Travel Insurance: What To Know Before You Go


For many of us, preparing for the holidays involves rousting lights and wreaths from their attic lair, immersing ourselves in Ina Garten’s cardio-be-damned dessert recipes and judiciously tapping our myriad air miles for our annual journeys to share good cheer with family and friends.

While the news this past year has been filled with air travel snafus, near-misses and outright bizarre midair maladies and misfires, holiday flights are already filling up with what officials expect to be a record number of lunch-juggling, pet-toting, crazy-hat-wearing seasonal travelers.

Along with the sheer volume of arriving and departing passengers comes the added financial concern caused by missed flights and security delays. If you’ve never had the pleasure of spending the night at O’Hare or Heathrow, you can’t fully appreciate the pain of being billed for that deluxe downtown suite you so wish you were in right now!

While you’ll never make those airport Eames tandem slings feel anything less than miserable as a cot of last resort, travel insurance can relieve some of the painful sting that flight delays inflict on your wallet-parts.

According to the travel comparison site Squaremouth, most travel insurance policies include a travel delay benefit, which provides reimbursement for meals and accommodations should your trip hit an unexpected snag.

While the most common coverage triggers are flight delays due to inclement weather or mechanical issues, this benefit also may compensate you, depending on the policy, in the event you miss your flight for other covered reasons, including:

  • Lost or stolen passport, travel documents or money;
  • Traffic accident;
  • Road closure due to severe weather;
  • Strike or riot;
  • Quarantine;
  • Terrorism or hijacking;
  • Natural disaster; and
  • Documented weather condition that prevents you from arriving at the airport.

Policies also may specify per-person and per-day benefit limits, as well as a minimum delay of three to 12 hours before coverage kicks in.

As handy and affordable as flight delay coverage can be, most travel insurers are reluctant to pick up the tab for expenses you incur due to the sheer volume of holly jolly travelers in your queue.

“Travel delays are one of the most common claims during the holidays,” says Squaremouth spokesperson Rachael Taft. “Travel insurance can cover your expenses and help you get on with your trip in many of these situations, but even insured travelers need to plan ahead for longer security lines.”

Wherever your holiday travels may take you, remember Douglas Adams’s sage advice from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – “Don’t forget your towel.” And, if carry-on space permits, throw in a pillow, your best defense against unsightly Eames seams!

Photo credits:

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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