What Are Unforeseen Events in Travel Insurance?

What Are Unforeseen Events in Travel Insurance?

Last Updated:

Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events that happen before you leave for your trip and once you’re abroad. These unforeseen events can be defined as events that impact travel that cannot reasonably be predicted or controlled. 

When it comes to travel, there’s obviously a lot of factors outside of our control, so the list of potential unforeseen events is extensive. 

Most comprehensive travel insurance policies may provide coverage for unforeseen events that happen before a trip, while a traveler is in transit, and during a trip. We explore examples of some of the more common events below: 

Unforeseen Events Before A Trip

Under most single-trip policies, a traveler can cancel their trip and be reimbursed their prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs if an unexpected event forces them to cancel their trip. These cancellations may be covered under a policies Trip Cancellation benefit. 

The most common covered event is a traveler unexpectedly getting sick or injured leading up to a trip. Other common pre-trip unforeseen events typically covered by Trip Cancellation include: 

  • Accommodations made inhabitable by natural disasters or Inclement weather 
  • Terrorism attack in or near a city on a traveler’s itinerary
  • Involuntary layoff from an employer 
  • A hurricane warning or mandatory evacuation issues at a traveler’s home or destination

Unforeseen Events During Transit

Most travel insurance policies, including annual plans, provide coverage for unexpected events that can impact a policyholders travel schedule on their departure date. This most commonly includes flight and baggage delays. 

Travel Delay is a travel insurance benefit that covers travelers when their flight schedule is unexpectedly pushed back. This is usually due to inclement weather impacting air travel, airline labor strikes, or mechanical breakdowns. Travel Delay insurance can reimburse travelers for expenses incurred for significant delays, including meals and overnight accommodations. 

While rare, it’s possible for an airline to mistakenly misplace or misdirect your checked luggage. This unforeseen event is usually covered by the Baggage Delay benefit, which can reimburse travelers for toiletries, clothes, and other necessities while they await for their luggage to arrive at their destination. 

Unforeseen Events During A Trip

The primary reason most travelers purchase travel insurance is for protection from the unexpected while traveling. Luckily, travel insurance can protect against unforeseen injuries, illnesses, and events that may force a traveler to cut their trip short. 

The most commonly covered unforeseen events that occur during a trip are: 

Medical Emergencies

Getting sick or injured during a trip is a common fear among travelers. Not only does it take away from the enjoyment of the trip, but seeking medical treatment overseas can be extremely expensive. 

Travel medical insurance can cover the cost of hospital bills, ambulance rides, and other expenses related to an unexpected medical emergency. This may also include the cost to evacuate you to another medical facility if needed. 

Trip Interruptions 

Travel insurance may also cover unforeseen events that force you to end your trip early under the Trip Interruption benefit. This can be due to an unexpected medical emergency, death of a family member, inclement weather, terrorist attack, or any other covered reason. 

In the event you need to end your trip early, travel insurance policies will typically cover unused trip expenses, such as nights in a hotel and other bookings that are no longer needed. Some policies will also reimburse the additional cost of airfare needed to return home early. 

Baggage & Personal Belongings

Losing your luggage during your trip is an unexpected event often covered by travel insurance. If your bags get lost, stolen, or damaged at any point during your trip, a policy’s Baggage and Personal Item Loss benefit may reimburse you for the cost of the damaged or lost items up to a specified amount. 

Understanding What’s Not Covered

It’s important to understand that travel insurance does not cover every unexpected event. Providers will outline policy exclusions in their Policy Certificates. The wording can vary from one policy to the next, but most providers will exclude coverage for similar events. 

Common unforeseen events excluded from coverage include: 

  • Illness or injuries resulting from a pre-existing condition 
  • Illness or injuries sustained while taking place in hazardous sport or activity. Travelers with more adventurous activities should consider a Adventure & Sports travel insurance plan.
  • Medical complications resulting from pregnancies 

For specific questions regarding covered or uncovered unforeseen events, please review the information found on your policy certificate. If you have questions about a specific policy, please contact us directly at 800-240-0369. Our customer service representatives are available from 8am to 10pm ET seven days a week and are delighted to help!