Every year, winter weather causes 60,000 flight cancellations — and that’s just in the United States. Iced-over wings, frozen cargo doors, and snowy runways all can cause an airline to cancel or delay takeoff.1
What can you do (besides postpone your travel until spring)? The best way to protect yourself from winter travel havoc is to buy travel insurance. When you look through your plan documents, you’ll see several ways in which travel insurance protects you in case of severe weather (such as snowstorms or ice storms). Insurance can also help in case your travel plans are affected by a natural disaster, which we define as a large-scale extreme weather or environmental event that damages property, disrupts transportation or utilities, or endangers people.
We’ll take a look at what travel insurance can cover when the snow starts to fly. If you don’t yet have insurance for your next trip, now’s the best time to get a quote!
Does Travel Insurance Cover Travel Delays Caused by Winter Weather?
Yes, it can. If your travel insurance plan includes travel delay benefits, you can be reimbursed for lost prepaid trip expenses; necessary eligible expenses like meals, accommodation and transportation; and extra transportation expenses to help you catch up with your cruise or tour, if the delay made you miss its departure. The delay must meet the minimum length threshold and be caused by a covered reason, such as a travel carrier delay, a natural disaster, or roads being closed due to severe weather.
If your plan includes SmartBenefitsSM, you’re in luck! With SmartBenefitsSM, you can opt to receive a fixed inconvenience payment of $100 per insured person, per day, for a covered travel delay (up to the maximum no-receipts limit). No receipts are required — just proof of a covered delay.
Even better, you can choose to receive this payment automatically if your covered travel delay occurs on a flight monitored by Allianz Global Assistance. Submit your flight itinerary online before you travel. Then, if we detect a covered delay due to winter weather or another covered reason, we’ll notify you and ask how you want to receive your money. Please note that proactive payments aren’t available for canceled flights. You still can file a no-receipts claim for $100/person/day, if a flight cancellation results in an eligible covered travel delay.
Can Travel Insurance Cover Trip Cancellations Caused by Winter Weather?
Yes — severe weather can be a covered reason for canceling your trip. Specifically, travel insurance can cover your trip cancellation if your travel carrier can’t get you to your original destination for at least 24 consecutive hours because of a natural disaster, severe weather or another covered reason.
So if a blizzard cancels all flights leaving your local airport for 24 hours or more, you could decide to cancel your entire trip and file a claim to be reimbursed for your prepaid, nonrefundable, unused trip costs.
However, you don’t have to cancel your trip if you can figure out another way to get there! Your trip cancellation benefits can reimburse you for the reasonable cost of alternate transportation. Let’s say an ice storm causes Amtrak to cancel all trains to Boston, where you had planned to spend the weekend. But the buses are still running, so your insurance covers the cost of your ticket.
Trip interruption benefits can apply if you miss at least 50% of the length of your trip due to a travel carrier delay, a natural disaster, roads being closed or impassable due to severe weather, or another covered reason. See your plan documents for details.
How Else Can Travel Insurance Protect You From Severe Winter Weather?
When snow and ice strike, chaos often results. If winter weather messes up your vacation, can travel insurance help?
Sometimes! Let’s take a look at a few scenarios.
- Because of icy roads, you total your car on the way to the airport. If you or a traveling companion is in a traffic accident (not including a breakdown) on your departure or return date, that can be a covered reason for trip cancellation or interruption. See your plan for details.
- While you’re on vacation, an ice storm knocks out the power in your neighborhood. Your pipes freeze, and now your house is flooded. If your primary residence is uninhabitable, that can be a covered reason for trip cancellation or trip interruption.
- A snow storm brings down a tree on top of your mountain vacation rental, smashing the roof. If your destination is uninhabitable, that can be a covered reason for trip cancellation or trip interruption.
Travel insurance can’t cover trip interruptions or trip cancellations if bad weather simply puts a damper on your plans. Let’s say you planned a week in Vail, but you want to cut the trip short because a blizzard has closed the ski slopes. That’s a bummer, but it’s not a covered reason for trip interruption.
Also, keep in mind that travel insurance can’t cover any losses caused by a winter storm if you purchase your plan after the storm becomes a known threat. So if the National Weather Service issues a warning because Winter Storm Alberto is bearing down on your destination, and only then do you buy travel insurance, your plan won’t provide coverage for claims related to that storm.
Check Allianz Global Assistance’s Coverage Alerts for an up-to-date list of storms, natural disasters and other events around the world, along with the date each event became “known and foreseeable” for travel insurance purposes.
To maximize your protection from losses due to severe winter weather — or any other covered reason — you should purchase insurance as soon as you make your travel plans. Allianz Global Assistance makes it easy.