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Do you need travel insurance to cover your redemption ticket?

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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.

Comments (42)

  • BA says:

    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.

    • Alan says:

      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.

  • mark2 says:

    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

    • Mikeact says:

      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?

  • Ro says:

    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…

    • Fenny says:

      Including domestic travel.

    • Richard says:

      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.

      • Cate says:

        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..

        • Richard says:

          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.

          • Cate says:

            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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sanjay says:

    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.

  • 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!