With Canada recently joining the rest of the world in grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, this past week thousands of travellers had to deal with unexpected delays and cancellations. As a result travel insurers are bracing for a spike in claims.
Over the weekend Air Canada and WestJet scrambled to reassign planes carrying passengers returning from spring break holiday abroad in the U.S. and Mexico. While prioritizing those international flights, many of the airlines' domestic flight plans were interrupted. The changes have left thousands of flyers to deal with cancelled flights and rebooking delays.
Change of Flight Plans
The grounding of the 737 Max 8 aircraft comes as a result of two major crashes in less than a year. Investigations found that both crashes were caused by a problem with the plane's in-flight control software. Boeing is quickly working on a solution to get the planes back in the air, but until then air travel disruptions are expected to continue.
The airlines have said they are dedicated to working with customers to reschedule flights for no additional fees. Air Canada is offering full fee waivers for stranded customers. But that doesn't quite cover costs for extra hotel nights, transportation and meals on the go for disrupted travellers.
Let the Claims Begin
Since the airlines won't be able to cover every cost waylaid flyers might endure, customers will have to turn to their travel insurance policies to try and recoup extra expenses caused by the 737 Max 8 grounding. However, not all travel insurance policies are created equal. Policies featuring a "common carrier delay" benefit will likely cover grounded Boeing 737 claims. The common carrier delay clause provides coverage for unexpected delays, cancellations or groundings.
In addition, travel insurance policies with a "cancel for any reason" clause should also be eligible for claims. That type of policy would also generally apply to travellers who may be too spooked to fly in general, due to the recent events. Those wishing to make complaints against their air carrier can contact the Canadian Transportation Agency.
The Importance of Travel Insurance
The current situation highlights why travel insurance is always a good idea. Many flyers who opted not to buy travel insurance for their trips might be wishing that they had. While the Boeing events are unprecedented, other circumstances that disrupt travel plans are far more common. Whether there is a sudden death in the family, a natural disaster or you come down with an illness, travel insurance can reimburse you for your cancelled trip.
Remember that specific provisions in travel insurance policies may vary, as many travellers affected by the groundings are likely to discover. It always pays to read the fine print and know what you are covered for.
The groundings are considered "extraordinary circumstances" by the industry, which means those who decided to cancel their flights all together might not be covered by some travel insurance policies. Again, those with a "common carrier delay" or a "cancel-for-any-reason" clause will have the strongest claims. Despite its rarity, the Boeing 737 groundings are yet another reminder of why travel insurance is so important. Start shopping and comparing policies at Rates.ca before your next holiday adventure.