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The Essential Guide to Travel Insurance for Winter Travel

winter travel
Allianz - winter travel

Slippery roads. Icy runways. Snowed-in trains. Winter weather is especially good at messing up your travel plans! That's why if you're traveling during the winter months, travel insurance is a must.

Travel insurance in the winter can protect you in a few important ways. One, travel insurance can reimburse you for travel costs if your travel is delayed, changed, interrupted or canceled for a covered reason. And two, travel insurance can provide emergency medical and dental benefits, as well as emergency medical transportation benefits, in case you're injured in a covered accident.

Before you leave for your holiday getaway, ski trip or weekend in an ice hotel, make sure you have travel insurance — and make sure you know what it covers. Here are few key things to know.

1. Purchase Travel Insurance As Soon As You Book Your Trip

Problems caused by severe weather can be a covered reason for trip cancellations, trip interruptions or trip delays (check your specific plan for details.) This can be a lifesaver if a winter storm forces you to pause or cut short your trip, or prevents you from getting to your destination in the first place.

However, you can't wait to purchase travel insurance until a mega-blizzard is on the horizon. Like any other kind of insurance, travel insurance is meant to offer protection against sudden and unforeseen situations and events. Once the National Weather Service issues a warning for a storm or hurricane, it is considered a foreseeable event. Policies purchased on or after the warning date do not cover losses related to that event.

Not sure when a winter storm or other weather event became foreseeable? Check our Coverage Alerts page. You’ll see the date an event became “known and foreseeable” listed next to each event.

Learn more: How Does Travel Insurance Cover Winter Storms?

2. Don't Abandon Your Travel Plans After a Delay

Let’s say a big winter storm delays your Thursday flight to Miami, where you were planning to soak up the sun for a long weekend. The airline tells you it won't be able to get you there until Friday. “Well, forget it!” you say. You'll just stay home.

Don't give up yet! It’s true that if severe weather prevents your travel carrier from getting you to your destination for at least 24 consecutive hours after your original arrival time, that can be a covered reason for trip cancellation. But did you know that if you can reach your original destination another way, your trip cancellation benefits can reimburse you for the cost of the alternative transportation and the cost of any lost prepaid accommodations (like an unused hotel night)? The alternate transportation has to be reasonable, of course; you can’t book a Lyft from Boston to Miami.

The moral of the story: Don't just give up on your entire trip if you experience a flight delay related to winter weather, no matter how frustrated you feel. You can always contact our Assistance team for help making alternate travel arrangements, by phone or via the free TravelSmart app.

3. Miss Your Train or Plane Because of Winter Weather? Change Fee Coverage Can Help.

You thought 30 minutes was plenty of time to get to the airport on a snowy Sunday morning. Then, you see a sea of red taillights on the highway. You’re never going to make it in time to catch your flight.

It’s OK! If you have change fee coverage, it can reimburse you for fees incurred to change your travel arrangements if you or a traveling companion are delayed because roads are closed or impassable due to severe weather. Just remember: if you're faced with a situation where bad weather is imminent, you need to add extra time into your itinerary to ensure you're able to travel as planned.

4. Travel Insurance Can Help You Deal With Winter Travel Delays.

Chicago O’Hare International, New York La Guardia Airport and Denver International Airport are among the nation's worst airports for winter delays, according to The Weather Channel.1 If you end up stranded because of severe weather, remember that travel insurance with trip delay benefits can reimburse you for meals, accommodations and lost prepaid expenses if your trip's delayed for the time specified in your plan.

If your travel insurance plan includes SmartBenefitsSM, you can opt to receive a fixed inconvenience payment of $100 per insured person, per day, for a covered travel delay or baggage delay (up to the maximum no-receipts limit). No receipts required — just proof of a covered delay. So if snow or ice grounds your flight, you can enjoy your unplanned break — and you don't have to spend the night curled up on the airport floor or filming your own Celine Dion airport music video, like this guy did.

5. Play it Safe on the Slopes.

If your planned trip includes skiing or snowboarding, travel insurance with emergency medical and dental benefits and emergency transportation benefits is a must. These benefits can reimburse you for the cost of covered emergency medical or dental care, and/or medical transportation, if you have an accident on the slopes.

But if you're planning to try backcountry skiing from a helicopter at Kicking Horse in British Columbia, or running the triple-black-diamond Black Hole trail at Smugglers' Notch in Vermont,2 know this: Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance does not cover losses related to extreme skiing, heli-skiing or skiing outside marked trails.

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