Sports Equipment Coverage

If you like to travel with your own sports equipment, you might like to know it’s protected from loss or damage. Here’s what travel insurance provides.

9 September 2011
Sports Equipment Coverage

This coverage provides reimbursement (up to the policy maximum) for the value of lost, stolen, damaged, or delayed sporting equipment checked with the airline.

Contents (click to jump down)
What does Sports Equipment cover?
Important notes about this coverage
What type of policy covers this?
How much coverage does each company provide?

Let us tell you a story

Allen and his wife Linda were looking forward to a long break in Turks and Caicos. Their twin sons were headed to colleges in two different states in the fall and they wanted a last family vacation before becoming empty nest’ers. Experienced divers all, they planned a few dives, many long soaks in the sun, and lots of snorkeling.

When they landed in Providenciales, they discovered two of their checked bags had gone to New Zealand instead! Those missing bags held all the SCUBA gear, and they were to meet their dive guide the very next morning. The airline rep said it would take at least a week to re-route their bags and by that time, the dive portion of their vacation would be over. Luckily Linda had purchased a travel insurance plan with coverage for delayed sports equipment. She contacted the travel assistance line and got authorization to rent the gear they needed instead. Happily, the next morning, the dive company was able to outfit the family with rental gear for a good price and the family continued their vacation plan knowing they would be reimbursed for the equipment rental costs.

What does Sports Equipment cover?

Sporting equipment nearly always has to be checked simply because it’s often too big to fit anywhere else. Many travelers are now aware that the airline provides limited coverage for lost, damaged, or destroyed baggage and delayed bags. They have also defined strong limits on their liability for checked baggage – even if the gear inside the bag is valuable.

Once a claim is made, the airlines can take their time determining the amount of the claim and they will depreciate the value of the items in your bag and require purchase receipts to back up your claim. So, if you don’t carry comprehensive records with you when you travel (and we don’t know anyone who does), you can expect to spend some time negotiating with the airline. Even if your equipment is simply delayed, you could be looking at some hefty rental costs while the airlines sort out what went wrong and locate your equipment.

Travel insurance companies place a per-item maximum for lost items, including sports equipment.  Coverage for sports equipment is almost always an optional rider, which will increase your travel insurance premium cost.

Some of the sports equipment covered with travel insurance plans offering this option include:

  • Golf clubs
  • Guns and hunting gear
  • Skis
  • SCUBA gear
  • Climbing gear

When the coverage for sports equipment is included with the baggage loss protection, you can quickly use up all the benefits if your bag containing your clothing and personal items is also lost.

Special note about sporting equipment

In some cases, your sporting equipment can be scheduled on your homeowners policy (just like you would cover your more expensive cameras, jewelry, etc.) depending on your policy. Consider checking with your homeowner’s insurance provider for options. The coverage would be subject to your homeowner’s deductible and coverage, of course, but it might be the best way for a traveler to avoid expensive losses.

Important notes about this coverage

  • The airlines have a long list of items they will not cover if lost, stolen, or destroyed – even if the loss was their fault
  • This benefit is considered secondary to what is provided by the common carrier handling your sporting equipment
  • Airline coverage for lost equipment is extremely limited and varies from carrier to carrier. It can also take days or weeks before an airline will admit a bag is irretrievably lost
  • Expect that your equipment’s value will be depreciated based on it’s age and perhaps other factors
  • Coverage for sports equipment may be an optional rider, which increases your travel insurance premium
  • Original receipts as proof of purchase are usually required when making a claim
  • If your sporting equipment is delayed, the coverage can be used to reimburse you for purchased or rented replacement equipment (delay time frames apply)
  • Bicycles are often covered with baggage coverage (up to the per item and plan limits) when traveling as checked baggage, so you don’t need extra coverage for bikes

What type of policy covers this?

Not many plans provide this type of coverage and the ones that do are typically package plans.


  • Bicycles are usually covered with typical baggage coverage, so they are not included in this benefit
  • Not many travel insurance plans have loss or delay coverage for your sporting equipment and many are optional riders
  • Those that do will reimburse you for new or rental equipment up to the plan limits if your sports equipment is lost or delayed
  • Some sporting equipment losses are combined with the baggage loss maximums
Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.