Should You Purchase AirCare Insurance?

“A s the delay unfolded and the torturous minutes dragged on, I kicked myself for not having considered what could have transformed the experience from awful to awesome: Berkshire Hathaway’s Aircare”, according to this article written by Kendra Collins of Points & Pixie Dust. “Aircare is a fabulous thing to have in your travel toolkit. If you’ve ever got a hunch that a flight might be delayed, you can put money on that hunch and purchase a quick bit of insurance. For about the cost of a meal and a drink at the airport, you can create a situation where you’re getting paid to sit on the tarmac or miss your connection.”

That sounds great — but should you purchase Aircare insurance?

Should You Purchase AirCare Insurance?

“Simple, Affordable Flight Insurance. No matter what.” That is the message which greets you when you first arrive at the official Internet web site of AirCare. “AirCare’s not complicated. But it is powerful. Starting at $34 on domestic flights, it can start rebooking a missed connection automatically. Pay you fast when you’re stuck on the tarmac. Even take the sting out of lost luggage.”

Even the official video promoting AirCare infers that claims from use of the insurance are carefree and easy.

The coverage provided by AirCare seems rather simple enough.

AirCare coverage for domestic flights

Coverage for domestic flights. Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: AirCare.

AirCare coverage for flights abroad

Coverage for flights abroad. Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: AirCare.

Is AirCare too good to be true?

Reviews From FlyerTalk Members Who Have Used AirCare

Marketing can be such an amazing tool for a company, as it it used exclusively to extol the virtues of the products or services offered by a company — like being in a virtual utopia…

…so what is using AirCare like in the “real” world?

Because I have never purchased AirCare insurance — which was introduced greater than two years ago — I thought I would check on people who have used it: FlyerTalk members.

FlyerTalk member Wollstonecraft paid $25.00 for a policy one week prior to the departure of a flight which ultimately arrived five minutes before the connecting flight was scheduled to depart; and Wollstonecraft missed that connecting flight before filing a claim and having it fulfilled to the tune of $500.00. “Not instantaneous, but pretty quick and painless. I will probably buy this again.”

When Wollstonecraft did purchase another policy several months later, the experience was markedly different: “I just went to buy this after previous purchases and noticed they have some very annoying new restrictions. I don’t mind the $250 cap for misconnects, but now you can only have 2 flight segments per 24-hour period, i.e. they will only cover flights with one connection. Given the cascading nature of misconnects, this is pretty annoying.” The experience caused Wollstonecraft to look into annual travel insurance policies “instead of dripping money on this. Too bad, it had worked out for me in the past.”

FlyerTalk member Delta3MM found AirCare fairly useless:

“Specifically, if your first flight cancels (my return canceled TWICE), they don’t consider you ‘missing’ your connection. It doesn’t matter if the airline can’t book you until tomorrow, you get zero.

“Only time they pay out is 1) if your flight is delayed by > 2 hours (you double your money), 2) You sit on the tarmac for > 2 hours (OK a lot more money – but rare) or 3) If you first flight is so late you miss your connection.

“You get zip if you first or last or any of your flights is canceled. Even if delayed first. As long as they are canceled before departure, you get zip.

“Say your first flight is delayed by >2 hours and then cancels, you get zip.

“Insurance is like Vegas. They gota get more money than they pay out. And they get $25 for each trip and rarely pay it back out.”

Reactions from other FlyerTalk members pertaining to AirCare insurance were mixed — although more of them were negative than positive…

…and of the positive experiences, the process was not as easy as claimed by AirCare.

Summary

First, you must start off with this basic premise: insurance companies exist to make money. They profit on what is basically legalized gambling: you are betting that you will experience an anomaly which qualifies for a payout from the insurance company, which is betting that either nothing will happen to you; something will happen to you but will not be eligible for payout under the qualifications of the insurance policy; or by the time you are actually paid for a claim, you have already paid more money to the insurance company over time paying for the policy…

…or perhaps you do qualify for a claim; but receiving the money from the insurance company — laden with rules and procedures — can potentially be rather difficult to the point where pursuing your rightful claim is not worth the time and effort.

I have been a member of FlyerTalk for years and am experienced enough to know that if AirCare insurance was really as good as Kendra Collins believes, it would most likely be as popular as manufactured spending and affiliate credit cards. Alas, a search of FlyerTalk reveals little about AirCare; and while that is not a definitive endorsement either way of whether or not you should use AirCare, I have not seen many glowing reviews pertaining to it.

Personally, I am not convinced at this time to purchase it — but I will keep my mind open…

…but that does not necessarily mean that you should avoid purchasing AirCare insurance for a future flight — as long as you do your research first and realize that you are basically betting on what will happen pertaining to that flight.

Please share your story in the Comments section below if you have experience using AirCare insurance — whether it is positive or negative.

Thank you in advance.

Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

12 thoughts on “Should You Purchase AirCare Insurance?”

  1. WR says:

    As a general rule, never insure yourself against losses that aren’t life altering, unless it is of course mandated by law. Insurance companies don’t offer the wager if they thought they wouldn’t on average come out ahead. Blackjack is a better bet than unnecessary insurance.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I completely agree with you, WR.

  2. Levy Flight says:

    Just pay for the flight on a card with good travel insurance. No out of pocket costs and sound cover,

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I agree with you as well, Levy Flight; but unfortunately not everyone has the luxury of holding a credit card with good travel insurance…

      …speaking of which, it is always a good idea to carefully check the terms of the travel insurance of your credit card before embarking upon the next trip — especially as terms and conditions do change regularly.

  3. Kendra says:

    To be clear, I was fantasizing about AirCare specifically because I had been sitting on the tarmac for 134 excruciating minutes…;)

    At dire moments such as that, you gotta admit AirCare would take the sting out of the situation.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Sitting in an airplane on a tarmac for 134 excruciating minutes would drive almost anyone to delirious fantasies, Kendra; so I can definitely empathize. Thank you for the clarification.

      I have no problem admitting that AirCare could potentially take the sting out of the situation — assuming that all went well through the process from claim to payment — but how many other policies would have to be purchased for other flights where one is not entitled for a claim to be paid in order to have that “sting” mitigated?

  4. Ken says:

    Due to a pattern of bad spring thunderstorms in DFW this year, I went to buy AirCare in the chance my flight would be delayed. I was denied the ability to purchase anything, as they forecast that there would be severe weather in my area. This was over a week before my flight. In the end, I’m glad I wasn’t able to buy it since the weather was fine and there were no delays.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      AirCare actually did you a favor, Ken; but do not relate your experience to the marketing department of AirCare — lest you see an advertisement proclaiming about their proactive service to save you money while simultaneously omitting admission to their faulty prognostications…

  5. Boraxo says:

    JPM palladium card provides good coverage for delay, cancels, missed bags, medevac, etc- much more useful. The product you describe is more like an expensive wager with bad payout odds.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for the recommendation, Boraxo.

      If it helps even one reader of The Gate, it has served its purpose.

      Please feel free to provide a link as a reference…

  6. Mike says:

    If they charge the same premium for every flight, and it would appear they do, the play is to buy the insurance only when booking flights with subpar on-time performance. I believe you could routinely turn a profit buying this insurance on many scheduled Spirit flights, specifically.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      What you describe is a sort of “loss leader”, Mike — which indeed may be possible to implement…

      …but as with other schemes taken on by fellow frequent fliers over the years, too much abuse of what you suggest will surely shut it down almost immediately…

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