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Berkshire Hathaway Launches Affordable, Fixed-Rate Travel Insurance

201405-hd-berkshire-hathaway-aircare-logojpgBerkshire Hathaway is shaking up the travel insurance industry with the launch of AirCare, which offers an inexpensive, fixed-rate plan covering delays, tarmac waits, missed connections, and lost or delayed luggage. But more than its $25 price, the latest from Warren Buffett’s corporation stands out because it streamlines the biggest insurance headache of all: filing claims.

The first policy to focus exclusively on air travel, the aptly named AirCare has a generous payout structure—one that almost seems to good to be true. For tarmac delays of more than two hours and lost or stolen luggage, travelers are awarded $1,000. For a missed connection due to flight delay or a luggage delay of more than 12 hours, you get $500. And for a flight delay of more than two hours, it’s $50. (See how it compares to two more traditional policies below.)

For delays and tarmac waits, AirCare uses a flight-tracking service and will automatically notify travelers via smartphone that a claim has been issued for a delay; money is issued via Pay Pal or bank transfer. (See below for coverage amounts, and how they stack up against two traditional plans.) For other issues—say, a lost bag—travelers can snap a photo of a declaration from the airline and submit it via the AirCare smartphone app.
 
Unlike most traditional policies, simplicity is key here. There are no quotes to request, and signing up doesn’t require entering the total trip cost, dates, your age, and other details. Just enter your flight information—which will be linked to the tracking service—pay $25, and you’re all set.
 
The end goal of the new policy, which can be booked up to an hour before your departure time, is to keep travelers moving. “If you’ve missed a connection because of a delay, the $500 is to help you rent a car or jump on another flight,” says Brad Rutta, Director of Marketing at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. “We don’t look at it as a reward. We look at it as a way to get you where you need to go.”
 
AirCare is only available for domestic flights for now, though international coverage may roll out as early as next month; other additional features are currently being researched.
 
Here is how AirCare compares to the most basic plans from TravelGuard and Allianz.
 
AirCare
Cost: $25
Tarmac delays (more than 2 hours): $1,000
Lost or stolen luggage: $1,000
Missed connection due to flight delay: $500
Luggage delay (more than 12 hours): $500
Flight delay (more than 2 hours): $50
 
Allianz Essential Plan
Cost: $50 (a $1,500 trip for a 35 year old)
Trip cancellation and interruption: total cost of trip
Flight delay (six or more consecutive hours): $150
 
TravelGuard Basic Plan
Cost: $53 ($1,500 trip for ages 35 to 59)
Trip cancellation and interruption: total cost of trip
Trip delay (more than 12 consecutive hours due to a covered reason): $100 per day/per person up to $500
Lost or stolen luggage: $500 (subject to $50 deductible)
Luggage delay (more than 24 hours): $100
(This plan also includes medical and emergency evacuation coverage)

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

 

Image courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.

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