First, let’s take a look at what exactly are your winter travel risks. Winter storms are not generally predictable more than a week in advance (neither are summer storms, in fact), so travelers need to plan ahead to avoid spending the night crammed in an airport chair (those don’t recline you know). Travelers also have to prepare ahead to avoid forfeiting their entire vacation deposit because they are stranded due to flight cancellations during a storm.
Every year, winter blizzards and snow storms cause thousands of travelers to endure flight cancellations, delays, and mishandled luggage. According to the U.S. Weather Service, this winter is expected to be significantly colder and wetter than usual.
So when winter weather impacts a vacation or business trip, it’s helpful to have these travel insurance coverage benefits on hand to cover the following risks:
- Missed nights. Ski resorts and hotels will not usually refund your deposit for late arrivals or cancellations. Travel insurance will reimburse you for those lost non refundable costs if the trip is delayed or interrupted due to heavy snow or closed roads. If the airport is closed and you can’t arrive on time, travel insurance will refund you for your lost nights and help you find and pay for a hotel where you can wait out the delay.
- Flight cancellations. When the airlines cancel flights due to weather, they are no longer responsible for what happens to you. Their only job is to reschedule your flight and allow you to rebook. Travel insurance will reimburse you for the unused portion of your air ticket, letting you rebook at your convenience.
- Travel alternatives. If flights are grounded, you may be competing with hundreds – even thousands – of other travelers who all want the same thing at the same time – nearby hotel rooms and rescheduled flights. Calling your travel insurance assistance services team can help you locate and reserve hotel accommodations ahead of the pack. They can also find alternative transportation and reschedule your flights if your trip is disrupted due to severe weather.
- Unexpected costs. When you have to overnight in a hotel because your flight is cancelled, that’s just one of the unexpected expenses you’ll face. There is also taxi costs, meal costs, and more. With travel insurance, you’ll have a daily reimbursement for those costs if your trip is interrupted or delayed by a winter storm.
To be sure you are protected on your winter trips, we recommend the following:
- Purchase your trip insurance soon after paying for your trip. Many policies waive pre-existing medical conditions when you purchase the plan within a certain number of days of booking your trip, so don’t wait.
- Print an extra copy of your travel vouchers, receipts, and confirmations in case you need to file a claim.
- Read the policy when it comes in so you know what’s covered. All policies have a review period (usually 10-14 days) in which you can make changes or cancel your policy.
- Keep a copy of your policy with you and record the toll free number in your phone so it’s handy when you need to call it on your trip.
- Be sure to get written proof that your trip is delayed or cancelled due to bad weather. Airlines routinely provide this documentation upon request.