Watching the slow movement of Hurricane Dorian has me thinking about the “worst case scenario” and what to do if you have travel planned and something comes up.
I am a strong believer in trip insurance. That being said not all trip insurance is created equally and not all cases require the same coverage. We have had to cancel vacations for a range of reasons from the flu to someone in the hospital to being “too pregnant” to take a cruise, etc. Each situation is different and how to handle them varies.
Hotels: In the case of something like a Hurricane most hotels are offering penalty free cancellations. Also most major chains have fairly generous cancellation policies of no penalty if you cancel 48-72 hours out. If you need to cancel past the penalty free period, call the hotel directly and ask to speak to the manager on duty. They will have the best ability to accommodate you depending on your need. I also try to book with hotels directly as opposed to discount booking sites as you get better customer service and often earn other perks through their reward programs.
Flights: Check your airlines policies. Most airlines don’t want you flying if you have a contagious disease so if you have a letter from a doctor most airlines will let you cancel and use your credit within 12 months. If you need a refund this is where trip insurance comes in handy. I always buy my trip insurance from the airline when I book my ticket, that way I know I have adequate coverage.
Car Rentals: Most car rentals will let you cancel up to an hour before so trip insurance for car rentals is more about coverage if something happens while you have the car, not about canceling with no penalty.
Cruises: I’ve had both good and bad experiences. We had a family member with cancer and were told, “sorry you didn’t get trip insurance and you’ve paid in full so there is nothing we can do”. I also found out that I would be 3 weeks too pregnant to take a cruise per the cruise lines policy, got a doctors note and was refunded in full for my whole party including our flights which we booked through the cruise line. We did have trip insurance in this case and as we had to cancel due to the cruise line’s policy they even refunded that. Otherwise with cruises, until they are paid in full they are always refundable.
Other travel situations: There is a great site http://www.insuremytrip.com that lets you compare options and decide what is the best coverage for you.
Bottom line, know the policies and cover what you can not afford to not get back if you are unable to travel!