This winter season has forced many travel plans to be detoured, stalled and cancelled. The challenges that the snow and ice have created highlights the value of understanding how travel insurance can help in such situations.
This week has been filled with flight delays and cancellations. Even though the busy holiday travel season has passed and the volume of people flying is significantly less, this storm was perhaps the worst yet of the winter season. The following excerpt is from USA Today addressing the numerous flights impacted by the extreme winter weather.
Thousands of air travelers enter the weekend looking for seats on planes, after airlines canceled 2,369 more flights on Thursday following a massive winter storm that dumped snow, ice and freezing rain over much of the U.S.
Airlines by late Thursday had canceled an additional 821 flights scheduled for today, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware.
Since Sunday, more than 18,700 flights have been canceled, according to FlightAware’s count. The result: As many as 500,000 fliers may have had their travel plans disrupted this week, FlightAware’s Mark Duell said.
Working in travelers’ favor is that the storm arrived during a traditionally light travel time of the year. Airlines and travel analysts said that could help airlines get back on track in a few days.
Travel insurance can provide relief to travelers impacted by the snow and ice. It is important to review plans carefully to understand when coverage benefits are available. Here are a list of coverage benefits which can apply and an explanation of how they help.
Missed Connection – When an airline delay causes a traveler to miss another flight, this coverage reimburses costs of catching up to the trip. Depending on the plan, the flight delay must be from 3 to 6 hours before coverage applies. Look closely when comparing plans, because some only cover a missed cruise or tour departure, which means a missed flight departure is not covered.
Travel Delay – This is helpful for travelers stuck at the airport or forced to have an unplanned overnight stay near the airport. Travel delay reimburses expenses for food, lodging and local transportation during a delay. This also requires a delay to last for a set number of hours before coverage is available, anywhere from 5 to 24 hours.
Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption – Cancellation is before the trip begins and the entire trip is scrapped. Interruption is once travelers are on the trip and could be a delayed departure, missed time in the middle or an early return home. Both reimburse the trip costs that go unused and are not refunded by the travel suppliers. However, trip interruption also reimburses the expenses of catching up to the trip, similar to missed connection. The reason for cancelling or interrupting must be one of the covered reasons listed in the policy. Many plans cover an airline delay caused by weather that lasts 48 hours, some as little as 12 hours.
Travelers who already have travel insurance and have had flights delayed or cancelled should contact their insurance carrier to learn how they are covered. Always refer to the certificate of insurance for details.