Most major airlines and online travel agents (e.g. Orbitz, Expedia) are now offering travel insurance before you complete your vacation plans. For years I have seen these offers, but never found myself compelled to purchase a policy.
A few weeks ago I purchased a "too good to be true" flight from Spirit Airlines and suddenly I found myself in need of added security. Spirit was offering round trip airfares for $0.99. (Note: That's 99 cents - not dollars). I was skeptical of the offer and wanted to avoid being stranded should my flight be canceled, so I purchased a travel insurance policy from AIG Travel Guard.
As luck would have it, I was forced to cancel my travel plans with Spirit Airlines. Although my ticket only cost me a $1, I wanted to test out the range of my insurance policy. "Would my $15 insurance policy cover my $1 flight"?
Summary of my call with AIG:
Nay on the refund. AIG would have refunded the ticket if my change in travel plans were due to a death or some type of disaster. Covered claims usually involve canceled flights or extreme delays (due to weather or maintenance).
In the event you do qualify for a claim you must provide evidence of your flight and the conditions that caused your inconvenience
- If a flight is canceled you must get the airline to write a note confirming the conditions that lead to the cancellation.
- If you have a sudden emergency (typically health related) and need to cut your trip short, the insurance company will require medical documents
The general theme is that you need third party documents to successfully submit a travel insurance claim. Obviously AIG can't just hand out claims, but I have to imagine the last thing the airline wants to do - with 200 screaming passengers looking for a new flight - is to write you a note confirming they have stranded you. This is the catch of any type of travel insurance - everyone needs proof of your inconvenience. We recently wrote about new vacation rental policies that offer protection from falsely advertised homes, but these policies also come with fine print that require proactive leg work on the consumer's side.
Insurance helps us feel secure with our travel plans, but should you ever purchase a travel insurance policy remember to be proactive. If any thing goes wrong ask for documentation, take pictures and collect contact numbers in case additional follow-up is necessary.