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People have told me several times that I should just buy "insurance" to secure flights with layovers from different airlines, so I don't have to be terrified my whole holiday that I will get stranded if a flight is delayed. (I am an anxious traveler and tend to worry about things like this.)

But who do I buy this insurance from? Since each leg is a separate purchase, checking "yes" on their insurance option wouldn't do anything about missing my connection, right? Are there separate insurance companies for this?

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    Information only: I missed a QANTAS Sydney-Brisbane flight due to a long delay from China by another airline. I turned up at the ticket counter in Sydney a day late. They were apologetic but said that I had no legal claim to a free replacement. I smiled and said something like "Oh yes. I realise that. BUT I know that QANTAS are a fantastic airline, and I travel with them often (which was true), and QANTAS have received my money for a paid flight, and I'm sure that you will be able to work something out. They looked surprised. The went away and conferred and came back with a free ticket. Really Jan 7 at 11:06
  • @RussellMcMahon: that is certainly a good strategy and will work on occasions but this is entirely in the discretion of agents and which is very hard to predict
    – Hilmar
    Jan 7 at 19:07
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    @RussellMcMahon Unfortunately the OP is considering flying Ryanair, who are proud of their poor service.
    – thelem
    Jan 7 at 21:33
  • @thelem I missed the Ryanair part. || JohnBig CONSIDER flying Ryanair if there is absolutely no other choice. Also consider cycling, walking or swimming. To be fair (more or less) Ryanair work when they work, and if you arrive as intended the price has usually been reasonably good for the service that you received. || But, more seriously - Ryanair provides bad service purposefully as part of their cultivated image. Other airlines MAY be as bad, but they try not to let people know about it. I would NEVER depend on Ryanair. Your mileage may vary - and may not :-(. Jan 8 at 0:03
  • Consider, as an alternative, leaving MUCH more room between your connections. Or, if you worry and stress that much and it's going to ruin your holiday, spend a few extra bucks on the tickets to get flights from A to B on one booking, then it's the airline's responsibility to get you there and you don't have to be worried at all. You may be annoyed about arriving late, but you know you'll get there.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 8 at 13:49

3 Answers 3

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Tricky.

The insurance term that you are looking for is called "Missed Connection". See here or here. It's not a particularly well advertised feature, so you will have to dive into the fine print.

I did look up a few policies and some do indeed include coverage for missed connections. It's typically limited to a certain amount ($500 seems common) and often restricted to "tours and cruises". What I saw was certainly NOT cheap, but you should get a quote with your specific details.

As typically with travel insurance, "missed connection" coverage comes with a lot of exclusions, including "self connections", and the policy documents are often dozens of pages long written in hard to understand "weasel language". It's a good idea to read it carefully before shelling out.

People have told me several times that I should just buy "insurance"

That feels a bit of a knee jerk reaction and is frequently not based on careful research and thorough risk assessment. The simple fact that every travel provider tries to sell you insurance at check out is a clear indicator that it's great deal for them and a bad deal for you.

I'm a frequent traveler and I never use travel insurance. It makes no sense to me financially. Travel insurance that actually has reasonable coverage is fairly expensive and the few cases where I had to deal with an issue would either not be covered anyway or didn't warrant buying insurance for all trips that I do.

layovers from different airlines,

Sorry, but unless you are a fairly experienced traveler who can do a reasonable risk assessment and is comfortable with some risk and making alternative plans, you should NOT be doing this. If you want to go from A to C, buy a ticket that gets from A to C. Yes, that can be more expensive, but it will almost always be less expensive than a self connection going sideways and it buys you "peace of mind". At the very least make sure you have at least 4-5 hours between flights.

CAVEAT: You should NEVER be without insurance for medical emergencies.

That certainly applies to travel as well. The musings above are primarily about trip cost insurance (cancellation, delay, lost baggage, interruptions, missed connections, etc).

Medical insurances is completely orthogonal topic. If you already have primary health insurance and it doesn't cover travel you should definitely look into "medical only" travel insurance. Prices and coverage vary wildly depending on where you are from, where you are going and what your primary health insurance is.

Personally, my primary health insurance coverage makes no distinction between home or travel, so medical travel insurance makes no sense to me. But this is different from case to case.

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    That feels like fairly dangerous advice. Not insuring and losing the value of the holiday is not a big deal. But travel insurance is also medical insurance and now having that can financially ruin you Jan 6 at 20:16
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    Let's not jump to conclusions. "I don't take travel insurance" and "I don't take medical insurance" aren't necessarily the same thing. I also never take cancelation insurance". Jan 6 at 22:08
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    @DJClayworth possibly it's cultural but for me (I'm from the UK) travel insurance is primarily holiday medical insurance, with some nice but ultimately less important possession and loss of holiday related extras. You couldn't buy "holiday medical insurance" because (at least here) it's called travel insurance Jan 6 at 23:08
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    @justhalf In the UK, having medical insurance is pretty rare due to the single payer health system, so inherently having coverage that way is uncommon. Hence in the UK, medical insurance is primarily only needed when traveling, where it is sold as 'travel insurance' Jan 7 at 2:28
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    @André Even if the country provides cheap/free medical care (which often has a lot of hidden cavets for non-residents), medical repatriation and/or non-medical care expenses (if you need to stay an extra month in a country because you aren't fit to travel, but also don't need to be in hospital) can still represent a risk of major financial issues. Jan 7 at 15:06
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Protection for connections is included in some travel insurance policies, so you’ll have to shop around and check the details. Note that some products/services (especially credit cards) come bundled with travel insurance, so you may already have one (which may or may not cover missed connections).

Note that when I say “check the details” I really mean that: policies vary a lot in what they cover or not and in what conditions. Carefully read the fine print.

Note that most policies will not cover missed connections if they are not realistic, including enough buffer. The definition of “enough” may not or may not be spelled out explicitly.

Make sure the policy does not have any ambiguous (or explicit) language which would not cover self-transfers.

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As far as I know only kiwi does such insurance and only for self transfers bought in their website (maybe there are similar travel agencies doing this). It is not included in their price and you need to hire at an additional cost. Also, their insurance has a lot of exclusions, and if you are covered you will likely still be stranded for a few hours or a day. With the only difference that you will get your money back for the flight missed or the new flight replacing the missed one.

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    Getting my 30 bucks back when I'm stranded in a foreign country is pretty pointless, and a urgent replacement ticket costs several hundred. The aim is to not get stranded. I'm beginning to understand why nobody is doing this. Last minute flights are fairly expensive, and an insurance like this would per definition have to cover some very expensive replacement tickets for some very cheaply bought original tickets.
    – JohnBig
    Jan 6 at 15:10
  • @JohnBig The best way to avoid being stranded is to buy such flights as a single ticket, rather than two separate transactions - the airline is then obliged to get you to the destination even after a missed connection. If the only flights available for a trip are with two non partner airlines, then allow way more time for the connection than usual - overnight is recommended. Also, see the answers to this recent question travel.stackexchange.com/questions/185492/…
    – Peregrine
    Jan 7 at 20:28
  • What is "kiwi" ("Kiwi")? The Czech online travel agency? Something in New Zealand? Or something else? It is a heavily overload term. Jan 7 at 20:32
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    Which one do you think it is? The Czech travel agency.
    – André
    Jan 8 at 0:59

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