Do you need travel insurance to cover your redemption ticket?

I get the occasional email regarding travel insurance for mileage redemption tickets.  To be honest, I have never fully seen the point unless you have a pre-paid hotel reservation at your destination.

With Avios, for example, British Airways allows you to cancel a redemption ticket up to 24 hours before travel.  (BMI used to allow you to do it with one hour notice!)  The chances of becoming ill during that 24 hour window are slim.  Virgin Atlantic has a similar policy.

Even if you do want to insure your miles, an independent insurance company cannot replace them for you.  It does not have the ability to put miles into your account.

Avios does offer travel insurance policies which protect your milesYou can find details here.

Travel insurance

The policy document is fairly unclear about what happens with Avios tickets.  If you cancel your trip, you can claim for costs “(including the value of payments using Avios which you cannot recover)”.  What does this actually mean?  Do you get your points returned?  (This could be arranged as this is an official Avios insurance policy.)  Or do you receive some nominal cash sum based on the perceived value of the points?

I would be surprised if many people had ever claimed on this given the tiny 24 hour window between free cancellation being available and the time of travel.

Virgin Atlantic used to offer travel insurance when you book a flight with them but it seems to have disappeared since the website revamp.  The wording used to be:

“Please note: If payment has been made using frequent flyer points, airmiles, loyalty card points or the like, settlement of your claim will be based upon the lowest available published flight fare for the flight originally booked if they are non-transferable.”

This always seemed remarkably generous in some ways.   Whilst Virgin wouldn’t sell you this policy without a Virgin flight booking, which limits their liability somewhat, imagine booking an Upper Class ticket for Flying Club points, being forced to cancel and then claiming back the cash cost based on the ‘lowest published fare’.

If you have any experience of claiming for ‘lost’ frequent flyer miles from travel insurance, or know of any other insurance policies which cover them, please comment below.

Bits: Qatar Airways confirms Dublin launch, Plaza Premium confirms T5 lounge, HFP party
Bits: Nicole Sherzinger joins BA's New Orleans eBay flights, PartnerPlusBenefit quintuple points!
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. It isn’t just the 24 hours before your flight. Travel insurance would cover you if you needed to fly home at a different time or had a medical issue whilst abroad.

  2. Insurance isn’t just about your initial flight. I am surprised why people would even ask.

    • It’s a valid question.

      If my annual policy has lapsed, I usual take out insurance as soon as I book anything.

      But I’m planning a trip next June. So far, the only thing I have booked is a redemption flight. Until I actually book anything that is non refundable, there is no point taking out insurance. If all the hotel bookings that I make are refundable, then I’ll leave insurance to the last minute.

      • It comes into use when you have a complicated itinerary with long stopovers using Avios. To offer a simple example if you was to book as follows maybe to get a first segment on before a voucher expires

        01JAN MAN-LHR
        10APR LHR-MIA
        20APR MIA-LHR

        Then once the first segment is flown the remaining flights become non refundable and non changeable therefore making an insurance covering frequent flyer points a must.

        Tesco travel insurance also offers cover for miles used on redemption flights although they don’t offer any refund but will rebook identical flights for you within three months of your original flights.

        • That’s useful to know about tesco.,imagine you had an F BA 241 to HKG return, would they really book an equivalent F seat for you within 3 mths. That would be super amazing.

          Injuries CAN happen within the 24 hr window, unfortunately. My OH did his back in the morning we were flying BA F using our 241 to HKG that night. He ended up sitting almost forward the whole flight. Wheelchaired around the Bali resort for 3/52 by tiny me! Pool helped tho. Now he is banned from playing sports within 48 hrs of any LH departure. Just in case!
          Would our Plat insurance refund the cost of our miles, l wonder, then we could re purchase them in a sale or whatever?

          • My OH managed to crack his ribs at work and we were just saying that the silver lining is that we weren’t flying out to Singapore for precisely the same reason. I think your ban is well-justified !

          • On our trip to Canada last year we almost missed our flights.
            Because we were flying in the afternoon we decided to drive down (about 100 miles) rather than stay the night. There had been a big pile up on the M40 and we had to leave when we were warned on the matrix signs. We were delayed in leaving when our niece came round for a shower just as we were leaving (her bathroom was being refurbished). If we had left at the planned time we could have been stuck between junctions for hours or even been involved in the accident.
            This is why I cannot understand the purpose of checking in online when not at the airport.

  3. Are Avios bookings from IberiaPlus refundable? ISTR that they aren’t – in which case one might want to insure those bookings.

  4. I think that travel insurance is an area where we could usefully share experiences. I have only travelled on holiday a couple of times a year and have been fortunate to have never had to claim. I always wonder how I would claim if one or both of our cases went missing. Should me make a list of the contents before we leave home? I cannot believe that many people do this. Also our clothes have been accumulated over many years, often on holiday in Italy or Canada and I never keep receipts. Do the insurance company accept an estimate? Has anyone had to do this?

    • Might be useful to pay by card, from now on when clothes shopping, even abroad. As when our cases were destroyed by rain, left out in rain on Tarmac in LGW one time, the insurance accepted our bank receipts for shopping ie Topshop, River Island, Laura Ashley etc. They just deducted 10% for every year of age from the date. Got quite a lot back from them, enough to replace the detroyed clothing.

      • Thanks Polly. As you would expect I do pay for everything by card but often not in an exclusively cloths shop e.g, John Lewis, TK Maxx.

        • Oh No!!
          I mis-wrote( as Hillary would say) ‘cloths’ instead of ‘clothes’..
          This was completely accidental and I deeply apologise.

        • Although if you bought in John Lewis, and swiped your loyalty card, a copy of all your receipts are stored in your digital wallet.

    • I have scans of my personal receipts going back 20 years. I realize I was an exception back then, but these days, scanners as part of a printer are cheap starting at £30. £50 gets you a stand-alone printer-scanner combination that lets you insert a memory card. Just scan receipts when you are next to the scanner, let the scanner store the scan on the card and very occasionally file the card and swap with an empty one. No need to look at the scans or organize them until you have to claim. Total effort a few seconds per receipt.

      If you aren’t concerned about privacy issues, you can pay a little more and get a cloud connected scanner. Scan straight to the internet and gives you access to all receipts even while you are traveling.

  5. I would certainly appreciate an article on travel insurance

  6. For anyone thinking of using Avios travel insurance… I was planning to use them for a F trip to NYC last summer but they told me that, although they do cover Avios bookings, this is only for bookings via Avios.com and not BAEC.

  7. I used Columbus Direct. I just hoped they would cover things if anything happened.

  8. I am in that trap….I might pay for not reading the T&C’s fully. I thought my hotel booking will be automatically covered by Amex platinum travel insurance as I used the card to book it-I paid for the redemption flights with a virgin black as I was going to earn more FC miles with that. Unfortunately I had to cancel the trip, The flight part is ok BUT Amex have said for me to claim for the hotel booking the whole holiday needs to have been paid on the card.
    Thanks, Rob, I think this is an important topic. I may have been stung by the rules….

    • Have you gone back to Amex with the terms I quoted yesterday?

      • Thanks for that quote yesterday. It was interesting to see that the limited travel insurance from using an Amex card included those issued by other banks and that it also applies when the card is used to pay the charges on a points redemption.

      • Waiting for medical certificate from GP then I will go back to them once I have it.

        Thanks for the quote….even a slim chance is better than nothing. She made it sound like it’s set in stone.

        Normally we have separate travel insurance but this time stuck to Amex…..then this happens. Never claimed before

  9. Amex travel insurance. I had an ex-EU with a very long stopover to start off with (~6 months), so points were at risk.

    The insurance immediately refunded all taxes (including the initial ex-EU bit which I thought was generous). I then attempted to put a value on the flights by claiming the cheapest economy fare (~£600, and I was being generous here as I was flying J). The insurers rejected this. They said they needed a monetary value of the avios lost, from BA. BA very helpfully provided a statement that said if I were to purchase 150k avios, it would cost £xxxx (several thousand I seem to remember as they calculated it as multimolw purchases of the maximum avios). The insurers then promptly paid this ludicrous amount.

    • Fantastic result – that’s an excellent way to treat things, although in some ways also fair as to put yourself back in the same situation you would potentially have to purchase those points – surprised they didn’t just want to refund the cheaper of either repurchasing points or the same class of flight though.

  10. Re claiming back Avios, we have got a Lloyds Platinum current account (£17 per month). The travel insurance part will refund your Avios as Lloyds are an Avios partner, but I am sure that they would expect you to cancel for a refund where possible. It also covers up to age 80 rather than the more usual 70 and covers many existing conditions.
    Other packaged bank accounts are available

    • 70+ is why we’ve been with Lloyds for years, and it has paid off for many travel related claims over the years, nothing serious thank goodness but an excellent claims department. A multi segment ,long haul holiday in 2014 had to be cancelled at the last minute due to my wife becoming seriously ill.
      Luckily on AF/KL redemption tickets, KL replaced the 550,000 miles and taxes, but not the €45 per ticket cancellationsales. What with booked accommodation, car rentals etc., the claim wasn’t massive, but the few hundred £’s, was very welcome, (after I had to explain how the KL FFP worked etc.!)
      We’re lucky to be off again in February, for the best part of three months, AUS, NZ and I always ensure that I call Lloyds with our ‘Doctor History ‘ for the past year to make sure they know everything….. not that much has gone on with us…flu jabs, diabetic blood tests, and a couple of bits and pieces….to us, this is critical that the insurance company are in the know.

      • Steve Blower says:

        just flew past 66 here, and aware that soonish I am going to need a different approach to travel insurance.
        Just checked, but Lloyds Bank are saying they no longer provide travel insurance.
        Which Lloyds do you mean?

  11. I am of the viewpoint that everyone needs travel insurance for every trip… handy if something gets lost/stolen but more important than anything is the medical cover, i recommend something with a good 10mill+. Medical bills everywhere in the world are insanely high and most people in this country don’t realise that…. anyone could get into an accident and for 40ish quid a year there are few things that are as good value for money…

    • Including domestic travel.

    • I don’t think anyone’s doubting the need for medical cover, just whether it’s necessary to insure airmiles – which are, pretty much by definition, a thing you can afford to lose.

      • Hmnn…I’d imagine that would depend on how the points were obtained. If some points were purchased then one wouldn’t be too pleased if they were lost by enforced cancellation..

        • I’m not saying you’d be happy about it, but fundamentally the worst that can happen is that you’ve paid for a holiday and don’t get to go on it. Choosing not to insure against that could be a rational decision, in a way that travelling without medical insurance just can’t.

          • I think it’s horses for courses when it comes to insurance cover and if/if not you think it worthwhile. If partner and I put 600,000 avios towards return flights to SIN from LHR then I’d be expecting to take those flights. Our medical insurance is covered by other credit cards. It’s a personal choice though so I take your point Richard.

  12. Harkirat says:

    We had booked LHR-DEL using Virgin airmiles for the four of us in PE. While out in Delhi, mum fell ill and we had to come back home early. Virgin were very good – they cancelled the return leg and refunded the 140,000 airmiles and then booked 2 Upper Class seats that were available on airmiles using the 100,000 from 140,000 refunded, We then just bought two single PE cash on the same flight. My travel insurance – as part of my Barclays account – refunded cash price we paid for the return tickets, plus our non cancellable hotels and flights to GOA. And I got to keep the 40,000 airmiles left over.

  13. Sam Wardill says:

    Travel insurance can cover the cost of rebooking in the event of separate bookings where the first sector is delayed. Arguably, under standard airline Conditions of Carriage, the onward airline should rebook at no cost in these circumstances but, in my recent experience, they do not. I’m still fighting this one but may end up claiming on insurance.

  14. Travelled in March to Abu Dhabi/Dubai (from Canada/US on Etihad) all on miles (5 of us in combination of F and J). Wife fell ill on the day of the return. Went to the hospital, etc… etc… In the end, she made the flight.

    I called Amex insurance to ask what would have happened if we had to cancel the return segment and return on another day. Amex said they would have rebooked us in Economy…not in the class of service that was originally booked with miles.

    They would refund charges related to the cancellation…but not refund any points. So any miles used would have been “gone” (because Etihad doesn’t refund partial segments – to my knowledge). Ouch.

    Similar issue with Air Canada…unfortunately, have to cancel a Christmas booking using miles. AC have a draconian policy;
    1. Cancel before 22 days, they can refund your miles for a crazy $150 / GBP 90 plsu taxes of 13% per ticket (!). You cannot cancel (ie refund) within 22 days…you can only change as per below

    2. Change your ticket upto 2 hours before: they charge C$100 / GBP 60 (plus 13% tax) per direction!
    They will not refund your miles…you have to use them (albeit to any destination…not just the original).

    Will have to claim on this…no idea how the insurance company will handle these.

  15. I just done an Avios booking on ba.com and was surprised (as in don’t think I’ve seen it before) to be offered insurance. Don’t need it as Amex covers my needs so didn’t look any further.

    Virgin Trains East Coast has been promoting a cancellation insurance policy for many months now when you book tickets direct with them. The cost is low, but the reasons to get it to pay out are so small it’s almost worthless!