But, the standard cancellation benefit doesn’t allow you to cancel for any reason.
This is an important distinction that catches a lot of insured travelers off guard. Many think that just because they have trip cancellation with their policy, they can cancel their trip any time and for any reason.
‘Cancel for any reason’ coverage is a catch-all benefit that lets you cancel your trip and receive between 50 and 100% (depending on the plan) of your trip costs back – no questions asked.
Here are travelers’ stories ripped right from our comment board. In every case, ‘cancel for any reason’ would have saved these travelers a lot of heartache and hard-earned cash.
1. The bridge washed away and the ferries are full
Last year, after Hurricane Irene passed, the only way for travelers to get to Hatteras, North Carolina was by ferry – but the ferries were completely full! Many travelers with vacation rentals lost thousands of their vacation dollars because they simply couldn’t get to the island.
‘Cancel for any reason’ would have helped these travelers cancel their trip and get a refund.
2. Your best friend is in an accident or dies
When one traveler’s best friend committed suicide back home, she wanted to cancel her trip to be with her friend’s family.
Travel insurance plans allow for pre-departure trip cancellations and post-departure trip interruptions when covered family members are ill. The list of family members that are covered is in the plan’s description of coverage. No travel insurance plan, however, covers friends, neighbors, and other people close to you.
3. An epidemic of the flu breaks out
One traveler cancelled his trip because he had a case of the stomach flu. Not only that, his entire family was stricken with it and he didn’t want to leave them on their own.
Every insurance plan has exclusions, and travel insurance is no different. If you are canceling your trip due to illness, that illness must be verified by a physician. It must occur while the policy is in effect, and the illness must be so disabling as to prevent you from taking your covered trip.
As awful as the flu is, it might not fit these criteria unless verified by a doctor. ‘Cancel for any reason’, however, would have gotten this traveler his money back.
4. A terrorist plot is uncovered
One traveler was scheduled to visit Syria and Lebanon in the spring of 2011. The potential for terrorist attacks and a U.S. State Department travel warning for Syria made this traveler reconsider and cancel their trip.
Standard trip cancellation benefits only cover actual terrorist events that occur within a certain number of days prior to your departure. Those attacks must also occur at your destination – not nearby.
If terrorist concerns make you want to cancel your trip, ‘cancel for any reason’ is your way out.
5. Your pet is ill or dying
When you have a pet that’s close to you and they get very ill or injured, it’s natural to want to cancel your trip to care for them. As this traveler noted, her pet was considered a member of the family and these are not the kind of emergencies people can predict.
Unfortunately, travel insurance plans don’t include pets in their list of covered family members. Of course, ‘cancel for any reason’ would have gotten this traveler the reimbursement they expected.
6. Your kid has summer college commitments
Another family discovered they should have purchased ‘cancel for any reason’ when they had to cancel their summer trip after their child discovered he had unexpected summer school commitments.
While some standard trip cancellation benefits will cover school year extensions, none of them will cover this scenario.
7. Your nanny was deported
One traveler wrote to us complaining that they had to cancel their trip because their nanny (who would have been caring for the children on their trip) was deported for writing a bad check. This traveler wanted a refund on the nanny’s portion of the travel expenses.
Unfortunately, being deported is not a covered reason for cancelling a person’s trip and nannies are not covered members of the family for most travel insurance policies.
It’s important to note that ‘cancel for any reason’ (just like other benefit) has a number of rules:
- travelers must purchase it within a certain number of days of their initial trip payment
- travelers must insure 100% of their pre-paid travel arrangements
- a few plans have per-person maximum limits
- any amounts refunded by a travel supplier are deducted from the reimbursement
- the cancellation must occur within a certain number of days prior to departure
- the reimbursement may be subject to cancellation penalties
Read our review of ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage and get a list of companies and plans that include this coverage. Be sure to read the restrictions for each plan’s coverage so you understand it.