Baggage Delay Insurance: How It Works

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We’ve all had that feeling. You’re waiting by the carousel at baggage claim and there’s no sight of your bag. 

As the minutes roll by, you start to realize that you might be living off your carry-on for the next few days. That means you’ll have to buy new clothes, toiletries, maybe even an overpriced cell phone charger. 

Technically, the airlines are supposed to pay for whatever you have to buy while your bag is missing, and whatever they don’t cover might be covered by your baggage delay insurance. 

So how does that all work? What kinds of purchases will the airline compensate you for? If the airline is supposed to cover all of your emergency expenses, why is it still good to have baggage delay insurance as a credit card benefit? And which cards offer it? 

Erika Taught Me

  • Baggage delay insurance covers necessary personal items purchased while your bag is delayed.
  • Generally, you must first make a claim with the airline before making a claim through the baggage insurance.
  • Airlines provide some coverage, but you can get additional coverage through your credit card or a travel insurance company.

. . .

Which Credit Cards Offer Baggage Delay Insurance? 

Baggage delay insurance is becoming an increasingly rare benefit for travel rewards cards. 

Even top-tier travel cards like the Capital One Venture X and The Platinum Card® by American Express* only offer lost luggage insurance — not baggage delay insurance. 

Here’s a brief (and not necessarily complete) list of cards we could find that still offer complimentary baggage delay insurance: 

Typical benefits include up to $100 worth of reimbursements per day for up to five days. So if you’re not sure whether your bag will be returned, it’s best to limit your spending if you can. For example, spend $100 on toiletries and t-shirts.

What Is Baggage Delay Insurance? 

If your checked luggage gets delayed after a flight, baggage delay insurance can help to reimburse you for essential and “reasonable” purchases you have to make (clothes, toiletries, etc.) before your bag arrives. 

Let’s say you fly to Florida for a trip to the beach and the airline loses your bag. Until they find it, you’re down to the clothes on your back and the half-eaten bag of gummy bears in your carry-on. 

To get through the next couple of days, you’ll probably need to buy: 

  • Makeup, toiletries, and sanitary products
  • Replacement clothing and shoes
  • Prescription refills
  • A phone charger

And more. 

To be clear, there are probably other things in your checked baggage that you’d like to have (e.g. gifts, electronics, and your curling iron) but these are the things you need

Once you’ve bought the essentials, you can file a claim to your baggage delay insurance provider for the cost of the items. That’s generally how baggage delay insurance works. 

Do Airlines Provide Baggage Delay Insurance?

Technically speaking, yes. In fact, baggage delay insurance is included with every ticket by law. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are required to compensate passengers for “reasonable, verifiable and actual incidental expenses that they may incur while their bags are delayed.” 

Delta claims it “generally determines” reasonable expenses to be $50 per day, but regulations also ban airlines from setting arbitrary daily caps on baggage delay reimbursement. In truth, the DOT requires airlines to compensate you up to $3,800 in baggage delay reimbursement for domestic flights and $1,700 for international flights.

So don’t let them trick you into settling for less!

Why Get Separate Baggage Delay Insurance?

But hang on a second; if the airlines offer up to $3,800 in baggage delay insurance, what’s the point of having separate baggage delay insurance through your credit card or travel insurance? 

Well, there are three main reasons it’s good to have secondary baggage delay insurance: 

  1. Some airlines, like Delta, define “delayed” as 12 hours missing, while most credit cards define it as 6 hours missing. That means if Delta finds your missing bag after 8 hours, the airline won’t compensate you for any toothpaste and towels you bought in the meantime (but your credit card might).
  2. Airlines are notoriously stingy when it comes to baggage delay reimbursement. For example, an airline might deny your claim for a $79 laptop charger while Chase specifically lists “chargers for electronic devices” as a covered item. 
  3. Your credit card benefits can cover flights as well as trains, buses, and cruise ships. 

In summary, while airlines are supposed to compensate for essentials during a missing bag, backup delay insurance is still helpful for various reasons.

What Does Baggage Delay Insurance Cover?

It covers reasonable, essential purchases needed for the next few comfortable days.

Things like: 

  • Toiletries, such as toothpaste, shampoo, sanitary products, and makeup (to a reasonable extent)
  • Clothing, including shirts, pants, underwear, and possibly footwear
  • Electronic chargers, such as for your phone and laptop

Although airlines are liable for up to $3,800, you might struggle to get more than a few hundred from them.

A more likely scenario is that you pay $200 for toiletries, clothes, and new shoes and Delta offers $100, denying reimbursement for the shoes. So you file a secondary claim with Chase, and Chase pays the remaining $100. 

Related: Credit card rental car insurance: What you need to know

baggage at airport: How baggage delay insurance works?

What Does Baggage Delay Insurance Not Cover?

Every baggage delay insurance policy has exceptions. 

Chase, for example, won’t reimburse you for the following items:

  • Medical items (hearing aids, dentures, etc.)
  • Tickets, traveler's checks, and other valuable documents
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Cameras, video recorders, and other electronic equipment
  • Recreational equipment

And more. 

Spirit Airlines says it’ll only reimburse you for “reasonable personal items” such as clothing and toiletries. Delta says it’ll cover “reasonable expenses” and doesn’t list exclusions. 

Our recommendation is that you just buy what you reasonably need to feel comfortable for the next few days, knowing that you may not get fully reimbursed. Keep in mind that the airlines may put up resistance to any claim above $50 per day, and your travel rewards card will only cover up to $100 more, so $150 might be a good soft cap on your daily spending. 

Baggage Delay Insurance vs. Baggage Loss Insurance

These days, more travel rewards cards offer lost luggage insurance than baggage delay insurance. 

Lost luggage insurance applies when the airline has officially declared your bag lost. According to the Department of Transportation, that typically happens after five to 14 days, depending on the airline’s individual policy. 

Once your bag is declared lost, you’ll typically file a claim with the airline first. Just like with baggage delay insurance, the airline is responsible for compensating you for up to $3,800 for domestic flights and $1,700 for international. 

If the airline shortchanges you or the value of your bag and its contents exceeds $3,800, you can file a secondary claim with your credit card company or travel insurance provider to seek additional reimbursement. 

Lastly, if you have an open claim for baggage delay insurance when your bag is declared lost, your provider will typically deduct any baggage delay compensation from your lost luggage settlement. 

Primary vs. Secondary Insurance

In the insurance world, “primary” and “secondary” refer to the order of providers you file claims with. 

According to a Chase Benefits rep we spoke with, credit card baggage delay insurance is always secondary to the airline or your travel insurance. 

“In order to file a claim with Chase,” they said, “you must show proof that you’ve already filed a claim with the airline.” 

In other words, your secondary insurance serves as a “backup” if your primary insurance either denied your claim or didn’t pay it in full. 

Let’s say your bag was lost for three days so you paid $350 for incidentals. Delta only pays you $150. Rather than making a fuss, you choose to file a claim with your credit card for the remaining amount. 

Your credit card offers up to $100 per day in baggage delay reimbursement — or $300 total for the time your bag was missing — so your credit card provider approves your claim for the remaining $200. 

How To Make a Claim

Filing a claim against your baggage delay insurance typically looks something like this: 

  1. Report your bag as missing to the airline. Generally speaking, a bag can be considered missing if it doesn’t arrive at the carousel within 20 minutes of you walking off the plane. You can file a missing bag report in person or via phone, but you typically only have 24 hours to do so. You’ll then get a reference number you’ll need to submit your claim later.

    Oh, and if your bag is 20 minutes late, Delta will give you 2,500 SkyMiles right away for your trouble.
  2. Make your purchases and keep your receipts. Keep in mind that purchases made within six hours of your flight landing may not be covered by your credit card’s benefits and purchases made within 12 hours may not be covered by the airline.
  3. File a claim with your airline. Airlines typically have online forms where you can file a delayed baggage claim. You may need your flight itinerary, bag reference number, and a list of expenses made so far with original receipts.
  4. File a claim with your credit card company. If the airline doesn’t cover all of your expenses, you can then file a claim with your credit card company for the remaining amount. As before, you’ll need to submit a list of expenses with receipts, plus proof that you filed a claim with the airline first. 

How to Get Baggage Insurance

You can get baggage delay insurance in one of three ways: 

  1. From your airline ticket: Federal regulations require all airlines to include up to $3,800 in baggage delay reimbursement for each ticket sold. But there are plenty of gaps and exceptions to coverage and the airlines can be stingy when it comes to reimbursement.
  2. From your credit card: Some travel rewards cards offer up to $100 per day in baggage delay reimbursement if you booked your travel with the card. The coverage also extends to trains, buses and cruise ships.
  3. Form a travel insurance policy: Lastly, you can always purchase a separate travel insurance policy from a company like InsureMyTrip, which typically includes around $100 to $200 per day in baggage delay insurance. 

FAQ

How do I know if my credit card provides baggage insurance benefits?

The easiest way is probably to look on the website for your specific card and see if baggage delay coverage is listed as a benefit. If you aren't sure, you can call customer service and ask.

What purchases will be reimbursed if my baggage is delayed?

While waiting for your bag, the airline can reimburse you for essential personal items, up to a daily limit of up to five days.

For example, you may need a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a case for your contact lenses. That will likely be covered. Whereas, a new suit for a meeting is unlikely to be covered. 


Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.