Can I claim travel insurance for a cancelled flight?

If your flight has been cancelled and you’re looking to file a claim for the cancellation, you need to ask yourself three things:

  1. Why was this flight cancelled?
  2. What is the impact on the rest of my trip?
  3. Is this something travel insurance covers?

The answers to those questions will determine whether your claim will be paid.

Why your flight was cancelled

Basically, the way you’d have a claim paid for a cancelled flight with most travel insurance plans is if you lost the money you paid for a ticket and were unable to reclaim it by either getting a refund or a flight.

On the other hand, if your flight is rebooked – even if it’s rebooked several days later – you can’t file a travel insurance claim for the flight itself. There can be many other expenses related to your travel delay that you can file a claim for – the cruise you missed, the hotels you reserved, the event you booked – but not the flight.

The impact on the rest of your trip

Here’s where most of the claims come in. If the cancelled flight messed up other aspects of your trip that you’d already paid for, you may get reimbursed for those.

They include:

Trip delay

Very often a flight cancellation causes your trip to be delayed. If that happens and the delay is significant, most travel insurance plans have a provision that will pay you for the inconvenience and may cover some additional expenses.

The thing to watch for in this coverage is the length of the delay that qualifies as a claimable delay. With ExactCare Extra®, it’s five hours, but it can vary greatly from plan to plan.

This is something to watch for and study in your policy.

Missed connection

If the flight cancellation causes you to miss your connection, many travel insurance plans will pay you either a fixed amount or on a sliding scale depending on extra costs you had to pay as a result of the missed connection.

This could include costs involved with catching up with a cruise or event tickets you can’t use because you missed your flight.


If the flight cancellation messes with your baggage and results in it being lost, damaged, or delayed, many travel insurance plans cover that, and you can file a claim to be reimbursed.

Be aware that baggage coverage varies significantly from plan to plan, so read your policy before you leave, understand the extent of your baggage coverage, and ask the insurance company for clarification on things you don’t understand.

(You can – and should – do all this before you buy your policy.)

Flight departure delay

Often a flight cancellation will have a domino effect, or bad weather can affect multiple flights. If that causes your next flight to be delayed significantly, plans like ExactCare Extra will pay a fixed amount for departure delay.

This is not a common coverage, so check to make sure it’s included in your plan.

Trip interruption

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a flight cancellation triggered by something like a catastrophic weather event can force you to interrupt your entire trip. When that happens, trip interruption coverage will reimburse you for what you’ve paid for the portion of the trip you won’t be able to use, as well as additional expenses related to getting you back home.

If you’re going to file a trip interruption claim, it’s crucial that you read the covered reasons for trip interruption listed in your policy and make sure your reason is one of them.

For example, interrupting a trip because you’re afraid bad weather might strike your destination is not a covered reason for trip interruption; actual bad weather making your destination uninhabitable is.

What travel insurance covers

Most travel insurance just covers loss, meaning you have to lose something that you’ve insured (your travel expenses, your baggage, your health) for travel insurance to pay you money.

Many plans offered by Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection also cover inconveniences caused by travel mishaps.

In general, if you haven’t suffered a real loss and you’re not greatly inconvenienced by a flight cancellation, most travel plans won’t pay a claim.

But it’s always best to read your policy … just to be sure.