We all know the feeling. You have spent time and energy checking every website to find the most affordable flight or all-inclusive vacation in paradise, maybe stretching your budget to the very limits. You have gotten over the sticker-shock of the final tally with taxes and departure fees and then, as you get ready to hit “purchase,” you have to check one last box – will you purchase travel insurance or not?
Some of us are natural-born risk-takers who are totally comfortable rolling the dice, while others are more inclined to prepare for the worst, anticipating all sorts of things that could end up preventing us from getting on the plane. But whichever way you lean, your decision to click “travel insurance declined” should be based on an informed understanding of what is – and isn´t – covered by standard travel insurance plans.
You might be under the impression that buying travel insurance covers you for cancellations no matter what the reason – but you would be wrong! Just like life insurance won´t pay out in certain circumstances, there are all sorts of caveats and exclusions that you need to understand when making the decision to buy travel insurance.
No matter how willing we are to roll the dice, even the risk-takers should think about trip cancellation or interruption insurance. This is the sort of coverage that protects you when you need to cancel your trip because you or a close family member got ill before you left, or because you got into an accident on the way to the airport, or because you broke your leg hang-gliding on the second day of you trip (you risk-taker, you!) and need to go home to recuperate.
It is also the sort of coverage that protects you if you if Hurricane Whatever is unexpectedly rolling into the resort you just booked on the day you are supposed to arrive or if you have been called for jury duty in the middle of your vacation.
What all of these things have in common is that they are unforeseen and beyond your control. This means that cancellation or interruption policies will generally not cover things that could have been anticipated (ie., booking a resort the same day the national weather service called for a hurricane) or things that are within your control (i.e. you accepted your friend´s wedding invitation and now want to cancel your trip). For this reason, most cancellation policies will require that you take out the policy at the time of you booking – that is, well before any hurricane forecasts!
However, there is a grey area when it comes to things that make you not want to travel, rather than things that make it impossible to travel. In cases where new travel advisories have been issued, it may be possible to cancel a trip and to be covered by travel insurance simply because you don´t feel safe traveling. However, in cases of “cold feet,” or general nervousness about travelling, it is not likely that travel insurance plans will cover the costs of cancelled trips. For this reason, it is always important when buying travel insurance to make sure you understand exactly what will and will not be covered.
We hope this post will make travel a bit easier on your next getaway, so bon voyage!