Being forced to cancel a trip or return home early during a vacation is definitely not a great experience. Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance can help refund some of your money and get you home if needed. But first you have to have this coverage before you leave and the interruption and cancellation need to be covered.
Think about it: it is expensive to cancel or interrupt on-going travel particularly if you’ve prepaid for the whole vacation upfront. What trip cancellation or interruption insurance will do for you is alleviate the risk of serious financial cost in the event that something unforeseen gets in the way. This insurance costs only a small fraction of the overall trip expense. But what exactly is trip cancellation and trip interruption? What’s covered? We answer your questions in this article.
Trip Cancellation: Before You Leave
Trip cancellation is when you cancel the trip before the departure date. To be clear it does not refer to the airline cancelling a whole flight. It means that you personally choose not to take the flight. But why would you go to the trouble of arranging a trip only to cancel it before you ever get to the airport? A good question with a lot of good answers! Some reasons for cancellation include:
- A death or major illness in your family
- A personal medical or dental emergency
- The person you are travelling with has a change of plans due to an emergency or sickness
- The place you are going to has an extreme weather warning such as a hurricane or flood
- Your tour company or airline goes out of business
- Losing the financial resources needed to take the trip
A standard trip-cancellation policy would cover the penalties or losses you incur because you cancelled a trip but it has to be for an acceptable reason. Cancelling because you no longer feel like is not an acceptable reason.Talk to your broker about what your policy includes as an acceptable reason for cancelling a trip.
Trip Interruption: During the Trip
When your trip is cut short part-way through this is trip interruption. The reasons are largely the same as for a “cancellation” but the timing is different.
However, your insurance will not cover a trip interruption if you could have been reasonably informed that you would possibly have to interrupt your trip. For example:
- You cancel your family’s Hawaii vacation because there’s a hurricane. Was it a freak storm with unlucky timing OR is this Hawaii’s hurricane season?
- Sadly your grandpa passes away. Was it an accident or unexpected illness OR was his health already in decline when you bought your plane ticket?
- You have a personal medical emergency or don’t have time to get the shots you need for travel. Did you remember to consult your doctor before you made your travel plans OR did you forget to plan ahead?
- Your flight is delayed so you cancel the trip. However the flight takes off after an hour’s delay. Could you have waited instead of cancelling out of frustration?
Ensure you know what qualifies for reimbursement and help getting home when it comes to trip interruption.
Don’t Rely on Basic Coverage
Many credit cards advertise travel insurance including trip cancellation and interruption. Often however this coverage is very limited and can be hard to get refunded. For example, if you hope to be refunded the cost of a flight you cancelled you must prove you didn’t use the ticket and that you weren’t reimbursed for it. If you’re wondering “How do I prove I didn’t do something?” you’re beginning to understand how complicated this can be! Expect to jump through hoops and spend a great deal of time trying to convince one customer service person after another that your costs should be covered under their policy. This is generally easier to do with a travel insurance policy and you can always ask for the help of your broker.
While you hope you will never need it travel cancellation/interruption insurance is the responsible choice for a regular and informed traveler especially if you pay up front for a whole vacation. Talk to your broker about your options and enjoy your trip!