Does Travel Insurance Cover You If You Get Deplaned and/or Injured By Airport Security?
So you’re taking a trip soon and the recent United Airlines fiasco has got you more than a little troubled! What if the same thing happens to you? Find out what your rights are and if travel insurance can cover you in case you run afoul of overzealous airport security and overbooking issues.
What happened with United Airlines that Had Everyone Talking?
To make a long story short, United Airlines overbooked a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, and as a result, a certain Dr David Dao and his wife were asked to leave the plane. They refused, and as a result Dr Dao was injured when airport security personnel attempted to ‘escort’ him from the aircraft. He reportedly suffered a concussion, a broken nose, and some lost teeth.
There have been reports that Dr. Dao violently resisted removal from the plane by the airport security , though his lawyers have refuted the claims. In the end, the case was settled between Dr Dao and United Airlines for an undisclosed sum, bringing an end to the fiasco that had dragged United Airlines’ reputation through the mud.
So, Would Dr Dao Have Been Covered by Travel Insurance?
In the case of Dr Dao, it is unlikely that he would have been allowed to claim for Accidental Bodily Injury, as technically he was violating the law when he refused to be removed from the plane, as well as when he resisted the authority of airport security personnel. The fact that he was injured in the process is irrelevant, because the altercation was a direct result of his resistance to being deplaned.
Do Airlines Have the Right to Deplane You When They’ve Overbooked?
If you are wondering how it is even possible for airlines to overbook in the first place, the practice is more common than you think, and is perfectly legal.
Airlines overbook flights to account for the estimated 5% of passengers who don’t turn up. Of course, this can get messy when ALL passengers turn up for their flights, resulting in an unsavoury situation where someone has to end up having a bad day.
To pacify the unlucky passengers and ensure they don’t feel hard done by, airlines generally provide compensation that comes in various forms like cash or travel vouchers, or a seat on the next flight. In Malaysia, the Malaysian Aviation Commission states that passengers who are voluntarily or involuntary removed from their flights can receive free accommodation, meals, phone calls and internet privileges as well as cash compensation.
Is overbooking covered by travel insurance?
The answer is yes, but not every travel insurance plan covers it.
In general there are 3 types of travel insurance – medical and accident focused plans, travel inconvenience-focused plans, and balanced plans that feature a mix of both. Overbooking coverage is a type of inconvenience coverage, so you’ll only find it in the latter two types of insurance plans.
In the event that you find yourself removed from a plane as a result of overbooking, your insurer will compensate you with a lump sum cash payment. The amount varies between different insurers and different travel insurance plans.
However, if the issue isn’t about being deplaned due to overbooking but rather about being disallowed to board the plane for specific reasons; such as loss of travel documents, missed departures or a black travel alert, worry not, because those can be covered by travel insurance too!
Can Travel Insurance Cover You If You Get Injured By Airport Security Personnel?
The answer is yes, but only if the travel insurance company deems that your injury is an ‘Accidental Bodily Injury’. Accidental bodily injury is defined as any injury that is a result of events that a reasonable and sane human being would not be able to foresee.
So, in the case of being injured by security personnel, it depends on whether or not the injury was unintentional and unforeseeable. For example, if you are injured as a result of provoking airport security, or resisting them against airport rules, then obviously you won’t be covered.
However if you are injured as result of the actions that are completely unprovoked or actions that a reasonable human being would not be expected to foresee, for example if airport security personnel accost you violently without having any reasonable grounds to do so, such as if you follow all their orders but they still resort to physical violence on you, then you will be covered by insurance.
How Else Can Travel Insurance Help with Airline Woes?
Here is a list of common air travel ‘annoyances’ for which travel insurance can provide compensation benefits for:
- When you miss a connecting flight
- Loss of luggage and personal effects
- Luggage delay
- Trip curtailments (where you have to cut your trip short due to circumstances such as the passing of a close relative or if you should fall seriously ill during your trip)
- Unexpected trip cancellations
Believe it or not, these travel inconveniences are more common than you think. If you don’t have a travel insurance policy in place, you’ll have to cover these costs on your own and face the hassle without compensation.
Why not give yourself the peace of mind you deserve and consider buying a travel insurance plan for your next trip? Hong Leong MSIG Takaful is one that offers travel policies for varying budgets and traveling needs. Learn more about the plan and others available on our comparison page.