COVID-19 is once again creating havoc with travel plans, but this time it's the Delta Variant that's causing the problems. Some travelers who have had reservations for months are now seeing cancellations or threats of cancellations. Others simply don't feel comfortable traveling with the newest variant raging. When this situation happens to you, what should you do? Here’s a guide to dealing with the situation, assuming you have purchased travel protection.
1. Check your travel insurance policy to understand the covered reasons for canceling a trip.
People who buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation benefits sometimes assume that it’s “cancel for any reason” insurance — they think they can cancel a trip for any reason and get their money back. That’s not how trip cancellation benefits work, however. Don’t cancel your trip before finding out if your lost expenses will be covered by your travel insurance!
If you look at your plan documents, you’ll see a long list of covered reasons for trip cancellation (and trip interruption). Covered reasons are the specifically named situations or events that can be covered under your insurance policy, and these reasons may change depending on the plan you buy. For example, premier plans usually cover more situations than a company's basic plans.
2. Make sure you meet the stated requirements for trip cancellation.
For example, on the morning of your planned departure, you wake up with chills, nausea and a fever. You’re feeling so terrible that you decide to cancel the trip. You’ll get your money back- right?
First, you must make sure your trip cancellation meets all the requirements. Your policy says that illness can be a covered reason for trip cancellation, if it’s disabling enough to make a reasonable person cancel their trip; and if a doctor advises you to cancel. Usually, a doctor must either examine or consult with you within 72 hours after your trip cancellation to confirm the decision to cancel. You also need to notify your travel advisor or all your suppliers- such as the cruise line, airline, and excursion operators-within 72 hours of discovering that you will need to cancel your trip.
3. Do your best to reschedule cancelled flights.
Sometimes, a trip starts off on the wrong foot when bad weather or some other emergency delays your departure. If your flight is canceled, or you’re otherwise delayed, don’t give up on your trip right away! You need to make all reasonable efforts to start, catch up to, or continue your journey.
Always contact the 24-hour assistance team at your insurance company. They may be able to help you find an alternate way to get to your destination. Your trip cancellation benefits can even reimburse you for the reasonable cost of the alternate transportation, as well as the cost of any lost prepaid accommodations caused by your delayed arrival.
Remember, too, that travel insurance can help make travel delays bearable. If your trip is delayed for a covered reason (by the minimum number of hours stated in your policy document), then travel delay benefits can reimburse you for meals, accommodation, communication, and transportation costs caused by the delay. If you purchased a Premier Plan, you can usually receive a fixed daily payment for a covered travel delay. No receipts for purchases are required; all you need is proof of your covered delay.
If you’re truly stuck- that is, your travel carrier cannot get you to your destination for at least 24 hours from the originally scheduled arrival time, then that can be a covered reason for trip cancellation as long as it's a reason listed in your policy.
4. Remember that travel insurance can help if your travel companion has to cancel.
What if you’ve planned a week-long cruise with a friend or relative, and they're the one who gets seriously ill before your departure? The illness of a traveling companion can be a covered reason for trip cancellation (subject to the same requirements, as described in your policy). However, you don’t have to cancel your trip. If your companion stays home, trip cancellation benefits can reimburse you for extra accommodation fees the cruise line might charge (such as a single supplement fee) if you prepaid for a shared cabin.
5. Document and save everything.
To file a trip cancellation claim, you'll need to submit documentation that shows why your trip was cancelled and the total amount you need to be reimbursed. Save every email and piece of paper related to your trip, including:
Receipts and itemized bills for all expenses.
Original copy of any refunds received from your tour operator, travel agency, travel supplier, resort, or property management company.
A copy of your resort invoice/vacation rental contract or confirmation.
Any appropriate documentation that officially explains the cause of your trip cancellation or interruption.
Any explanation of medical diagnosis along with your original itemized bills, receipts, and proof of other insurance payments.
Original unused tickets, copies of invoices, proof of payments, and other documents that prove the cost or occurrence of the trip cancellation or interruption.
Documentation of refunds received.
A copy of the supplier's literature that describes penalties.
A letter from the tour operator or an itemized bill from the travel advisor stating the non-refundable amounts of the trip costs.
Don’t wait too long to file a claim with your insurance company. You only have 90 days from the date of your loss to file.
Are you covered in case of an unexpected trip cancellation? Always protect yourself and your travel investment with trip insurance products.