What is delay and abandonment?
Travel delay policies apply when you get to the airport on time, but your flight has been delayed. It also usually covers other forms of transport like ferries.
Some policies cover travel delay for any reason, but others list specific reasons like:
- strike and industrial action
- poor weather conditions
- mechanical breakdown of public transport
You might pay extra for your policy to include add-ons that cover other causes of delay like volcanic ash clouds and hurricanes.
Most policies give you a set payment for a delay over a certain time, like £50 for every hour over 12 hours.
If the delay is long enough, you may be able to abandon your holiday and make a cancellation claim.
What is abandonment?
Most travel insurance policies allow you to abandon your holiday if you’ve been delayed a certain amount of time – usually 24 hours – on your outward journey.
Some policies also cover abandonment of part of a trip when there is a delay of a certain length on a connecting flight. The insurer will pay for the cost of the abandoned trip or the abandoned part of the trip.
Travel delay is usually a fixed benefit – so your insurer will pay out a fixed amount for each hour of delay over a certain period of time. Any extra costs you’ve had, like buying extra food, aren’t usually covered.
Types of complaints we see
Customers complain to us that they’re out of pocket because they:
- had a fight which was cancelled and isn’t covered by their policy
- missed their connecting flight which their insurer says isn’t covered
- paid for food or accommodation costs which aren’t covered by their policy
- arranged another flight which the insurance company won’t cover
- abandoned their holiday before the end of the 24-hour period which the insurance company won’t cover
- lost holiday time that isn’t covered by their policy
What we look at
We’ll check the policy wording to make sure the cause of the delay is covered. You’ll usually need to give us evidence of the cause and length of the delay.
We know it can be difficult to get information about the cause and length of a delay from an airline.
We’d usually expect you to make a reasonable effort to get some sort of written confirmation from the airline to support their claim. If you can’t, we might accept news reports of cancelled and delayed flights as evidence in support of your claim.
Insurers sometimes say a claim isn’t covered because a flight was cancelled and not delayed. Our view is that the impact on you is the same whether the flight was delayed or cancelled.
Airlines have their own responsibilities to passengers where a flight has been delayed or cancelled.
Often an airline will arrange a replacement flight within 24 hours. We’ll look at what the airline offered and the reasons why you abandoned your trip if that’s what happened.
Your policy may say that only the first leg of the outbound journey leaving the UK or the first leg of the return journey is covered. This means that if you have a multi-leg trip or connecting flight, you won’t be able to claim for problems with the other parts of your journey.
If your policy has this restriction, it should have been highlighted to you. If your insurer hasn’t clearly highlighted this restriction, we might not think it’s fair for your insurer to rely on the exclusion.
If your flight has been delayed for a day, and you decide to check into an airport hotel and wait, the cost of this isn’t usually covered. You’ll just get the fixed benefit under the insurance claim.
If an airline has paid you for your costs or compensation under the cancelled flights directive we don’t think it’s fair if your insurer reduces any fixed benefit payment under your travel insurance policy.
If you’ve made alternative arrangements
Travel delay usually pays a fixed benefit, rather than what it costs to reach your destination. This benefit is usually covered under the missed departure section, which only applies when you – and not your flight – is late.
In some cases, we might think it’s fair for your insurer to pay the travel delay or abandonment benefit you might have been entitled to if you hadn’t made your own arrangements.
If you abandon your trip before the set delay period has passed
We’ll consider the individual circumstances of each case. If we’re satisfied that there was no other way for you to continue your holiday for at least 24 hours, then we might think it makes no difference that you abandoned your trip early. We may ask the insurer to pay your claim.
Lost time on holiday
Sometimes you could have made an abandonment claim – but instead you waited for your flight. By doing this, you’ve lost a day or more of your holiday.
We might think it would be fair for your insurer to consider covering any unused or additional costs up to the value of any abandonment claim. For example, if you’ve lost a night in a hotel, we might say the insurer should cover that loss.
How to complain
Talk to your insurer first. They need to have the chance to put things right. They have to give you their final response within eight weeks for most types of complaint.
If you’re unhappy with their response, or if they don’t respond, let us know. We’ll check your complaint is something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate to understand what happened and what went wrong.
Find out more about how to complain.
Putting things right
If we feel your insurance company has turned down a claim unfairly, we’ll do what we can to put things right.
Find out more about how we put things right for customers who’ve made a complaint about their travel insurance claim.