Travel insurance carriers sometimes answer frequently asked questions online and in newsletters. The following is an excerpt from the Travel Insured International March newsletter. It discusses what coverage is available and the options that travelers have when inclement weather impacts a vacation.
The Travel Scenario
Two couples – the Smiths and the Joneses – were flying to Ft. Lauderdale, FL from Newark, NJ to catch a cruise. They made the decision not to fly a day early and are booked on the 7 a.m. flight on Saturday, Feb. 27. The total per person trip cost is $1,400. For this example let us say that they are each 55 years old. Due to the storm that hit Newark on Thursday, Feb 25, and ended the following day, thousands of flights on Continental were cancelled.
On Friday Feb 26, the four travelers were informed by Continental that their flight was cancelled for Saturday. Despite checking all flights on multiple airlines from all the major New York and Philadelphia area airports, they could not be rescheduled on any flight that
would get them to the ship in time for embarkation.
The gate agent was able to get them on flights to St Thomas (the first port of call) on Monday, March 1. The ship was scheduled to arrive in St Thomas on Tuesday, March 2. The clients were required to pay a $250 fee to change their airline tickets to St Thomas.
In addition to the extra airfare, they also needed a hotel for one night at $250 per room in St Thomas prior to boarding the cruise. Finally, they missed the first two days of the cruise due to missing the ship’s departure from Ft. Lauderdale.
The following answers are based on the clients having purchased Worldwide Trip Protector to provide the benefit levels.
Question #1: The Smith’s decided not to rush to St. Thomas. At that point could they have cancelled their cruise if they taken out your insurance policy?
The answer is yes as long as their initial airline delay was 24 consecutive hours. In this example the original departure time was February 27 at 7 a.m. If their airline could not accommodate them on a different flight departing before 7 a.m. on February 28, they would then be eligible for this coverage. The client must understand that if the airline can get them on a different flight to their destination departing within 24 hours, but it still means missing their embarkation, they are not eligible for trip cancellation. They would only have access to the Missed Connection coverage (only if there is a connection flight), after a three-hour delay, and Travel Delay coverage, after a six-hour delay, if they do not reach the 24-hour delay mark.
Question # 2: The Jones’ decided they wanted to catch up to the ship. What can the clients claim on their policy for reimbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses?
There are three pieces of the coverage that the clients can claim in this scenario:
- Trip Delay coverage would reimburse up to $200 per person per day with a maximum of $1,000 to cover hotel nights, meals, toiletries, and other essentials.
- Trip Interruption coverage, which took effect because the initial delay was longer then 24 consecutive hours, would reimburse them for the first two, “unused” days of the cruise, and / or the additional airfare to reach their destination. In this example the per-person trip cost is $1,400 for a seven-day trip, and we would divide the total trip cost by seven to determine the per-day amount of $200 per person per day which would be reimbursed to them.
- Missed Connection coverage would apply if the clients had a connecting flight instead of a direct flight. This benefit would reimburse them up to a maximum of $500 per person for additional airfare and change fees. For example, if the Smiths were originally scheduled to make a flight connection through Atlanta, instead of flying nonstop to Florida, this coverage would apply if the flight from Newark to Atlanta was delayed for at least three hours resulting in their missing the connecting flight in Atlanta. The missed connection forces them to fly from Atlanta to St. Thomas to catch up to their cruise. In this case, the clients are eligible for the Missed Connection coverage that reimburses them for additional airfare and/or change fees.
The coverage described above is specific to plans from Travel Insured International. Always refer to the certificate of insurance for details.