Despite the relaxation and excitement that a vacation can bring, traveling can be stressful. You have to get to the airport on time, deal with the crowds at security, and keep all of your belongings secure — all while preparing for the possibility of a trip interruption such as a canceled flight or trip delay.
Between the bustling environment of the airport and uncontrollable factors like weather, there are many places where you can run into obstacles along your journey.
That’s why providers like American Airlines provide the option to add travel insurance coverage to your purchase. And at first glance, travel insurance may seem like a sensible purchase to protect you from anything that goes wrong with your trip.
But do you need travel insurance? If so, is American Airlines’ travel insurance actually worth buying? The short answer is usually no. In fact, AA’s policy may specifically exclude the very event you’re concerned about. In this guide, we’ll cover the ins and out of travel insurance cover so that you can make an informed decision.
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What Protection Does American Airlines’ Travel Insurance Cover?
Like other travel insurances, American Airlines’ travel insurance is sometimes advertised as if it is some necessity for every conscious consumer.
But before you click “purchase,” let’s look into what this policy really covers.
American Airlines’ travel insurance policy addresses a variety of scenarios that may alter your travel plans. These situations include:
- Circumstances impacting your travel – In the cases of illness, job loss, extreme weather, or other extenuating circumstances, travelers who purchase American Airlines travel insurance may receive financial coverage of changed plans or trip cancellation.
- Cancellations – If your flight is canceled, American Airlines travel insurance may reimburse some of your expenses.
- Lost luggage – A suitcase missing at baggage claim is a nightmare for any traveler. Travel insurance could potentially cover the cost of essential items you may need to purchase at your destination if your luggage is lost or delayed in transit.
- Injury or illness – If you sustain an injury or require medical attention during your trip, travel insurance can provide you with emergency medical and dental benefits in some cases.
- Damage to your rental car – Accidents can happen even when you’re on vacation, and it can be especially difficult to resolve legal and insurance matters when you get in an accident while driving a rented vehicle. American Airlines’ travel insurance could help you cover any damage to your rental car if your auto insurance policy only covers the vehicle you own. Keep in mind that, just as with regular auto insurance, exclusions apply.
- Theft – What happens if your rental car is stolen? American Airlines travel insurance can help you work through this stressful situation by providing theft coverage.
Airport employees are always doing their best to serve you, but long lines and complicated logistics can nonetheless make for a frustrating experience when problems arise.
American Airlines tries to encourage customers to purchase travel insurance by offering a streamlined customer service experience. In addition to these various areas of coverage, American Airlines also advertises the additional perk of “24/7 assistance hotline and concierge services” for customers who opt for travel insurance.
All of these offerings combine to depict a streamlined and protected travel experience.
But how accurate is this depiction, and is this travel protection worth the cost? Read on to dive deeper into the world of travel insurance writ large.
How Do I Know if a Travel Insurance Policy Is Worth It?
You’re not even legally allowed to drive without auto insurance, so does it follow that you should never be caught in the airport without travel insurance?
Sure, any number of scenarios could unfold and derail your travel plans. Insurance exists so you can stay protected in the event of these what-ifs—accidents, illnesses, and so on.
However, travel insurance policies aren’t always as beneficial to the customer as they may seem. Airlines take a large percentage of the profit from every insurance purchase, so it benefits them to market it to their customers as more essential than it is.
- With travel insurance, you may end up saving money in the case of flight cancellation or inclement weather.
- But consider your past travel history — most of the time, everything runs smoothly. You get where you’re going without spending money on insurance.
- Even if your journey does hit a roadblock or two, the policy may still not be your most economical option. When you dig deeper into the scenarios that travel insurance policies actually cover, you can expect to find many limitations and exclusions — so the coverage may not apply to your situation at all.
Are you worried about the possibility of extreme global circumstances throwing a wrench into your perfectly planned vacation?
While we live in an unpredictable world, it’s important to understand that travel insurance may specifically exclude the very situation you’ve been nervous about.
- Natural disasters
- Pollution leading to grounded or delayed flights
- Nuclear and radioactive events
- Civil unrest
- Government bans on travel
While these circumstances may sound extreme, less extreme conditions such as standard rain or snow will usually not alter your travel plans to the point where travel insurance would prove beneficial.
Travel Insurance and Medical Care
Maybe you’re worried about your health delaying your plans or causing you trouble once you arrive at your destination.
American Airlines’ policy also names many exclusions on when they will provide health coverage, including:
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Pregnancy, fertility treatments, and childbirth
- Mental health issues including self-harm
- Health issues accompanied by alcohol or drug use
- Issues stemming from training and competition in professional or amateur sports
Whether your condition is pre-existing or you start to feel sick after consuming a few too many airport martinis, there are many scenarios where your health needs will not be covered by travel insurance.
Additionally, even though many mental health disorders can lead to or cause physical ailments, travel insurance offers no coverage for them.
If you would like to account for potential health issues during travel, be sure to do your research to make sure your areas of concern are covered by the policy.
Travel Insurance in the COVID-19 Pandemic
We’ve already talked about one major exclusion — epidemics.
Of course, we’re continuing to live with the global results of a pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has introduced a new level of precarity to the travel industry, with increased regulations and safety measures impacting flight schedules and airline ticket availability.
This uncertainty around travel may make travel insurance seem like a reasonable step to take. If your flight is canceled or rescheduled, you don’t want to be left in the dust.
However, American Airlines’ travel insurance does not offer protection against issues caused by the pandemic.
How do other policies stack up? Unfortunately, the Consumers Checkbook explains that “Most travel insurance policies specifically list epidemics and pandemics as general exclusions, which means if you buy one of these policies you aren't covered if you cancel or interrupt your trip due to an outbreak.”
You certainly want to handle travel with care and precision. However, travel insurance may not be the best way to do so.
Your best bet is to arrive at the airport early to give yourself ample time to sort out any issues. In addition, pay attention to safety protocols to protect your health and the health of your fellow travelers.
American Airlines goes even further to shift the responsibility onto the individual and avoid covering losses.
They list the broad exclusion of “any loss, condition, or event that was known, foreseeable, intended, or expected when your certificate was purchased.”
Intent can be a hard thing to prove. Given the wording of these exclusions, it appears that American Airlines has broad discretion to avoid payouts on travel insurance.
A 2018 study on travel insurance by the office of Senator Edward Markey — aptly titled the Flyer Beware Report — reports, “The airlines and OTAs aggressively market these insurance policies as providing total trip protection, but travelers who purchase these insurance policies through airline or OTA websites may get much less coverage — and security — than they are led to believe.”
What Other Travel Insurance Options Do I Have?
Senator Markey’s study suggests that seeking out third-party travel insurance may be more advantageous than purchasing a policy directly from your air carrier.
Just because you want to stay protected while you travel doesn’t mean you need to buy the exact policy that is being pushed on you by your airline. Remember: you are in control of the insurance that you obtain. Despite what your airline tells you, there are other options out there.
How We Can Help You Stay Protected
The insurance market can be a tricky one to navigate. Different providers attempt to pull you in different directions and persuade you to buy their products. In many cases, they may be prioritizing their profits over your best interest.
Don’t fall victim to these business practices and end up with an expensive insurance policy you don’t need. We’re here to help you navigate the world of travel insurance — and all kinds of insurance! — bringing clarity to the chaos. We offer free comparative quotes, helping businesses and consumers make connections and find excellent matches for their needs and wants.