’ve just decided not to travel, or if you’ve been dismissed of resigned from your job and can’t afford your holiday anymore, you’re unlikely to be able to use your travel insurance to claim back flight costs.

Travel insurance can cover costs if you need to cancel your flight. However, this is usually under specific circumstances, such as you’ve had to cancel your flight or holiday because of an illness or injury. Other valid cancellations may include bereavement or job loss. Find out more below.

If you’ve just decided not to travel, or if you’ve been dismissed of resigned from your job and can’t afford your holiday anymore, you’re unlikely to be able to use your travel insurance to claim back flight costs.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
6
minute read
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Posted 29 JANUARY 2020 Last Updated 12 MAY 2022

My flight was cancelled (or severely delayed). Do I have flight cancellation insurance as part of my travel insurance?

Most standard travel insurance policies include cover for flight cancellations. However, different policies may have different rules and exclusions, as to which types of cancellations are covered. For example, while you won’t usually be able to get compensation directly from an airline, in the event of your flight being cancelled because of a natural disaster, you would normally be able to claim for it through your travel insurance. The airline won’t claim responsibility, because it was out of their control, but it wasn’t in yours either, so you should be covered by a travel insurance policy. 

It’s often a bit of a guessing game to find out who’s responsible for paying you if you can’t make your flight (because of a reason out of your control) but your insurance provider is usually the best person to speak to first, and they can advise you on how to go about getting your money back.

Your travel insurance policy may allow you to reclaim all your costs if:

  • Your flight is delayed more than 24 hours, or
  • Your flight is cancelled and the airline doesn’t rebook you on an alternative flight within 24 hours.

Does travel insurance cover cancellation for any reason?

Different travel insurance policies will cover different things, but here’s an idea of what you can expect to be covered, as well as the common exclusions. As insurance is designed to cover things you can’t predict, not every scenario will be included. 

Common inclusions (unforeseen circumstances):

  • Natural disasters
  • Injury or illness (these may vary)
  • Travel destination becomes unsafe
  • Bereavement
  • Flood, fire or burglary at your home shortly before your departure date
  • Redundancy
  • Jury duty

Common exclusions (foreseen circumstances):

  • Undeclared medical conditions
  • Known illness of a close relative (bereavement wouldn’t be included in this instance)
  • Injury and illness related to alcohol or drugs
  • Organised strike action

As always, make sure you check this with your travel insurance provider, before you take out a policy and prepare to travel, to avoid a nasty surprise. All it takes is a quick scan of the small print or a call to a provider. It’s never a fun job but making sure you have the right kind of cover could save you a big bill and a whole lot of stress.  

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. 

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

My flight was cancelled, and my policy doesn’t cover it. How can I get compensation?

If your flight is cancelled or is delayed by more than three hours, your airline should compensate you. To find out the airline’s specific procedure for making a claim, check its website or call in.

Even after Brexit, you’ll still have the right to a full refund or compensation if your flight was between the UK and EU (no matter the airline), or any flight operated by a UK-based airline. Depending on the extent of the disruption you suffered, the amount you could get in compensation can vary.

It’s also worth checking what’s covered by the travel cancellation part of your travel insurance. A travel insurance claim could help you cover the cost of your holiday for your hire car, to cancel a connecting flight, or to cover that hotel room you pre-booked. These costs can really add up, so it’s well worth finding out what parts of a holiday are covered by your insurance before you set off.  

I need to cancel my seat on a flight. Am I covered?

Your travel insurance could well cover you if you need to cancel your seat on a flight due to unexpected events like these:

  • Unforeseen illness or injury suffered by you or by a close relative, by your intended travelling companion or by the person you were going to stay with when you were away.
  • If you have to attend a court of law as a witness or on jury service.
  • If you are made redundant from your job.
  • If you or your travelling companion is a member of the armed forces, police, fire, nursing, or ambulance services or a government employee who can no longer travel because authorised leave has been cancelled.
  • The police requesting you to remain at home or return from your holiday because of damage to your home caused by fire, explosion, flood, theft.

Looking for travel insurance with the right level of cover for your next trip? Compare today and see how much you could save.

How can I get cancellation cover?

Cancellation cover is a common inclusion with most standard travel insurance policies, but you can take it out separately if it doesn’t offer enough cover. Alternatively, if you only want cancellation cover to protect you against cancelled flights, rather than things like baggage protection, you can just get it for that.

As always, it’s all about the small print, so double and triple check what you’re covered for before you buy insurance. It’s always worth weighing up all the costs - an insurance policy providing higher levels of cover will probably be more expensive but it’ll also provide peace of mind.

What are my rights if my flight is cancelled?

If your flight is cancelled (or delayed by more than three hours), then your airline must offer compensation. Each airline will have their own processes, so you should check their website, or give them a call, to find out what you need to do.

Depending on the circumstances of the cancellation, you’ll either be entitled to compensation directly from the airline, or through claiming on your travel insurance policy. Check your policy wording for details on whether you’re covered.

If the airline cancels the flight, for a reason such as being short staffed, it has an obligation to offer you an alternative flight or a full refund. If you decide to rearrange your flight, the airline should work with you to find suitable dates and will then simply transfer your booking. Your airline may offer you a voucher/credit for the cost of your flight, but you’re under no obligation to accept this, and are well within your rights to demand a full cash refund.

If the airline is forced to cancel the flight, due to circumstances outside of their control, then you may not be entitled to compensation. If this ends up being the case, then you should then look to make a claim on your travel insurance policy. This is why having insurance is so important, it can be a safety net to fall back on if you can’t claim compensation from an airline. 

Does travel insurance cover accommodation if my flight is cancelled?

If you have cancellation cover, as part of your travel insurance policy, you should be covered with a full refund for both your flight and accommodation.

If you booked your flight and accommodation separately, the airline won’t be responsible for your hotel booking, which means you’d need to make a travel insurance claim separately. If you booked your flight as part of a package, then your tour operator should offer compensation, or an alternative booking for both your flight and hotel. If your holiday isn’t a package deal, insurance plays a bigger role as it can cover every leg of the journey, from the flight to your accommodation and any pre-planned trips you’ve paid for.  

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