Does your travel insurance cover a grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight?

If you’re planning a flight on a Boeing, you’ll want to know exactly what’s going on, who’s affected and whether your travel insurance covers a cancelled flight. Here’s our quick guide.

What happened?

Following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, Australia's civil aviation safety authority and a number of other countries including the UK and Europe have grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

On Tuesday, CASA aviation safety CEO Shane Carmody said the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in Australia was a precautionary measure.

"This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 Max to and from Australia," he said.

Precautionary or not, a lot of travellers have been left wondering what all this means for their flight plans.

Who’s affected?

There are two airlines that use Boeing 737 planes in Australia - SilkAir and Fiji Airways. Both have made arrangements so that passengers will be flying on different aircraft instead.

Norwegian Airlines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are among the other airlines which operate Boeing 737 planes, so if you’re flying with them, it’s worth double checking what arrangements have been made while the planes are grounded.

But does your travel insurance cover a grounded or cancelled Boeing flight? Here’s what we know about what Boeing’s grounding means for Australian travellers:

Can you make a claim if…

...Your flight is grounded?

If you have a flight booked and your airline has grounded its Boeing MAX 737 planes, there is a good chance you can make a claim on your travel insurance if the grounded flight has cost you money. Here are some tips for working out whether or not you can make a claim:

  • If your flight was significantly delayed which caused you to miss a connecting flight or miss out on a whole night of prepaid accommodation, you can probably make a claim for the cost of that connecting flight or hotel room.
  • If you are rebooked on a different flight, or if your flight is only delayed for a few hours, you likely won’t be able to make a successful claim. In most cases, your flight has to be delayed by over 24 hours for you to receive travel delay reimbursement.
  • Check your policy PDS. The PDS lays out all the inclusions and exclusions on your travel insurance policy, so it’s a good place to start to find out what you’re covered for.
  • If your flight is cancelled, get in touch with your airline first. Most of the time, you can’t make a claim under your travel insurance if you’re able to get a full refund from the airline instead. If your airline only offers a partial refund, your insurer may pay the difference.
  • Contact your insurer to find out whether you’re covered under your travel insurance policy. Each insurer treats claims a little differently, so it’s worth getting in touch to find out if you’re eligible to claim or not. If it turns out you are covered, make sure to lodge your claim within 30 days.

...You want to cancel your flight?

While you may feel very much inclined to cancel your trip altogether, keep in mind that most airlines have made alternate arrangements. If you cancel your flight anyway, the chances of you being eligible for a refund under your travel insurance policy are slim as “change of mind” or “fear of flying” aren’t usually covered under regular travel insurance.

If all of this sparks concerns for what you know about what you can claim on travel insurance, check out our travel insurance 101 guide or compare travel insurance options.