The best-laid travel plans don’t always come to pass, and that’s especially true when it comes to departing on a long-awaited trip. All kinds of things can cause a delay to your planned trip, and trip delay insurance covers you for brief and unexpected delays to the start of your trip.
It’s important to know what kinds of scenarios are covered by travel delay coverage, as well as how this type of coverage differs from other common elements of a good travel insurance policy. When you have a good understanding of what travel insurance covers, you’ll be best positioned to be eligible for benefits if your plans go awry.
What does trip delay mean?
Trip delay insurance generally reimburses you for expenses you incur if you’re delayed a defined period of time.
Keep in mind that the delay you’re making a claim for must meet the minimum duration as defined by your policy. For example, if being delayed for 12 hours or overnight means you missed your next flight, that may be covered by your policy. Whereas a short delay of just 45 minutes may not.
Trip delay insurance can also cover the costs of an unexpected hotel room, meals, or local transportation as a result of a delay.
Again, any delay would have to meet the exclusions and conditions of your policy and fall under a covered reason. In addition, any reimbursement would be subject to a maximum limit determined by the insurance company.
So be sure to keep your reasonable expenses within the policy’s agreed limit, and don’t rack up a huge bill on your credit cards as you wait out your delay. If you do, you may not be reimbursed for all of it.
Don’t forget that almost every travel insurance plan includes 24-hour assistance services, so if you’re delayed and you need help finding a hotel or making alternate travel arrangements, you can call for help.
The reason for the delay to your trip has to be one of the covered reasons as defined by your insurance plan. These may include situations like your flight being grounded due to a mechanical issue, a strike, natural disaster, civil unrest, your travel documents being lost or stolen, or inclement weather disrupting travel. Keep in mind that if, say, you missed your flight because you arrived late to the airport, this may not be covered by travel delay insurance as it was within your control.
Does travel insurance cover flight delays?
If your trip is delayed due to the fault of an airline — a staffing shortage, overbooking a flight, or something similar — you can’t always expect that the carrier will reimburse you for all related costs. What you’re entitled to claim from the airline will vary by carrier, circumstance, and whether or not you’re in the U.S. or somewhere else, so don’t rely on it as the ultimate failsafe.
If you’ve purchased trip delay coverage, it’s more likely that one way or another, you’ll be able to claim benefits for a delayed flight — be it from the airline or your insurance company. Since flight delays are very common, you don’t want to lose money on your extra expenses if the carrier decides you’re not entitled to reimbursement.
What is the difference between trip interruption and trip delay?
There are all kinds of ways your planned trip schedule can be disrupted — from delay to interruption to outright cancellation — and thus there are different kinds of insurance plans for each. Trip cancellation is for situations when your trip cannot go forward at all, and you file a claim to recoup as much as possible of your trip cost.
This is not to be confused with cancel for any reason coverage, which allows you to cancel your trip for any reason and recover a percentage of your non-refundable trip costs.
Trip interruption coverage comes into play when your trip is already underway, but you have to end your trip early due to illness, accident, or some other unforeseen event.
Understanding the difference between each of these scenarios — and ensuring you have coverage for each of them — will help ensure that no matter what happens to your trip you are not totally out of pocket for expenses. Once it comes time to time to fill out a claim form, you’ll hopefully benefit from all the protection of your policy and receive a reimbursement from your insurance company.