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With winter weather upon us and peak holiday travel approaching, folks often want extra protection or travel insurance for their trips.
There’s a new kind of insurance for air travelers to consider. AirCare will pay you (they say sometimes almost instantly) for flight delays, tarmac delays, missed connections, and delayed or lost luggage.
You can only buy coverage for domestic flights, and Florida and Alaska residents are excluded.
The insurance is reasonably priced at $25 per round-trip. I don’t normally recommend paying for insurance with small amounts of coverage, especially since many credit cards offer travel protection.
And as with all insurance, there are restrictions. So let’s see if it’s a good deal.
How Does It Work?
AirCare pays folks for their inconvenience when their flights are delayed or when their luggage is lost, stolen, or late. You’ll get paid in addition to any compensation provided by the airline or other travel insurance (like the kind offered by some credit cards).
For $25 per round-trip, here’s what AirCare will pay you:
- Flight delay of 2 hours or more – $50
- Tarmac delay (sitting on the airplane, on the ground) of 2 hours or more – $1,000
- Missed connection – $250
- Luggage delayed 12 hours or more – $500
- Luggage lost or stolen – $1,000
Bear in mind that tarmac delays are no longer common. That’s because the Department of Transportation now fines airlines for tarmac delays of 3 hours or longer.
AirCare does NOT cover:
- Flights with 2 or more connections, or trips with more than 4 legs total
- Flight cancellations
- International flights
- Medical or accident insurance
So this is really only useful for 1-stop, domestic flights. If you’re traveling outside the US, you’re out of luck!
In many cases, AirCare can transfer the money directly to your bank or PayPal account, even if you’re still traveling. And they say they’ll track your flights in real time, so that if a delay occurs, you don’t even have to file a claim to get your money.
They’ve also got a service called MyAssist, which is like a travel concierge. If you’re delayed and need to re-book, or are stuck overnight and need a place to stay, you can call, email, tweet, or message them on Facebook and they’ll help you.
How Do You Insure a Trip?
Link: Sign-Up for AirCare
To buy coverage for a trip, 1st create an AirCare account.
Note: Alaska and Florida residents are not yet eligible. AirCare determines your state by your credit card billing address.
Once you’ve signed-up, you can buy insurance for your trip by clicking “Purchase Your Plan.” They’ll ask for your departing and arriving airports and dates of travel.
You’ll be given a list of flights for your departure and arrival dates, or you can search by airline and flight number. Choose your flights from the list, or if they’re not there, click “My Flight Isn’t Listed.” You’ll be given the option to manually enter your flight details.
After you’ve chosen your flights, enter your credit card details and submit. AirCare coverage costs $25 per passenger, round-trip.
As with most insurance policies, there are restrictions:
- You must be at least 18 years old to buy a policy
- A maximum of 4 segments per trip are covered (no more than 2 per day)
- Coverage must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance of departure (and you’ll be declined if the airport already has a weather advisory, delays in effect, etc.)
- Connections must not be too tight (varies depending on airport)
What Happens Next?
Link: How AirCare Works
You can download the AirCare app to Android and iOS devices, so that AirCare can stay in touch with you while you’re traveling. They say they’ll advise you of delays, possible missed connections, and offer to assist you (even before you know you need help!).
Hopefully, your travel goes smoothly and you won’t have to file a claim at all. But if you need to, you can do so right from the app. Or you can email, call, tweet, or Facebook message for help.
And sometimes all they’ll need is a picture of your boarding pass or delayed luggage airline claim form. I haven’t tried this myself so I can’t comment on how well it works, but it sounds like a neat idea!
AirCare says they’ll pay you almost instantly (through PayPal or transfer to your bank account) for departure delays, tarmac delays, and missed connections. But folks on FlyerTalk say it’s not as quick as they advertise, and there are some mixed reviews.
That said, this is still fairly new. I’m curious to hear if readers have had recent experiences!
Is This Better Than Credit Card Travel Insurance?
Some credit cards provide travel protection as part of their benefits, provided you pay for the whole trip with the card.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card includes coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, accidental death or dismemberment, delayed or lost luggage, and trip delays. But you’ll have to go through a (possibly lengthy) claims process.
I’d consider AirCare as extra coverage, not a replacement for other insurance. For $25, it could be worth it if you can get some extra cash for being inconvenienced in your travels.
AirCare will pay you even if you’re covered by other policies. However, I’m not sure if other insurance companies will allow you to “double-dip.”
That said, I probably wouldn’t buy AirCare coverage for short, non-stop flights on frequently traveled routes. That’s because you’re not very likely to be delayed more than 2 hours, and won’t misconnect.
But for folks who fly out of airports prone to weather delays (especially in the winter!), or are catching connecting flights to or from cities with infrequent service, AirCare coverage could pay off.
For example, if your flight is delayed more than 2 hours, you’ll get $50. Then if you miss your connection (as often happens with long delays), you’ll get another $250. And if your luggage fails to arrive for more than 12 hours (because bags misconnect, too) you’ll be paid $500.
That’s $800 in compensation for what could be a very common occurrence this time of year. I know it’s happened to me!
If you’re statistically-minded, you can see which airports (and airlines) are prone to delays on this Bureau of Transportation Statistics website. Or check out the most weather-delayed airports in the US.
Keep in mind, AirCare is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. I’m sure they know that overall, they’ll be making money by issuing these policies.
As always, consider your own travel plans and do the math to decide what’s best for you.
AirCare is a new kind of travel insurance that pays you for flight delays, tarmac delays, missed connections, and delayed or lost luggage. It costs $25 per domestic round-trip itinerary, but there are restrictions.
Once you’ve bought insurance, they’ll monitor your flights, offer assistance in the event things go wrong, and sometimes pay you while you’re still traveling so you don’t have to wait.
And you can file claims from their app on your mobile device.
There are mixed reviews of their service. But for $25, some folks might like having the extra coverage for their trip, especially in the winter or during peak travel times.
Please share your AirCare experiences in the comments!