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Are Refundable Airline Tickets or Flight Insurance Better for You?

Becky Hart | Nov 29, 2023

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Passport and airline ticket.

You're about to purchase a flight, and the website asks, “Would you like to upgrade to a refundable ticket for an additional fee?” It seems like a good idea if you need to cancel your flight, but is it the best decision for you and your trip?

Paying extra for a refundable ticket isn’t necessarily a wrong choice, but it might leave you wanting more. At this point in the purchase of your tickets, many airlines may try to grab you with a sense of urgency and tempt you with convenience. Of course it depends on your situation, but rushing to a decision without knowing the facts of what you’re getting from the airline, and what kind of coverage you could get from travel insurance could lead to a case of buyer’s remorse.

What’s the Difference Between Travel Insurance and a Refundable Airline Ticket?

Adventure awaits pinContrary to popular belief, the refundable ticket you buy from the airline is not identical to what you would get if you purchased travel insurance. As an example, here are some major differences between Seven Corners Trip Protection plans and the airline’s refundable ticket.

Broader coverage with travel insurance

The refundable ticket you purchase from the airline typically provides reimbursement for the ticket itself, and most airlines will let you cancel your flight for any reason as long as you purchased the refundable ticket (which is often a more expensive option).

Your refundable airline ticket is just that, though — a ticket. Travel insurance through a provider like Seven Corners also protects you if you must cancel your trip for certain, covered reasons, and that protection may cover more than just a flight. For example, if your flight is cancelled and you can’t catch another flight until the next day, you could potentially lose money on a pre-paid, nonrefundable vacation rental or excursion at your destination. Whereas your airline’s refundable ticket typically wouldn’t cover those prepaid, nonrefundable trip expenses, travel insurance could.

Optional Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage

Most trip insurance covers you for trip cancellation with a list of covered reasons, such as a sickness that keeps you from traveling or inclement weather that causes the airline to shut down for at least 48 hours. Trip Protection plans come with an optional benefit — Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR).

This add-on benefit reimburses you for 75% of your nonrefundable trip cost if you need to cancel your trip, no matter what the reason is. At a time with so much unpredictability, many travelers find CFAR provides them with extra flexibility and confidence when planning their trips. They know that with CFAR, they won’t lose all of their pre-paid, non-refundable investment if they need to cancel unexpectedly for reasons such as fear of travel or simply changing their mind about taking their trip, two reasons that most likely would not otherwise be covered. And again, CFAR can protect your airfare as well as hotels, excursions, and more.

Customizable options

Seven Corners offers a variety of plans to help find your best match, often with the ability to customize your plan.

With our plans, you can also look for optional add-ons to give you more robust coverage based on your needs. You might choose to add the Optional Rental Car Damage benefit to a Trip Protection plan. If you select our Get Away USA plan, you can design your own plan by adding bundles for air travel, medical expense coverage, and more.

Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expense Coverage

Travel insurance can provide emergency medical expense coverage if you get sick or injured during your trip. This can be particularly important when traveling internationally as your domestic health insurance does not always cover you overseas. This coverage is not typically found with a refundable airline ticket.

Personal service

Like when we talked about how to buy the best insurance for your cruise, you may want to rely on experts in travel insurance when you have questions about protecting your flight expenses. Airlines do many things well, but they’re in the business of flying. Seven Corners is an expert in travel insurance.

It’s also important to know that all Seven Corners plans come with non-insurance 24/7 emergency travel assistance services. If you need help finding medical care during your trip or need translation services while abroad, Seven Corners Assist is there to help. Our personal service guarantee is with you from the moment you start talking with one of our licensed agents all the way until you return home.

When Should You Buy Travel Insurance for Flights?

Boarding pass.As you can see, there are advantages to purchasing travel insurance for flights, sometimes known as flight insurance. There are instances, however, when a refundable ticket from the airline could be better for your situation.

For example, you might only be interested in protecting your airfare. Perhaps you’ll be staying with family and don’t have any expenses for accommodations or a rental car. If you don’t have any other travel expenses to protect, the refundable ticket, which provides 100% reimbursement when you meet the airline’s policy requirements, could be the better choice.

One final thought: It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing purchase. As much as we’d love to protect all of your travel arrangements, you could opt to purchase from both Seven Corners and your airline. One of our own employees recently did just that for a major vacation. The airline’s refundable ticket made more sense for her needs, but she also purchased trip protection for other aspects of her trip like her hotels, excursions, and a train ride at her destination.

Learn how to calculate trip costs for travel insurance »

Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

It’s best to expect the unexpected, and when we travel, that means expecting that some of your best-laid plans might not work out. Flight cancellations and delays, especially when you’re traveling during busy times of year like the holidays and summer vacation, can happen. When you’re worried about these disruptions and how they’ll impact your money, carefully consider how to best protect your trip and the money you spent on it.

Every traveler and every trip is unique. That’s why it’s best to look at the different options for travel insurance and choose the one that best fits your needs. We understand that sometimes that decision isn’t the most obvious, which is why Seven Corners’ sales team is made up entirely of licensed agents, ready to answer your questions and help you choose the right plan. Get a quick quote online or talk to our licensed experts today.

*Terms, conditions and limitations apply to all benefits mentioned above. Any Optional benefit, such as CFAR, comes at an additional cost. CFAR is not available to residents of NY. Please see your plan document for full details.


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