Hurricane Sandy is current reminder of the value of travel insurance. Thousands of flights were cancelled or delayed and hundreds of thousand of travelers were directly affected either with cancelled trips or with unforeseen additional living expenses due to delayed trips.
How does travel insurance help? There are 3 main coverages that benefit travelers:
- trip cancellation – coverage if the trip has to be cancelled due to a covered reason. Most plans include “weather conditions which cause complete cessation of service” as a covered reason. Depending on the plan they may require the cessation of service to exceed a certain threshold, usually 24 consecutive hours however, some plans don’t have a minimum.
- trip interruption – coverage that begins when the traveler has left on their trip and it provides benefits for unused, non-refundable travel arrangements and return transportation expenses if the trip has to be interrupted or curtailed due to a covered reason. Most travel insurance plans use the same covered reasons for trip interruption as they do for trip cancellation which usually includes “weather conditions which cause complete cessation of service” as a covered reason.
- trip delay – intended to reimburse a traveler for additional living expenses that are incurred as a result of a delay caused by a covered reason, such as weather which causes the traveler’s common carrier to be delayed for a minimum number of hours.
The amounts and conditions of coverage vary by plan and company. It’s best to compare plans before buying and to consult with a travel insurance professional.