Nov 14, 2016
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Travel Resources

How To Use Your Trip Delay Benefit and When To Cancel

You're sitting in an airport, watching your flight status switch from "on time" to "delayed" to "canceled." Great. Your trip is ruined before it even begins.

If you're an experienced traveler, you know that sinking feeling you get when a trip delay strands you. The best way to protect yourself is to purchase travel insurance that includes trip interruption and trip cancellation insurance. But how can insurance help, and when should you give up and cancel your trip?

Don't Make Trip Cancellation Insurance Your First Option

You and your husband are taking the trip of a lifetime for your 25th wedding anniversary: a 6-day river cruise down the Danube River. On the day of your departure from New York City, a freak early-spring blizzard blows in and strands all planes. You're supposed to be in Budapest tomorrow afternoon to board your ship, but the airline just announced tomorrow's flights are all full. You have trip cancellation insurance — should you call off the trip?

If you experience a hiccup in your travel plans, you need to make every effort to continue your scheduled trip. In order to make a trip cancellation claim, you must have lost more than 50 percent of your scheduled trip length due to a covered travel delay — and you must have made a good-faith effort to continue your travels. Ask yourself, “What would I do if I didn’t have travel insurance?” If you knew you'd lose your entire investment in your European cruise, you'd try your hardest to catch up with the ship.

Here's what you need to do if your trip is delayed:

  1. Don't panic. In almost every scenario, there's a way to get your travel plans back on track. Even if your cruise or tour has already departed, it's possible to catch up at the next port or stop. If you're feeling angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, try to regain your calm. Airline representatives will try harder to help you if you're patient and polite.
  2. Call Allianz Global Assistance's 24-hour hotline assistance at 1-800-654-1908 (from the U.S.) or 1-804-281-5700 (collect). Remember that if you have travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance, you're not traveling alone. While the travel experts on the Allianz Global Assistance hotline cannot pay travel costs up front, they can provide numbers for airlines and help you make new travel arrangements. The hotline staff will also document that you called for help rescheduling your travel, so if you end up having to cancel your trip they'll have evidence of your efforts to continue.
  3. Be willing to go out of your way. The best way to get to your final destination may be taking the long way around. That could mean flying from New York City to St. Louis in order to reach Charlotte, N.C. Is it annoying? Sure. But it's better to arrive at your destination late than not at all. When you're trying to reschedule a flight, explain that you're willing to take any route. Your airline may even accommodate you by placing you on a competitor's plane.
  4. Document your efforts. Remember that trip cancellation insurance requires you to show you made a good faith effort to continue your trip. That's why it's important to write down details like when your flight was canceled, when you spoke to airline representatives and what they said.

When Trip Cancellation Insurance Will Cover Your Delayed Trip

Let's go back to the river cruise scenario. With the help of Allianz Global Assistance’s hotline staff, you're able to get on a new flight from New York City to Paris the next day. You're too late to catch your cruise ship in Budapest, so you book a flight to the next port of call: Vienna, Austria. That's when bad luck strikes a second time: Mechanical issues ground your flight, and the next plane available doesn't leave until the evening. By the time you arrive, your ship has already sailed.

This is when trip cancellation insurance may kick in. If you miss more than half the total length of your trip because your travel was delayed due to a covered reason — including strike, common carrier delay, natural disaster, quarantine, a lost passport, hijacking or civil unrest — then you may be able to make a trip cancellation claim.

Before you cancel your trip, however, it's wise to check in with your insurer. Confirm that more than 50 percent of your trip has been missed and that your policy includes coverage for trip cancellation. Also, be sure to notify all your travel providers and your insurer as soon as possible once you cancel.

How Travel Insurance Helps When You Have a Trip Delay

Allianz Global Assistance’s travel insurance includes many more benefits than just trip cancellation insurance. Depending on which plan you choose, these benefits may include:

  • Trip interruption insurance worth up to 150 percent of the cost of your trip to help you continue your journey or return home early.
  • Missed connection coverage to help you continue your trip after missing a connecting flight or cruise.
  • Trip delay coverage to reimburse you for meals, accommodations and lost prepaid expenses if your trip is delayed more than six hours.
  • Baggage delay coverage to reimburse you for essential items purchase because your bags were delayed at least 24 hours.
  • Frequent traveler/loyalty plan coverage to cover fees related to redepositing your miles or points.

Always read your policy documents carefully so you understand your coverage, and call Allianz Global Assistance if you have any questions. Safe — and swift — travels!