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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Flights delayed or cancelled: Know how travel insurance can help
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Flights delayed or cancelled: Know how travel insurance can help

A travel cover is designed to provide comprehensive coverage that can protect the traveller from various unforeseen circumstances.

Every winter, we see various flights getting delayed, diverted, or cancelled due to inclement weather.Premium
Every winter, we see various flights getting delayed, diverted, or cancelled due to inclement weather.

The media is rife with stories of passengers stranded at airports and inside the aircraft (even the tarmac in one case) due to flight delays caused by dense fog conditions in Delhi and other parts of north India. Every winter, we see various flights getting delayed, diverted, or cancelled due to inclement weather. Between January and November 2023, we saw 1.88 million passengers being affected due to flight delays and 249,000 passengers stranded due to flight cancellations. With Delhi experiencing one of the season’s worst fog this past week, an estimated over 1,000 flights were delayed by various airlines.

Travel insurance can help in such situations. A travel cover pays out a flat benefit to the traveller if the flight is delayed beyond a certain time limit, which is typically 2-3 hours. A flight can get delayed or cancelled not only due to inclement weather, but also due to technical or operational reasons, airport, or ATC issues, among others. In fact, one of the highest numbers of travel insurance claims that we see every year at Digit are due to flight cancellations and in FY23, most claims came due to flight delays. Despite the benefit, many don’t buy travel insurance largely due to lack of awareness and the optimism bias that anything going wrong during the trip is highly unlikely. Travel insurance is not just to cover you for incidents like flight delay or cancellations. It’s much beyond that. A travel cover is designed to provide comprehensive coverage that can protect the traveller from various unforeseen circumstances.

Other lesser known covers

We usually don’t assess the kind of things that can go wrong in our travel journey. But travel insurance tries to assume the risk of various perils that one may encounter and provides comprehensive coverage for the same. There are various coverages available under travel insurance that can be extremely useful under various circumstances. Your luggage could carry some expensive items. A travel plan can provide you coverage against any delay, damage, or total loss of your checked-in baggage. In fact, in FY23, baggage delay and loss accounted for top five trip-related claims at Digit.

If you miss a pre-booked connecting flight due to your first carrier getting delayed, insurance can cover any additional accommodation or travel costs incurred to reach your destination. Travel insurance can also come to your rescue in case you have to abandon or extend your trip due to any emergency or if any financial support is required if you lose your passport during your trip.

Coverage for high-impact events

While travel insurance covers you against various travel-related perils, one of the biggest exigencies it protects you against is emergency medical treatment and evacuation abroad. Medical treatments overseas are very expensive. Take for instance the case of a Digit customer who was travelling to the US. He developed chest pain and had to undergo medical treatment in a hospital in California, which cost nearly 19 lakh. As he had a cover of $100,000, the same was covered under his international travel insurance policy. Claims due to emergency medical treatment are in fact the third most common claims at Digit.

A travel insurance also provides personal liability and bail bond in case of any legal hassles when in a foreign country. For example, if you accidentally injure someone, damage someone’s property or accidentally knock over an expensive item in a shop and are held legally liable, personal liability coverage can help cover legal and settlement costs. Similarly, a bail bond coverage can help pay for your bail and other legal costs in case you are arrested for any minor or unintentional breach of law. In case of any unfortunate death in a foreign country, costs involving repatriation of the mortal remains are also covered by the insurer.

Highly affordable

While travel insurance provides a host of coverages, the premium is fairly cheap. For example, a 30-year-old can get travel insurance with a sum insured of $50,000 for a four-day Thailand trip for less than 300, while one can get a one-week travel cover of $100,000 sum insured to Schengen countries for less than 1,000 . One should look at buying travel insurance immediately after travel bookings are done as it covers you for the entire duration of the trip—before your flight journey begins (flight delays, cancellations, etc) to while you are travelling (baggage delay or loss, missed connection) to when you are at the destination (emergency medical treatment or trip extension, among others).

Vivek Chaturvedi is CMO and head of direct sales, Digit General Insurance. The views expressed in the column are his own.

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Published: 18 Jan 2024, 11:23 PM IST
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