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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I just done an Avios booking on 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!

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