What Travel Insurance Covers When Planes Are Grounded

Your travel insurance might help with some costs if your trip was delayed because of the recent grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes.

Question: Can people whose flights were canceled when Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded get a claim paid from their travel insurance?

Answer: Travel insurance likely will not cover cancellations specifically due to the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes. The airlines would have had to say that those specific flights were grounded due to mechanical failure, says Steven Benna of Squaremouth.com, which lets you compare travel insurance policies from 22 providers. (After an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff earlier this month—the second Boeing 737 Max plane to crash in five months—countries around the world grounded the jets.)

However, your insurer may pay a travel insurance claim if the grounding causes other problems. For example, if you have a flight delay that exceeds six hours, a travel-delay benefit could provide coverage for meals and accommodations you paid for during the delay, says Benna.

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If you missed more than 50% of your trip due to the grounding, your travel insurer may pay trip cancellation or trip interruption benefits, says Julie Loffredi of InsureMyTrip.com, which offers a comparison of travel insurance policies from 26 providers.

Also, some policies have “trip cancellation for any reason” benefits, which let you cancel your trip out of fear—or for any reason—and may reimburse you for a percentage of your prepaid, nonrefundable trip cost, says Loffredi. These “cancel for any reason” benefits usually cost about 25% more than standard travel insurance, she says. InsureMyTrip’s Anytime Advocates can help people determine whether their policies provide any coverage for this situation and can help them file a claim.

For more information about travel insurance, see Disaster-Proof Your Vacation With Trip Insurance.

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.