Should I add travel insurance to my trip? | Air travel tips

TAMPA, Fla. — News of endless delays and cancellations across airlines might have you a bit nervous heading into the holiday season.

On Nov. 1, American Airlines canceled nearly 500 flights, while Southwest Airlines dealt with 1,025 delays. Earlier this year Spirit was also hit hard with nationwide cancellations that surpassed 1,700 flights.

The root of the problem? Airlines are pointing the finger at everything from staffing issues, to computer glitches and inclement weather. Experts say the issues don’t look like they’ll be letting up any time soon.

“There will be more delays, associated with the weather especially as things move in,” said 10 Tampa Bay Aviation Expert Mark Weinkrantz.

Weinkrantz, a retired commercial airline pilot, says with barely enough workers and computerized flight management there’s simply no room for error.

Any problem creates a domino effect.

“The crews are maxed out. The planes are maxed out,” said Weinkrantz. “Maintenance now has to back the stuff up. Because they’re flying the airplanes. The demand was unexpected to spring back so quickly.”

It’s something that has more passengers weighing the pros and cons of adding travel insurance when booking a trip to help protect themselves financially from worst-case-scenario situations.

According to Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison website, 70 percent more travelers are insuring their trips this holiday season than they were in 2019.

“In the majority of cases, having a travel insurance policy is most beneficial when your trip involves unused, prepaid, non-refundable expenses, and the greater the amount of those expenses, the greater the likelihood that you might wish to protect that investment with insurance,” Scott Adamski with AIG Travel told Forbes.

While most coverage varies and you’ll want to do your research to shop around, here is what NerdWallet says most policies will cover:

  • Trip cancellations**
  • Medical emergencies
  • Lost or damaged baggage/Baggage delays
  • Travel delay**
  • Flight change fees
  • Rental car damage protection

** The insurance takes care of prepaid, nonrefundable expenses if canceled for a covered reason like an unexpected injury, legal obligations, unforeseen natural disasters, etc.

On the other hand, travel insurance won’t protect you from all circumstances or cover all costs. For example, you’re out of luck if you cancel for any non-covered reason or if your reservation is already refundable.

Here are some additional tips to consider from TravelWorld Travel Agency President Don Oneal:

  • Just because you get a delay notification, don’t skip a trip to the airport, he said. If your plane ends up leaving without you, you might not get reimbursed.
  • Deal with the airline on multiple platforms including in person at customer service, through social media, and by phone.
  • And consider trip insurance that covers not only cancellations but delays. Even if you get reimbursed for your flight, the airlines might not pay for food or an unexpected extra hotel night, said Oneal. Coverage usually runs from $25 to $45.

“It’s worth the money,” Oneal said. “You know if you spend $1,500 for the family to go somewhere, spend an extra hundred bucks and cover your bet. Even if you only had to buy one meal you’d be ahead.”