How to Buy Flight Cancellation Insurance

canceled

As American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights through October, passengers were left scrambling for alternate flights or airlines to handle their travel plans. Those actually flying experienced more flight delays than normal too. Savvy passengers with travel insurance came out on top though, thanks to a normally unused feature common to many policies.

Blame it on American Airlines bankruptcy issues, labor problems, maintenance problems or layoffs, in a week’s time the troubled airline had canceled about 300 flights, mostly in and out of Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) airport.

“Prior to the recent issues, American had been running a good operation, with on-time performance and reliability measures at their best levels in many years,” American Airlines spokesman Bruce Hicks said in an LA Times story. “The recent disruptions are primarily due to the significant increase in maintenance write-ups by our pilots, many right at the time of departure.”

It’s a situation totally out of the control of passengers but one that can be made a bit easier to swallow with some basic travel insurance that covers flight delays or cancellations and, most importantly right now, offers traveler assistance.Travel Guard, for example, has a single trip plan and an annual plan for frequent travelers.

Their Savvy Traveler plan covers trip cancellation, interruption and delay, emergency medical treatment or evacuation, lost, stolen or damaged baggage or personal effects and baggage delay on any one given trip. The cost? About $25 for a $500 flight in October.

Frequent fliers can get Annual Travel Insurance for personal or business travel that covers trips or vacations throughout the year. This one includes everything from trip cancellation and interruption to unannounced strikes, weather delays and more – plus it comes with coverage for medical expenses that might be incurred away from home. That’s especially important when traveling internationally.

I bought one of their annual plans last year for about $200. It paid off when some medical expenses I incurred sailing on a cruise in international waters added up to over $2000, little of which was paid by my primary health insurance. The travel insurance paid the rest.

canceled flightSay a flight booked on American Airlines was cancelled. The airline would do its best to reschedule. Frequent flyers know the drill too: flight canceled, stand in long line at airline customer service counter and hope to get to destination at a reasonable time.

But what would my travel insurance have done for me? We asked Travel Guard to find out.

“In addition to the 24-hour assistance Travel Guard provides customers in rebooking their flights, accommodations and other pre-planned travel arrangements, in the event that their trip is delayed five or more hours, travel insurance can reimburse for expenses incurred until travel becomes possible,” Carol Mueller, VP of Travel Guard North America told Gadling.

That could come in handy when a late, weather-delayed flight causes a missed connection and the next flight out is tomorrow. Weather-related flight delays? Technically, not the airline’s problem. The travel insurance company, much like a travel agent, is on your side and ready to help when needed.

“Cancellation would be covered when due to mechanical/equipment failure of the carrier, or when inclement weather causes delay or cancellation of travel,” added Mueller. “We recommend customers contact us at our toll-free number as soon as they know their trip is going to be delayed, interrupted or cancelled and we can help with alternate solutions to their travel plans.”

Regardless of which travel insurance company we choose, having that protection along for the ride when traveling can pay off. Liability-limiting reasons for airlines to cancel or delay flights due to weather events and “maintenance” issues seem to be on the rise. That takes travel insurance from an optional extra not likely to be used to something that may be seriously considered.

 

When Do You Really Need Travel Insurance
[Flickr photos by Scott Ableman]

How to Find Adventure Travel Insurance

adventure travelersAdventure travelers have needs. Insurance needs that are unlike those of other travelers that choose a different, maybe easier path. Now, a major insurance plan provider has what they think is just what this edgy group needs.

With their new Great Outdoors plan, Travel Guard North America has enhanced coverage and benefits, offering a streamlined solution to travel insurance.

“A lot of time, effort and money go into planning active and adventure vacations,” said Carol Mueller, Vice President of Travel Guard North America in a release. “Whether you’re planning a relaxed sporting vacation or participating in extreme adventure, many factors can cause a dream trip to go awry.”

On safari, surfing, spelunking or mountain climbing, the comprehensive Great Outdoors plan covers gear and equipment, along with coverage for emergency medical expenses and evacuation, trip cancellation, interruption and delay, and more.

“Travel Guard’s new Great Outdoors travel insurance plan provides a wide range of coverages and specific sports travel services to help put active travelers’ minds at ease,” adds Mueller.

Along with this plan comes 24/7 access to Travel Guard’s travel assistance and emergency services for flight re-bookings, physician referrals and prescription refills. Plus, the Great Outdoors plan includes additional sports-related concierge services like hunting and fishing guide referrals, coordination of equipment pick-up and delivery, driving directions, and any other requests active travelers may have.

Often though, what makes or breaks a travel insurance plan is not what they cover but how they pay. TravelGuard has a bit of a reputation for paying fast when the required documentation is submitted by fax or email. Some other companies are known for making those covered jump through enough hoops to count as an adventure of its own, trying to collect.

I can personally attest to TravelGuard’s process, experiencing it first hand when injured on a recent trip. It was just 3 weeks from the time I submitted the claim until I had a check in my hand, about half the standard time for many insurance companies.

 

Top Adventure Travel Destinations

Flickr photo by Se7en Summits

Tell your travel disaster story and win a $10,000 trip

Does misfortune seem to follow you when you travel? Ever been delayed on the tarmac for 10 hours, arrived to find your luggage was lost, your hotel had burned down, and you’d misplaced your passport? If you’ve got the mother of all travel disaster stories, Travel Guard insurance wants to hear from you.

On December 1st, they’re launching a contest to find the worst travel tale of woe, and the person deemed to be the “World’s Unluckiest Traveler” will be awarded a $10,000 dream vacation.

Every month, one winner will be chosen (by votes) to receive a Flip MinoHDTM camcorder. Another winner will be chosen at random from among the people for voted for that story as the worst. Each month’s “worst” winner will then be entered to win the fabulous grand prize, a (hopefully disaster-free) trip worth $10,000.

So if your travels have left you broke or beaten down, get your story ready and turn your travel disaster into something positive.