Should you unexpectedly find yourself needing to fly home while overseas, most travel insurance policies will cover the cost of emergency return flights. But are you entitled to compensation if you used frequent flyer points to pay for your flight?

What are the rules if you have to get back to oz due to sickness back in oz and your journey has already started?
Would us allow you to change flights if there were any seats which will probably not be the case?
Would your travel insurance cover this being that they are ff seats? If so would the travel also be in first/bus class?

Depending on the airline, you may not be able to get a refund if you want to cancel the rest of the booking after the first flight has been taken. So this is where travel insurance would come in.

Although it very much varies between travel insurance providers, most are likely to refund the cost of the points, based on the number of points used to book the flights, and the number of sectors flown so far. But what value do insurance companies place on a frequent flyer point?

Points do not have a definitive value, so this is not an easy question to answer. Some of our members believe the amount of compensation would be commensurate with the cost of a commercially available airfare. Others believe the cost of obtaining the points in the first place would be taken to account. For example, if the points were available for purchase from that airline, the refund would be the cost of the points had they been purchased outright.

It is mentioned that some insurance companies may even compensate lost frequent flyer points with actual frequent flyer points. One such company is Qantas partner QBE Insurance. Though this does not appear to be the norm.

If you’ve booked on points it may pay to check the fine print of your insurance policy.

If you’re worried that your insurance provider won’t cover lost points (e.g. if you have a pre-existing medical condition), then one alternative method of ensuring you don’t lose your points completely should you need to return home is to book one-way awards. This is possible with numerous programs including Qantas Frequent Flyer and American Airlines AAdvantage. American Airlines will not only refund the points, but don’t charge a penalty for cancellation ahead of the flight. Other airlines may have different policies.

…if [the medical condition] is pre-existing, and there’s not going to be any cover anyway, better to select a different FF program to start with. Qantas will charge 5000 points cancellation for example, and refund the rest of the points. AA will allow free changes (and so on).

Ultimately though there is one thing here that most of our members can agree on:

As for those insurance clauses, what a load of gobbildy gook!!!

Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]