Traveling for the Holidays? – What You Need to Know About Travel Insurance

In the wake of recent mass flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines, many travelers might be concerned about what happens if their holiday travel plans become cancelled or interrupted by issues with a travel provider or issues on their end. Here are some things to know about travel insurance.

Trip Cancellation/ Trip Interruption Insurance

Trip cancellation insurance will reimburse you for any covered travel expenses arising from a need to cancel your trip prior to departure. Covered expenses might include airfare, hotel costs, the cost of a cruise or others depending on the policy.

Trip interruption insurance is similar to trip cancellation insurance, but this coverage kicks in if you are on your trip but need to cancel your trip while it is in progress.

Typical reasons for cancelling or interrupting a trip that are generally covered include:

  • The unexpected illness of you or a traveling companion that prevents travel or the continuation of the trip. A physician’s verification may be needed.
  • The hospitalization or death of a family member.
  • Circumstances that are beyond your control such as flight cancellation or the cancellation of another key component of the trip.
  • A natural disaster either at the home of the traveler or at the trip destination.
  • A legal obligation such as jury duty or if the traveler is required to appear at a court proceeding as a witness.

Baggage Insurance

Baggage insurance covers the loss of your luggage or personal belongings while traveling. This coverage may be offered as part of a broader travel insurance policy and is also offered by some major travel credit cards.

There are often limits on the coverage including:

  • A per item limit.
  • A per person limit.
  • A per item limit for certain high-end items.

You will generally need to notify local authorities which would occur when filing a claim with an airline. You may need to provide original receipts for very expensive high-end items.

In the case of baggage delays, the policy may cover the cost of purchasing replacement items such as clothing.

Will Travel Insurance Cover COVID -19 and COVID -19 Related Disruptions?

Whether or not a COVID-19 related trip disruption is covered by your travel insurance will depend on the policy and the insurer. If this is a concern, such as with a major trip you are planning, it is best to check with your insurer upfront.

Some policies offer a cancellation for any reason provision which would carry an additional cost. This might be a good idea, especially for a costly vacation trip. There could be COVID-19 issues that are unforeseen and that could result in travel bans or other disruptions.

Another coverage to look for is emergency medical care for a traveler who becomes ill with COVID-19 while traveling. This is an option offered by some insurers as well.

While a number of airline executives claim that vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 related issues will not disrupt holiday travel, the recent situation with Southwest Airlines was a wakeup call for many travelers. The holiday season is normally a prime time for weather-related travel disruptions, the addition of COVID-19 related issues means that travelers should be prepared for disruptions this year.

Experts recommend that travelers know in advance the best ways to contact an airline if they need to rebook or if things otherwise change. Researching back-up flights is also a good idea. Obtaining travel insurance is also recommended this year as well.

It is always a good idea for travelers to be prepared, but this has never been more true than for the 2021 holiday travel season. Be sure to know all of your options in advance in case a flight or other aspect of your trip is cancelled or disrupted. This can save a lot of aggravation and money if something does occur. Buying the appropriate type of travel insurance for your situation is a key component of being prepared this holiday travel season.

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These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.