Will my travel insurance cover missed flights?

Abbie Laughton-Coles
Abbie Laughton-Coles
Updated 30 September 2022  | 5 mins read

You may have a laminated itinerary detailing your holiday schedule down to the minute, including arriving at the airport in plenty of time to catch your flight. But, unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan.

So what can you do if you miss your flight, whether it’s inbound, outbound or a connection, and is it covered by your travel insurance?

Key points

  • Some policies will include missed flight cover as standard, whereas others will require you to purchase it as an optional extra
  • Your insurer will only accept certain reasons for missing your flights when investigating your claim
  • If you missed a flight and the airline is at fault, it’s their responsibility to find you a new flight

Does travel insurance cover missed flights?

The level of cover will differ between insurers and policies, but you may find you can claim for missed flights.

Some policies will include this type of cover as standard, or it may be available as an add-on, which means you’ll have to pay extra to make sure you’re protected.

There will be exclusions on what you can claim for. Some will cover you up to a certain amount or may exclude connection flights, and the reason why you missed your flight will be considered.

Does it matter why I missed my connecting flight?

Yes, it does. Your claim will likely be rejected if you miss your flight because of a reason that isn’t outlined in the policy details.

Typically, if your travel insurance includes missed flight cover, you can claim if:

  • Your car breaks down
  • Severe weather conditions prevent you from getting to the airport on time
  • A significant delay on public transport means you’re late
  • An accident on the road stops you from making your flight
  • Unforeseen heavy traffic and road closures stop your journey

On the other hand, the following probably won’t be covered:

  • Strikes, industrial action, or severe weather conditions that were public knowledge prior to your date of departure
  • If you break down because your car wasn’t adequately maintained or serviced
  • You don’t allow enough time to arrive at the airport
  • You overslept
  • Traffic is heavy due to planned roadworks
  • You decline any alternate flights offered by your airline

Whatever the reason for your claim, you’ll be required to provide evidence to your insurer that missing your flight was unavoidable and not your fault. It's important to check your individual policy as conditions may wary between different policies. 

What does travel insurance for missed flights cover?

It will depend on the policy, but you may be entitled to a reimbursement of your flight costs and any unforeseen accommodation costs you’re required to pay because you missed your flight.

This will usually be up to a certain amount, with claim limits increasing for more comprehensive travel insurance cover.

Some policies will only cover the cost of the flight itself, and you’ll be required to pay your own accommodation costs if you need to stay in a hotel overnight. Check the wording of your policy carefully, so you know exactly what is included.

What if a missed connection is the airline’s fault?

If the airline is responsible for you missing a connecting flight, they should offer you a replacement flight and cover the cost of any necessary food and accommodation.

This could be due to your previous flight being over three hours late or cancelled, or you may have been stopped from boarding.

  • You may also be entitled to compensation under European Union (EU) law if:
  • You’re flying within the EU on any airline
  • You’re flying from the EU to anywhere in the world on any airline
  • You’re flying into the EU from outside of it, on an airline which has its headquarters in the EU

Each airport has a minimum connecting time, which is the least amount of time you need to make your connection flight when travelling through there. If the airline is at fault for you having less than the minimum connecting time, you may be able to claim compensation for your missed flight. It’s vital that you’re travelling on one ticket for your entire journey though, even if there are multiple connections.

It's also worth noting that this EU law includes certain countries that are outside of the EU, like Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway.

What if a missed flight connection is my fault?

Unfortunately, if you miss your connecting flight due to poor timekeeping, you won’t be able to claim.

What if a missed flight connection was due to missing my original outbound flight?

Whether you can claim will depend on if you missed your original flight due to a reason that’s covered by your policy, like your car breaking down, for example.

If it was your fault that you missed the original flight, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to claim for a missed connection.

Will my travel insurance cover me if I make my own arrangements for a missed flight that isn’t my fault?

If it isn’t your fault and is included in your policy, you should be covered for the cost of arranging a new flight but only up to the price of your original ticket. You won’t be able to buy a higher value ticket and claim for it.

Remember that if it’s the airline’s fault, they should find you a replacement flight at no extra cost, which means it won’t be necessary to claim on your travel insurance. In this case, your airline should be your first port of call.

Will my return flight still be valid if I miss my departure flight?

It may be cancelled and sold on by the airline if you miss your departure flight and fail to let them know you still require your return flight.

Always contact the airline to inform them that you still want your flight home and how your plans have changed to make sure you won’t be stuck at the airport when you’re supposed to be heading home.

If you bought your outbound and inbound flights separately, so they’re on different airlines, your return flight won’t be cancelled.

What if I have already checked my luggage but missed my flight?

You can speak to the airline representative at their customer service desk in the airport departure terminal. They may be able to locate your luggage and retrieve it for you. Alternatively, they can arrange for your luggage to be held at your destination airport until you can pick it up.

If they’ve lost your checked luggage, you must register it as lost and it should be returned to you as soon as possible. Be sure to give them the correct address of where you’re staying while on holiday or your home address if it’s a return flight, so it can be delivered to you promptly.

You also may be entitled to compensation to cover any new clothes and essentials you need while your luggage is being located. You may need to cover the cost at first, as it may take a while when your claim is being reviewed. Check the terms and conditions of the airline carefully.

What should I do if I miss my initial flight or connection?

You can speak to the airline’s customer service team at the airport and see whether they’d be able to get you on another flight as soon as possible. You’ll likely be put on the reserve list. It may not be ideal, and you might have to be a bit more flexible, but it could save your holiday.

Try to contact the airline before you reach the airport if you think you might miss your flight. They could get you on the reserve list as soon as possible.

If you weren’t at fault for missing your flight, you should then contact your travel insurer to see if you’re able to make a claim on your policy to cover the cost of the new flights, plus any necessary accommodation.

You’ll also want to confirm any return flights with the airline to avoid them being cancelled.

How much can I claim on my travel insurance for missed flight connections?

There’ll be a limit on how much you can claim for missed flight connections (if it’s covered at all) which will be detailed in your policy documents.

It can vary greatly, not only between insurers, but also between policies. A higher level of cover could mean that you can claim a few thousand pounds. Lower levels may only offer a limit of a couple hundred.

What do I need to make an insurance claim for a missed flight?

It’s vital you collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim for a missed flight. This will help the process go a lot smoother.

This could include:

  • News reports of unforeseen severe weather events or road closures
  • Pictures or videos of public transport delays and cancellations on display boards
  • A dated confirmation of your breakdown from your breakdown company
  • Road traffic incident report, if applicable
  • Video or photos of delays in traffic caused by an accident on the road
  • Confirmation from the airline if your outbound flight is delayed, so you miss your connecting flight

Apart from this, you’ll need all your travel details and flight confirmations, as well as your travel insurance policy number. Make sure you have everything to hand before contacting the insurer.

How can I avoid missing my connecting flights?

The key to making your connection flight is preparation.

Before you leave for your departure flight, make sure you know exactly what you’ll be required to do when you arrive at your connection airport. This could include changing terminals, which might mean a lot of rushing around, especially if your outbound flight was delayed.

If you’re struggling to find out where you need to go, ask a member of airport staff as soon as possible rather than wandering around.

If a flight itinerary gives you an extremely tight turnaround, it may be worth choosing another option, especially if you have children or people with mobility issues in your party.

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