Is United Airlines Travel Insurance Worth It?

Today most people think about travel insurance after the last 2 years we had. With millions of trips canceled either due to travel restrictions, illness, or job loss, it’s no wonder most people want some type of protection today before they travel and most travel companies are providing it.

But at what cost?

Airlines in particular have jumped on the travel insurance bandwagon quickly. You’d be hard-pressed to find an airline that doesn’t push travel insurance at checkout, United Airlines included. They try to lure you into the program, saying how cheap it is and how much it can save you should the worst happen.

So is United Airlines travel insurance worth it? Find out in our review below.

What is United Airlines Travel Insurance?

Like most travel insurance policies, United Airlines travel insurance provides protection should you need to cancel or delay your trip. Of course, claims are only approved for certain reasons, most of which you likely wouldn’t experience except in extreme circumstances.

It’s not a policy you can use if you change your mind about traveling or if your babysitter suddenly backed out. It’s a policy that covers major issues, like life-threatening illness, injuries, job termination, or you’re called to military duty.

United Airlines specifically states in their insurance documents that the policy is for unforeseen circumstances, which is usually why we buy insurance, but it’s important to understand their definition of unforeseen circumstances.

Common Reasons for Covered Cancellation or Trip Interruption

United Airlines Travel Insurance offers coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption. Here are the most common claims they cover.

Trip Cancellation

If you or a traveling companion have any of the following, you can file a claim:

  • Become ill or injured and cannot travel
  • Are hijacked or quarantine
  • Are subpoenaed for jury duty
  • Are called for military duty
  • Are laid off from a job you’ve had for at least 1 year and you had the insurance policy for at least 30 days
  • Are transferred to a different work location that’s over 100 miles away from your home
  • Your home is damaged due to natural disasters, vandalism, or theft
  • Are delayed due to a traffic accident on the way to the airport
  • Airline goes on strike
  • Bad weather causing your trip to be canceled

Trip Interruption

The trip interruption has similar covered claims for you and your traveling companions including:

  • Sickness or injury
  • Hijacked or quarantined
  • Called for jury duty
  • Called the military
  • A natural disaster, burglary, or vandalism makes your home inhabitable
  • A car accident causes you to miss your flight
  • You will be attending childbirth of an immediate family member 
  • The airline goes on strike
  • Bad weather causes trip cancellation or interruption

Reasons Coverage is Denied

Like any insurance policy, there are exclusions to the coverage including the following.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Exclusions

  • Attempted suicide or self-harm
  • You or your travel partners are traveling for medical treatment
  • Normal childbirth (not an unexpected birth)
  • Mental health issues (unless requires an overnight hospital stay)
  • Pre-existing medical conditions

Any approved reasons for a claim must be substantiated with proper documentation. If it’s a medical issue, for example, you’ll need a doctor’s note. If it’s an issue with your employer or the government, you’ll need documentation from the appropriate party.

What is United Airlines Travel Insurance Missing?

As we explore if United Airlines Travel Insurance is worth it, we must talk about what it’s missing compared to other travel insurance plans. If you did a quick Google search, you’d likely find hundreds of options, each of which has different coverages. But here are the most important things United Airlines Travel Insurance is missing.

Travel Health Insurance

Did you know your health insurance might not cover you if you fall ill somewhere outside of your home state? Read the fine print on your policy and you’ll see that you likely aren’t covered and if you are, it’s at out-of-network costs.

United Airlines Travel Insurance doesn’t include travel health insurance or coverage to protect you should the worst happen while you’re traveling. This is probably the largest issue with the policy as it’s the main reason many people secure the coverage.

Medical Transportation Insurance

What happens if you fall ill while you are away but you are nowhere near a medical facility? You might need an ambulance or helicopter to take you to where you need to go which costs a lot of money. Medical transportation insurance isn’t included in the United plan, but likely should be.

Vacation Cancellation Insurance

Your employer has the right to cancel your vacation. It’s not fun, but it happens. Whether someone else called off or there is some other issue at the workplace, you might suddenly find that you can’t take the vacation days you thought you could.

United Travel Insurance doesn’t offer this type of coverage. If you lose your vacation days you either take the trip and take no pay or you lose the money you paid for the trip – there’s no insurance coverage for it with United.

Is United Travel Insurance Affordable?

Many people want to know if United Travel Insurance is affordable. 

At first glance, it might seem that way. Its premiums are low (under $100 in some cases), but you have to look at what you get for that premium. When you look at the coverage you get (and don’t get), you’ll see that the premium is high for what you get. 

If there were more coverage options and the insurance could be used in most circumstances rather than just dire circumstances, it might seem more affordable.

Is United Airlines Travel Insurance Ever Helpful?

That being said, there is a time and place for United Airlines Travel Insurance. If you’re just looking for a policy for the worst-case scenario, then this is it. You get the coverage you need should something completely unexpected happen.

But you don’t get coverage for the everyday issues most people deal with and would expect a travel policy to cover.

Should you take your chances on it?

Only if you lose sleep at night wondering if you’ll be drafted into the military before your trip or you’ll get in a car accident on the way to the airport. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth it.

FAQs – Is United Airlines Travel Insurance Worth It?

Can you get refunded if you change your mind about United Airlines travel insurance?

You have up to 15 days after you purchase United Airlines travel insurance to change your mind and get a 100% refund. Make sure in that time you read the fine print and truly decide if travel insurance is worth the cost. Remember, you pay the premium per traveler, so the costs add up.

Does United Travel Insurance cover trip delays?

If your flight is delayed, your United Travel Insurance may cover costs you incur because of it. The flight must be delayed or canceled for more than 5 hours to count. The trip delay includes airline delays as well as certain events that could happen to you such as an accident on the way to the airport or falling ill and having to put off your travels. You’ll need adequate proof of the event to make a claim.

Is there a missed connection coverage?

If you have a connecting flight and miss the connection due to a common carrier issue or bad weather, you can file a claim. The insurance might cover the penalties you incur for missing your flight and any costs to complete your travels.

There’s a fine print, though. If the connecting flight is within 1 hour of your arriving flight for domestic travels or 2 hours for international, the missed connection coverage doesn’t apply.

Is there baggage coverage?

Yes, United Travel Insurance covers baggage for $500 for the first bag and $250 for each additional bag. Any valuables you claim over $150, though will require receipt proof when you file a claim. The baggage coverage protects you should your baggage be lost, stolen, or damaged.

Final Thoughts – Should you Consider United Airlines Travel Insurance?

It can be a good idea to consider travel insurance when you’re scheduling a flight, especially if it’s a costly flight or you’re traveling in a large group, but buying it directly from the airlines, like United often, isn’t worth it.

The coverage is minimal, only works for very extreme circumstances, and is often hard to get claims approved. It’s best to shop around and look at your other options including any travel insurance you might already have on your credit cards. Read the fine print on everything and make sure the insurance you buy (if any) makes financial sense.

Kim Pinnelli is a personal finance freelance writer and contributor. She lives in the Chicago suburbs, writing from home for the last 13 years. Kim enjoys helping people understand personal finances and writes on topics about saving money, investing, planning for retirement, and ways to increase income. In her free time, Kim enjoys hanging out with her 3 children, reading, crocheting, and spending time outdoors.

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