Savvy travelers don’t just check the weather forecast. They consult historical meteorological data and scour the Farmer’s Almanac for guidance as to when to book getaways.
And they don’t just purchase travel insurance. They carefully review and read their plans as they pertain to potential weather-related trip cancellation.
Like many of the covered reasons that cause trip cancellation benefits to kick in, weather-related claims need to pass muster with a few sensible conditions before any of your prepaid, non-refundable expenses can be reimbursed.
For starters, you can’t use travel insurance if you don’t have it. Plans need to be purchased before any inclement weather becomes a “foreseeable event.” Makes sense, right? After all, you can’t buy car insurance as you’re eyeballing the red light you’re about to drive through. If a hurricane or a nor’easter is named, it’s too late. Just a small point of clarity: Even if a gathering storm has been spotted and named, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy trip insurance. It just means that your pre-paid, nonrefundable costs can’t be reimbursed if you have to cancel due to that specific storm, i.e., the one with the same name.1
OK, with the picture a little clearer, let’s look at some popular scenarios in which travelers may wish to invoke weather-related trip cancellation. We’ll even make it fun and interactive, assigning a forecast according to how likely these circumstances are to result in having any pre-paid, nonrefundable trip costs being reimbursed through a weather-related trip cancellation.
Scenario: Tropical Depression Nolan is depressing your Spring Break plans for a pampered getaway in Acapulco that’s just days away. It’s supposed to bring wind and rain smack dab above your all-inclusive resort. The beaches will be empty. But your hotel is open…
Forecast for Approved Weather-Related Cancellation: Cloudy with a certainty of “no.” Here is the thing: for a travel insurance plan to cover a weather-related cancellation, your airline, cruise line, or tour operator or travel supplier must stop offering all services for at least 24 consecutive hours where you're departing, arriving or making a connection. In this case, your hotel is open. And as long as your flights and ground transportation aren’t effected, neither is your trip status in the eyes of travel insurance. It’s just a case of bad timing and worse luck. But the good news is that the spa is open — and they don’t stop blending margaritas when it rains.1
Scenario: Your Breckenridge ski vacation outside of Boulder, Colorado starts tomorrow. You got a cheap room by booking in April. Only problem? It’s 85F and sunny — a record high and freak meteorological occurrence. (This is especially surprising considering the resort’s nickname is “Breckenfridge,” a nod to its cold temps and high winds.) Your flights are on time and the resort is open. The ski report is… well, there isn’t one. All the trails are closed and have been for a week. Both the room and ski passes are both non-refundable…2
Forecast for Approved Weather-Related Cancellation: Gloomy and bored. While the mountain is closed, it’s not technically a travel supplier. The resort is one — and it’s open. You should look to the resort for supplying a reimbursement. As for passing your time, how about a jog or a hike? It is gorgeous out, after all…
Scenario: While you’re packing to escape your mid-western winter that seems stolen from the Planet Hoth scene in “Empire Strikes Back,” a pipe freezes and floods your home. And while you’d like to hightail it to someplace warm and sunny right now, you have to stick around to deal with the upheaval, talking 24/7 with your insurance company and home restoration company. You will be staying at a hotel, but it will be 1 mile away from your house — and also be snow-covered — not flanking a Tiki bar and beach volleyball court. But there is free breakfast, so you have that going for you.
Forecast for Approved Weather-Related Cancellation: Bright and sunny. If your primary residence is determined to be uninhabitable because of a natural disaster, fire, flood, burglary or vandalism, then this is considered a covered reason for trip cancellation. And it’s a good thing, because who can relax and unwind on the beach when workers in biohazard suits are knocking down your walls with sledgehammers 1,200 miles away?3
Weather-related trip cancellations are a funny thing. Other than storm chasers and umbrella salesmen, no one really wishes for bad weather, right? But you might find yourself hoping for really bad weather vs. plain old bad weather if the difference is shuttering your destination or means of getting there, producing a covered reason for trip cancellation.
Remember, always read your plan to determine whether or not you may be covered for trip cancellation before cancelling your trip. We cannot stress this enough. All plans are different.
If you do experience a covered reason for trip cancellation, interruption or delay, the travel insurance benefits can be wide ranging. Depending on the circumstances, these can include eligible travel costs for departing your destination early, such as flight, hotel and meal costs. Don’t forget, sometimes you just need some eyes in the sky during the storm of the century or even some extra thick fog. Travel insurance providers such as Allianz Global Assistance have highly dependable concierge and assistance services you can dial up to help you navigate any inclement weather.1
So stop watching the Weather Channel. And go out and explore the world!