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Get Gephardt: How travel insurance might leave you stranded after cancellation or delay

Nov 2, 2022, 10:27 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2022, 9:03 am

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been a long year for air travel. Flight delays and cancellations have more than doubled this year compared to last year and there are still two months left. People buy travel insurance to cover vacations, but does it cover those delays and cancellations? 

You’re at the airport. You look up at the monitor and oh no! The dreaded “D word” – DELAYED. Or worse, the “C word” – CANCELED. 

Bad weather, airline and traffic control staffing shortages and many more people traveling: The reasons for this year’s surge in delays and cancellations are numerous and painful. 

By law, if the airline delays or cancels your flights they must compensate you but only for the flight, and that is hardly your only expense. You need to eat. Maybe a place to sleep. Maybe you need a car or a cab. For all that stuff and more, you are likely on your own unless you have travel Insurance.

“That’s going to reimburse you if you have to purchase additional meals or a hotel night,” said Meghan Walch of InsureMyTrip.com.

Walch said that travel insurance can reimburse those other expenses but read the fine print. Insurance companies avoid paying all the time by saying that the policy didn’t cover the thing you thought was covered. Travel insurance only reimburses if the reason the airline cites for canceling the flight is listed in the policy. 

Get Gephardt: Two Utahns get different compensation after airline cancels flight

One loophole that Walch says is snagging a lot of travelers right now is staffing shortages. That is not typically covered by insurance.

If the airline can’t get you on one of their own flights within 24 hours, trip cancellation insurance can help cover another carrier’s flight. But if you really want to cover yourself financially, consider Cancel for Any Reason Insurance. That covers you not only if the airline cancels you for any reason, but also should you choose to do so, say, during a global pandemic.

“There’s a spike in COVID where you’re going and there’s you know, you’re fearful to travel there,” Walch explained.

But it only works if you cancel two days before your trip. And once you are in the air, Cancel for Any Reason coverage doesn’t fly.

With so many exceptions, is travel insurance even worth it? Walch says it costs 4% to 10% of a trip, so for a $3,000 trip, you could expect to pay up to $300.   

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Get Gephardt: How travel insurance might leave you stranded after cancellation or delay