Travel insurance (also known as trip cancellation insurance) can provide a number of benefits, including financial protection for your pre-paid trip investments. It can also reimburse you for pre-paid services like hotel reservations and theme park tickets if you decide to cancel your trip for a covered reason.
However, there may be instances when you won’t be covered. Your plan’s policy documents can provide benefit details, conditions, and exclusions.
Let’s look at a few instances when your trip cancellation insurance might not cover you. (Don’t worry. We’ll share a few tips on how to avoid these scenarios too.)
1. You Purchase Travel Insurance After a Named Hurricane Is Headed to Your Destination
A trip cancellation policy can provide financial protection for investments like airline tickets, Airbnb reservations, and other trip expenses.
However, you may not be covered for canceling a trip because of a hurricane if the hurricane was named (by the World Meteorological Organization) before you purchased your policy.
How to Avoid
Research the potential weather conditions of the destination you plan to visit. Situations like hurricanes or other weather emergencies could lead to canceled or delayed flights and damaged accommodations.
Consider these tips before purchasing your trip cancellation policy:
- Research Hurricane Threats – Check the National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center website for potential hurricane threats to your destination before booking your trip.
- Find an Alternate Destination – Consider other destination options if a hurricane is predicted to make landfall. Services like restaurants, shopping, and tourist attractions can be impacted by hurricane weather too. Look for alternate locations that aren’t threatened by severe weather conditions.
- Move Travel Dates – Push your trip back or travel earlier in the event a hurricane may threaten your destination. You may still be able to enjoy your vacation by strategically avoiding bad weather. Learn how to travel during hurricane season before your next trip so that you’re well prepared.
2. Your Flight Is Delayed for a Few Hours and You Decide to Just Cancel the Trip
Flights can be delayed for various reasons, like bad weather, mechanical issues, or runway backups. Travel insurance can provide coverage for delayed or cancelled flights, but it’s important to review your policy documents to see when you may be covered for cancelling your trip after a flight delay.
Trip Cancellation benefits often only cover you for delays that meet or exceed a set time frame as specified by your policy. For example, Atlas Trip Cancellation plans provide Trip Cancellation coverage for flights delayed more than 24 hours due to a covered reason like a strike or bad weather. (Learn more about covered reasons for trip cancellation below.)
If you cancel before that designated time, you won’t be reimbursed for a cancelled trip. However, you might be eligible for a Trip Delay benefit. This benefit may include coverage for extra expenses like meals, accommodations, and other necessary expenses incurred if your flight is delayed for a specific number of hours (often 5+ hours).
A Trip Cancellation benefit can provide reimbursement for pre-paid, nonrefundable travel expenses if you must cancel your trip due to a covered reason. But what are those covered reasons?
Every plan varies slightly, but these are some of the common covered reasons for cancelling a trip:
- A hurricane or other natural disaster that impacts your destination
- Terrorism or mandatory evacuation at your destination
- Injury or illness of yourself, your travel companion, a family member, or a business partner
- Bankruptcy or default of your travel common carrier (airline, cruise, etc.)
- Death or hospitalization of your destination host
- Damaged, vandalized, or burglarized home or business
- Requirement to serve jury duty
- Being subpoenaed or a victim of a felony assault prior to your trip
- Military redeployment
- Involvement in a traffic accident
- Requirement to work, termination of work, or transfer
Covered reasons vary among travel insurance plans. Check your plan’s policy documents to see a full list of covered reasons for trip cancellation as well as conditions and exclusions.
How to Avoid
Checking your plan’s specifics could be the difference between cancelling for a covered reason (and getting reimbursed for your trip cost) and cancelling for a not covered reason (and not being reimbursed for all your prepaid expenses). Review the policy documents for your plan carefully, paying special attention to benefits like Trip Cancellation and Trip Delay
Use these tips as well when planning your trip or dealing with a flight delay:
- Fly Early – Morning flights are less likely to be delayed than those later in the day. Look for flights that depart earlier rather than later to reduce your chances of a delay.
- Wait Patiently – Trip Cancellation benefits often kick in once an airline has been delayed for at least 24 hours. Read the policy documents for your plan and consider waiting for the cutoff before cancelling.
- Use Travel Delay Benefits – These benefits often kick in after five or more hours of delay, depending on your plan. Receive reimbursement for necessary accommodations, meals, local transportation, and other necessities listed in the Travel Delay benefit details for your plan.
Learn more about how to handle a delayed or cancelled flight.
3. You Cancel After Getting Cold Feet About Flying for the First Time
There are many covered reasons for cancelling a flight, but getting cold feet usually isn’t one of them. Reasons like an injury that prevents you from flying or the death of a close family member are just a couple common covered reasons for cancelling a trip.
How to Avoid
Consider preventative measures if you are nervous about flying. Use these tips to better prepare yourself for your trip:
- Do Your Research – Airplane accidents are newsworthy events, but they aren’t as frequent as you think. Do some personal research about these complex machines and the extensive list of rules and regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure your safety.
- Bring Activities – Be prepared with a book to read, sleep-aids, music, or other items to keep you occupied during your trip. The last thing you need is to have nothing to do but worry during your flight.
- Travel with a Friend – Sometimes you just need someone by your side to assure you that it will be okay. Consider traveling with a friend or family member to ease your nerves.
- Upgrade Your Travel Insurance to Include a Cancel for Any Reason Benefit – Some travel insurance policies allow you to add a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit to your plan for an additional charge. A CFAR benefit will provide reimbursement for your unused, non-refundable, pre-paid deposits if you cancel your trip for a reason like getting cold feet about flying. Learn more about the CFAR benefit below.
Read more about how to overcome a fear of flying.
Some trip cancellation insurance plans provide an option to upgrade your benefits. One potential upgrade is the Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit. But what does this mean?
Your Trip Cancellation benefit will already cover you if you cancel your trip due to a covered reason listed in your policy documents. But what if you need to cancel for other reasons?
A CFAR benefit will provide reimbursement (sometimes up to 75%) of the unused, non-refundable, pre-paid payments or deposits you made for your trip. And this is if you cancel your trip for any reason!
Just make sure you read your plan’s policy documents and ensure you are following the correct procedures. For example, you may be required to cancel within a certain number of days prior to your trip to be eligible for CFAR coverage. The Atlas Enterprise plan from Nationwide and WorldTrips will reimburse you up to 75% for a cancelled trip, but you must cancel at least two days prior to your departure.
4. You Cancel After Hearing It Will Rain Every Day During Your Beach Vacation
Your trip cancellation policy may reimburse your pre-paid travel expenses if your destination is threatened by severe weather that causes your common carrier (airline company, cruise company, etc.) to shut down for a number of hours—often 24 hours or more.
You may also be reimbursed for cancellation if a natural disaster in your destination has rendered your accommodations uninhabitable. Minor inconveniences like rain showers are usually not a covered reason for cancellation.
Remember that some locations, including many Caribbean islands, experience showers every day during their rainy season. These showers are often brief and are less likely to impact your planned itinerary.
How to Avoid
Reduce the chance that your plans are impacted by weather conditions by noting these tips:
- Read Weather Predictions – Look at predicted weather conditions for your vacation destination before traveling. Also consider average temperatures and weather in your destination to help you gauge what to prepare for.
- Look at a Different Destination – You might look at other locations that aren’t in their rainy season or are less likely to have weather conditions that will impact your plans.
- Upgrade to Include a Cancel for Any Reason Benefit in Your Travel Insurance Plan – Your travel insurance provide may allow you to upgrade in order to add a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit to your plan. This upgrade could mean reimbursement for your unused, non-refundable, pre-paid trip deposits if you want to cancel for an uncovered reason. See more details in the CFAR section.
- Keep a Flexible Itinerary – Many minor weather situations that impact your plans will be only temporary. Consider rescheduling your activities around weather conditions. Just remember to be flexible when planning your itinerary.
5. You Miss Your Flight Because of Long Security Lines
There are several steps that you must take before boarding your plane:
1. Travel to the airport.
2. Check your luggage.
3. Print your ticket.
4. Get through security.
You could end up missing your flight if you don’t plan accordingly. Your travel insurance policy can provide many benefits, but you may not be covered if you show up too late to the airport.
How to Avoid
Frequent fliers know the benefits of arriving earlier rather than later to the airport. Here are a few ways to ease your stress of getting to your airline’s gate on time:
- Arrive Earlier Than You Think – A good rule of thumb is to arrive two hours before your flight plans to depart. Consider arriving even sooner during busy flying times or if you are flying out of a larger airport.
- Avoid Checked Bags – Save yourself some time by packing only carry-on luggage if you can. This allows you to completely skip the lines for baggage checking.
- Weigh Your Luggage at Home – If you need to check a bag, pick up a simple luggage weight to ensure your luggage is under the weight restriction before arriving at the airport. Save yourself time emptying your suitcase or dealing with over-weight fees by being prepared.
- Wear Slip-On Shoes – Expert fliers always consider what shoes they wear to the airport. Slip-on shoes can save time fumbling with laces, zippers, or buckles while getting through security. A quick shoe choice can save valuable minutes if you are running late.
6. You Show Up to Your Accommodations That Are Less Than Satisfactory, and You Decide to Stay Somewhere Else
Many Trip Cancellation benefits will provide coverage if you cancel your trip because a fire, flood, volcano, earthquake, hurricane, or another natural disaster has made your accommodations uninhabitable within a certain number of days of your departure.
Similarly, many Trip Interruption benefits will provide coverage if your trip is cut short because a natural disaster, like a flood, earthquake, or hurricane, has made your accommodations uninhabitable during your trip.
However, minor dissatisfaction with your accommodations isn’t usually a covered reason for interrupting your trip.
Review your plan’s policy documents to learn when your Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption benefits apply in these scenarios.
How to Avoid
You can often avoid dissatisfaction due to poor conditions or management by performing thorough research before booking your accommodations. Here’s what you can do to avoid the possibility of this happening:
- Ask for Recommendations – Family members and friends who have visited your destination can give you recommendations for where they stayed. Have the reassurance that they have seen it in person.
- Seek Out Online Reviews – Don’t just rely on a business’ website to know what your accommodations will look like. Seek reviews from other sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor to get more perspectives on what it’s really like to stay there.
- Use Reputable Rental Agencies – Agencies often have a set bar for the satisfaction of an accommodation by its visitors. Stick reputable rental aggregators like Airbnb, TripAdvisor, HomeToGo, and Hostel World.
Booking a hostel for your accommodations? Read Everything You Need to Know Before Staying at a Hostel.
7. You Purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance After Your Flight Is Cancelled
Remember your trip cancellation insurance will only begin on your coverage start date you’ve chosen (as long as we’ve received your payment). Those purchasing a policy after a cancellation will not receive reimbursement for their expenses prior to purchase.
How to Avoid
This mistake is avoidable by being more prepared for your trip. Here’s how you can do that:
- Purchase a Trip Cancellation Policy Sooner – It’s best to purchase your trip cancellation insurance sooner rather than later. This will allow you to feel more prepared if your trip must be cancelled beforehand. Plus, certain coverages and optional upgrades (like the Cancel for Any Reason benefit) may only be available if you purchase your plan within a certain number of days after you make your first trip payment.
- Read Your Plan’s Policy Documents – It’s important to read through your plan’s policy documents carefully to ensure you are fully aware of what your plan does and does not cover. Pay special attention to the conditions required for each benefit and the policy exclusions.
8. You Decide to Cancel Because You No Longer Think Your Travel Destination Is Safe
Your trip cancellation insurance will provide coverage for many benefits regarding your trip, but cancellation due to safety concerns often requires certain conditions to be met. For example, you may not be covered for cancellation due to health concerns threatening your destination unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a warning to avoid travel to your destination.
Many policies have conditions regarding terrorism, as well. For example, your Trip Cancellation benefit may only apply if you cancel a trip due to a terrorist act occurring in your destination within a certain number of days of your departure—and only if you are not provided an alternate itinerary.
Benefits and their conditions differ from policy to policy, so be sure to read the conditions and exclusions of your Trip Cancellation benefit carefully prior to purchase.
How to Avoid
Knowledge about your destination beforehand can help prevent any need to back out of a trip. Here’s what you can do to be more informed:
- Thoroughly Research – Know what kinds of risks you are willing to take and research what risks your destination may pose on you and your fellow travelers. This kind of information can help you feel more assured when settling on your destination.
- Stay Updated on Travel Warnings – Your trip cancellation insurance may provide coverage if a travel health warning is issued for your destination by the CDC after you purchase your coverage. (Many policies require a level 3 warning.) Be sure to read the conditions outlined in your plan and check the CDC website to stay up to date on travel warnings.
- Check Your Destination’s Travel Page – See your destination’s International Travel – Country Information page on the U.S. Department of State website for information on potential risks and other facts about your destination before booking. Take note of any travel advisories issued for your destination.
Need more information about travel advisories? Read more about what they mean regarding your international trip.
- Sign Up for Alerts – U.S. citizens can sign up for the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages regarding their destination.
- Upgrade Your Travel Insurance to Include a Cancel for Any Reason Benefit – Consider purchasing a travel insurance plan that allows you to add an optional Cancel for Any Reason benefit. This benefit can provide partial reimbursement for pre-paid, nonrefundable expenses in the event you don’t feel comfortable traveling to your destination.
Know Your Policy
It’s important to really know your trip cancellation insurance policy before purchasing. Reading through your plan’s policy documents will help you understand what your plan will cover and what expenses are excluded from coverage. Don’t forget that some policies allow you to purchase optional upgrades to add additional coverage for your trip. Consider those benefits too when deciding on your travel insurance.
Atlas Trip Cancellation plans feature customizable coverage for your trip. There are three plans to choose from: Atlas Excursion, Atlas Expedition, and Atlas Enterprise. Atlas Enterprise exclusively offers a Cancel for Any Reason benefit upgrade!