Guide to Blackjack Insurance & Surrender

Blackjack insurance and surrender rules are side bets open to a player in blackjack. They are unique bets in that you are betting against winning the hand. Surrendering can be used to cut losses, whilst insurance is best not used at all.

The following article explains all you need to know about online blackjack surrender and insurance rules. You’ll learn what they are, how they work, and the different rules surrounding them. In addition, you’ll learn the best strategies for surrendering and why you should probably avoid taking insurance.

Page Contents

What Is Insurance in Blackjack?

Insurance in blackjack is a side bet you can make when the dealer’s first card is an ace. You are betting on the dealer having blackjack.

With this bet, you can wager 50% of your original wager against the possibility that the dealer’s second card is valued 10.

If this happens, your 50% insurance bet is paid out at 2:1.

If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the insurance bet is lost.

How Blackjack Insurance Works

As stated, the insurance wager is up to 50% of your initial bet.


For instance, if you bet $50, your insurance bet can be up to $25.

An insurance bet has two outcomes:

  1. The dealer checks their hidden card and the card has a value of 10, which gives them blackjack.

    You lose your original $50 bet but win the insurance bet, which returns 2:1.

    In our case, that means you finish the hand with $75, which is the same amount you have bet overall.

  2. The dealer checks their hand and finds they do not have a card with value of 10, meaning they don’t have blackjack.

    In this case, you lose your $25 insurance wager. and the hand proceeds as normal.

Note: Blackjack insurance rules can differ from one online casino to another.

When Should You Use Blackjack Insurance?

If you’re playing with the correct basic online blackjack strategy, you should never use insurance. Think about the math:

  • The dealer’s chances of turning over a card for blackjack are 9:4 against. There are nine cards with values that aren’t 10 in the decks (ace through nine) and four with a value of 10 (10s, jacks, queens, kings).
  • You’re only getting paid 2:1 odds if you win the bet. Using the common denominator, you’re getting paid 8:4, despite the 9:4 odds of losing the bet.

You’re not getting paid enough to compensate for the odds of insurance.

The only time you should use insurance is if you’re card counting. And, as we’ll explore below, card counting is rarely effective in online blackjack.

Types of Blackjack that Include Insurance

Insurance is available in many popular variants of blackjack that can be found on the net. Here are some of the most popular:

What is Surrender in Blackjack?

Blackjack surrender is a strategy which allows you to surrender your hand before it is over and only suffer a 50% wager loss.

You should only do this when you feel you cannot win the hand. Surrender can prove to be an effective blackjack strategy to prolong your bankroll and limit losses.

How Blackjack Surrender Works

In most online blackjack variations, you can surrender any hand, regardless of what cards you and the dealer have. In practice, there’ll only be certain situations in which it’ll make sense. For instance:

  • You bet $20 on a hand.
  • When the cards are dealt, you have 16.
  • It doesn’t come from a pair of eights, meaning you can’t split.
  • Meanwhile, the dealer has a 10 showing.

If you know basic blackjack odds, you know that you’re in bad shape with this hand. If you so choose, you could surrender the hand. Instead of losing $20, you’d lose just $10.

After you surrender, your hand is over. The risk you run with surrender is that you might have won the hand if the cards turned your way.

When is Surrender a Good Play in Online Blackjack?

Learning when to surrender could be an effective blackjack bankroll management strategy if you follow the blackjack surrender rules.

Most basic online blackjack strategies suggest surrendering hands like the one above:

  • When you have 16, your chances of hitting and staying under 21 are slim.
  • Yet if you stand, the chances that the dealer somehow busts while sitting with 10 are also pretty unlikely.

You’ll also find occasions when you’re advised to surrender at 15. When you get to more advanced strategies, you might find it depends on which cards you have to make up the 15.


For instance, whether you surrender might depend on whether you have a 10 and a five or an eight and a seven. But the bottom line is that it’s mathematically in your favor to surrender sometimes.

This is never the case with insurance when playing blackjack online.

Different Rules for Online Blackjack Insurance & Surrender

Some online casinos have different rules for blackjack insurance and surrender. It’s important to know the rules in place so that you can choose the proper strategy.

Early Surrender vs. Late Surrender

Early Surrender

With early surrender, you can exit the hand and pay just 50% of your initial bet before the dealer checks for blackjack.

Unfortunately, this version of surrender at online blackjack casinos isn’t as common as late surrender, but when available it is considered the better of the two options.

  • Reduces house advantage by 0.62%
  • Increases rate of return if a dealer shows ace and 10.
  • Not offered at all online casinos

When To Use It: If the dealer is showing an ace and you have a hard value of 5-7 or 12-17.

Late Surrender

Conversely, late surrender is done once the dealer checks for blackjack. You’ll receive 50% of your bet if the dealer doesn’t get blackjack.

  • More commonly offered than early surrender options
  • Limit loss to 50%
  • Still lose 50% of your bet

When To Use It: If you have a total of 16 against an ace or 10, or 17 against an ace.

Is Early or Late Surrender Better?

Early surrender isn’t as widely available, but this is the better option.

It’s considered the better option because you guarantee that you only lose 50% of your wager, whereas, with the late option, you’ll lose 100% if the dealer has blackjack.

Online vs. Offline Play With Insurance & Surrender

The main difference between online and offline blackjack is that, when you’re playing in a casino, you have the opportunity to count cards. Online play makes this next to impossible. But if you can count cards, you’ll find that surrender and insurance come into play more often.

By card counting, you can know which cards have already been played. That gives you a better idea of what cards are still in the deck, and this can come into play with insurance and surrender.


There may be times when insurance is actually a good play if you can count cards. If you know there are many cards with a value of 10 still in the deck, the dealer’s odds of getting blackjack with an ace increase to the point where it makes sense to make the insurance bet.

You might find that surrender strategies change depending on which cards remain in the deck.

Unfortunately, online blackjack makes card counting almost impossible. Shuffling is either constant or much more frequent in the case of live online dealers than in casinos.

More Blackjack Bets

There are a few more common side bets that can be taken in blackjack.


This side bet is for the first two cards in your hand, as well as the dealer’s face up card. You win if you achieve any of the following three-card poker hands:

  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a Kind
  • Straight Flush
  • Suited Three of a kind.

Perfect Pairs

Based on both your hole cards, you can receive a payout for the following types of pairs:

  • Mixed (two different colors)
  • Colored (same color, not same suit)
  • Perfect (same number, same suit)

These bets have quite high house edges — 3.2386%. and 5.79%, respectively — so you should consider them as a bit of fun on the side that promises an improbable large win.


  • If a play is strategically correct, the size of your bankroll shouldn’t affect it. If you find yourself making any kind of blackjack decision based on whether or not you have enough of a bankroll, it could be a sign that you need to lower the size of your bet per hand. Don’t eliminate certain strategic plays just because you’re trying to stay afloat longer.

  • Unlike insurance, surrender is a good strategic play when you’re up against standard blackjack odds. Therefore, any online game that denies it lessens your potential payback. Unless the game in question offers up some other extremely advantageous rule, you should avoid it if surrender isn’t available to you.

  • If you think about surrendering and insurance in this manner, it could dissuade you from using them. That could be a mistake, especially in the case of surrender. Think of them in terms of boosting your overall payback, even if they might be a concession in the moment.

  • Blackjack costs 50% of the wager made on your initial hand if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack.

  • Yes. You’re given a fake amount of money to spend when you play free versions of online blackjack. Therefore, you can wager this fake money for insurance bets.

  • Not only should you not always make an insurance bet, but we suggest avoiding it altogether. Ultimately, the house edge compromises any upside the bet may have.

  • The proper hand signal for surrender in blackjack is to place your middle finger on the table, rest your pointer finger on top, and glide it across the table horizontally.