Travel insurance can reimburse travelers whose itineraries are unexpectedly changed by the airlines. Depending on the policy, delays and cancellations caused by weather, labor strikes or mechanical breakdown can be covered. United Airlines has voluntarily grounded almost 100 planes for maintenance issues and many travelers will experience delayed or cancelled flights as a result. The following is an excerpt from an MSNBC article on United Airlines’ decision to ground planes.
United Continental Holdings says some 96 United Airlines aircraft have been temporarily grounded voluntarily while the carrier performs maintenance checks that were not completed.
Tuesday’s grounding has caused at least 17 flights to be canceled and an unspecified number of delays. The maintenance checks take 60 to 90 minutes.
The issue could affect United’s schedule into Wednesday.
When planes are grounded for mechanical issues, multiple travel insurance coverage can apply.
Travel delay coverage reimburses travelers for food, hotels and taxis during a delay. Coverage is normally available for any common carrier delay, such as a grounded plane, but the delay must last a predetermined number of hours. The required delay time can be as little as 5 hours or as much as 24 hours.
If a traveler is unable to make a scheduled trip departure because of a common carrier delay, missed connection coverage can reimburse the additional costs to catch up to the trip. This coverage benefit also requires a delay last for a set time before coverage is available, normally between 3 and 6 hours.
Trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage can also be available in this situation. Trip cancellation allows the entire trip to be cancelled and will reimburse the traveler for all expenses not refunded by travel suppliers. Trip interruption is similar, but covers once the trip has already started, whether a delayed departure, missed time during the trip or an early return home. Interruption is normally a pro-rated reimbursement for the unused vacation expenses. Both coverage benefits are only available if one of the covered reasons in the policy occurs to the traveler. Many policies cover a common carrier delay from mechanical breakdown, but only if the delay lasts for 12, 24 or 48 hours.