Travel hacks could leave you stranded if you don’t have the right insurance

24 July 2019

More than half of all travel insurance policies on the market do not include cover for missed connections overseas as standard

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While travel hacks such as ‘skip-lagging’ or using flight comparison sites could help you get a better deal, they could cost you dearly if you don’t have the right travel insurance.

More than half of all travel insurance policies on the market do not include cover for missed connections overseas as standard, according to new research from Defaqto.

This means that if you use a comparison site to travel with more than one airline or a travel hack such as split-ticketing or skip-lagging, you could end up being out of pocket if your flight is delayed.

Travel hacks

Airline travel hacks can help holidaymakers save thousands when travelling, but while they can reduce the cost of travel they can leave holidaymakers at risk if something goes wrong. Here are some example hacks:

  • Split-ticketing – this where you split your journey into two parts with one or more airline, as the individual single tickets are cheaper together than buying the whole journey as one fare.
  • Skip-lagging - a controversial hack where you get a cheaper ticket by booking a flight that stops in the place you actually want to go and get off there.
  • Flight comparison sites – using a site like Skyscanner and Kayak, which search the market to show you options to combine flights with different airlines, sometimes with one airline for the outbound flight and another on the return.

The problem arises if you book travel with separate providers for part of a journey. For example, if you book a flight with one airline to a European or Middle-East hub, and then an onward flight with a separate airline. 

If your first flight is delayed and you arrive too late to catch the next part of your journey, the second airline is unlikely to want to help you which means you could be left stranded without any compensation.

Brian Brown, head of insight at Defaqto, says: “The problem doesn’t arise if all of your travel legs are with the same provider because they will have to sort out alternative travel and temporary accommodation. 

“Similarly, if you book your travel as a package with a single provider, like a travel agent or Expedia.com, you will have ATOL protection to ensure they sort out your problems.

"It really is an issue with independent travellers who book their own travel, and mix and match flights to get the cheapest deals.”

Travel insurance

Travel insurance can cover some or all of the additional costs that arise as a result of a missed connection, such as extra flight costs and accommodation under the ‘missed connections’ part of a policy.

However, according to Defaqto over half of  insurance policies don’t include this cover.

Its research found that only 384 out of 1,129 annual and 354 out of 1,129 single trip policies include this cover as standard.

Travel insurance policies and missed connection cover

  Annual multi-trip Single trip
Travel insurance policies Missed connection international Missed connection international
No Cover 525 523
Optional Cover 248 252
Standard Cover 384 354
Total 1,157 1,129

Source: Defaqto 2019

Holidaymakers who book their flights independently and miss the start of their cruise, safari or tour because of a delayed flight, could also lose out if they don’t have the right insurance cover.

Defaqto recommends those who are booking holidays with overseas connections to check their insurance covers them.

Mr Brown adds: “The trouble with this type of travel is that there is no protection if anything goes wrong. You have to be your own travel agent and that means making sure you have a contingency plan in case something goes wrong.

“If you are making a connection overseas, more than half of all the insurance policies on the market will not include cover should you miss your connection.

"There are still plenty of providers that do include this cover and so check your policy to make sure yours does. This may be the least exciting 10 minutes of your holiday but it could be the most important if anything goes wrong.”

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