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As 2020 demonstrated, you never know what could squash your travel plans.
“In 2020, not only did we see unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by countries and airlines, but also a record year as far as named tropical storms and hurricanes during the summer and fall, says Robert Gallagher, COO of AIG Travel.
If you’re planning a great vacation—and we hope you are—be aware of seasonal problems that could affect you both at home and at your destination, especially bad weather.
“The unexpected can happen any time of the year when traveling so there really is not a season where travel insurance is not recommended,” says Christine Buggy, a spokesperson for Travelex Insurance Services. “Travel insurance can provide coverage for weather events that pop up year-round. This is particularly important when visiting a destination that is prone to weather events such as hurricanes or winter storms.”
For coverage through all the seasons, Buggy suggests you purchase travel insurance as soon as you’ve made the first payment on your trip. “The earlier you purchase, the sooner you have coverage to protect your trip,” she says. “If you, or a fellow traveler, were to become seriously ill or injured prior to your departure date, having an insurance policy in place for weeks—if not months—in advance could enable you to cancel your trip without losing all of your money spent.”
And if severe weather causes problems either at your home location or at your destination, travel insurance will cover money lost if you have to cancel or delay the trip.
Buggy notes that you must purchase travel insurance before an event is foreseeable in order to get coverage. For example, a hurricane is foreseeable on the date it becomes a named storm.
Travelex Insurance maintains a handy list of travel alerts that could impact travel plans, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorism, wildfires and tornadoes.
Travelex has provided these examples of how time of year can affect travel insurance claims.
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If your home or destination is uninhabitable or inaccessible due to a tornado, trip cancellation and interruption insurance provides reimbursement for pre-paid, non-refundable trip payments for the unused portion of the trip.
If your flight is delayed due to a tornado, travel delay coverage will reimburse you for extra costs such as hotel, transportation and meals. Check the policy for the maximum travel delay reimbursement and how long the delay needs to be in order to make a claim. Remember to save all your receipts.
If you miss a connecting flight due to a tornado, travel insurance can reimburse you for extra expenses.
Spring floods & summer wildfires
If your home or hotel is uninhabitable or inaccessible due to a flood or wildfire, a trip cancellation and interruption benefit will reimburse you for pre-paid, non-refundable trip payments for the unused part of the trip.
Hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical cyclones
If you’re planning a vacation during hurricane season (June through November), consider travel insurance, especially if you’ll be in the Caribbean and Atlantic waters, says Buggy. “While you certainly can travel safely during hurricane season, we advise you to do your homework and be prepared for the unexpected,” she says.
If your home or resort is uninhabitable or inaccessible due to the named hurricane, you can make a claim on trip cancellation or interruption benefits. This will reimburse you for the unused part of your trip that you lose in non-refundable deposits.
If your flight is delayed because of a hurricane, you can look for travel delay benefits to reimburse you for hotels and meals that you have to pay for during the wait.
Winter skiing and snowboarding
Winter sports can mean painful injuries. If you fall on the slopes and break your leg, travel insurance can provide:
If a winter storm forces your trip to be canceled or interrupted, travel insurance will provide reimbursement for the non-refundable parts of the trip that you didn’t use.
It can also cover delayed flights and missed connections due to winter storms. Save your receipts for the extra expenses you incur because of the delay.
Other Travel Insurance Benefits
Trip cancellation/delay and travel medical benefits are often the most important coverage types in a travel insurance policy. But don’t overlook other good benefits as well, such as baggage delay and loss coverage.
See Forbes Advisor’s ratings of the best travel insurance companies.