Perhaps you’ve spent weeks looking forward to your upcoming vacation. You’ve purchased everything from flights and accommodations to excursions and rental vehicles. You’ve also smartly purchased travel insurance. Then, right before your trip, a situation arises that forces you to cancel your trip. If that’s the case, do you know what to do? Can you cancel a trip with travel insurance? Here, we’ll guide you through what to do to utilize your trip cancellation insurance.


What are Covered Reasons for Trip Cancellation?

Trip cancellation insurance protects you from certain financial losses that could occur if your trip gets cancelled due to certain unforeseen circumstances. However, you can’t assume that you’ll be covered regardless. What is a covered reason for trip cancellation? Coverage limits vary from plan to plan and from policy to policy, so you’ll want to be sure you read the plan details before buying trip cancellation insurance.

With that being said, these are some situations that basic trip cancellation insurance will normally cover:

  • You, your travel companion or a dependent gets sick
  • Death of a travel companion or family member
  • Damage to your house in a natural disaster, such as a flood, fire or earthquake
  • Complete cessation of travel services due to strike
  • Terror strike in your destination country
  • You or your companion are affected by a termination or a layoff
  • Inclement weather
  • You or your travel companion becomes pregnant and is not allowed to travel during pregnancy
  • You or your travel companion is quarantined
  • You or your travel companion is summoned to appear in court

Meeting Trip Cancellation Requirements

Although getting sick is listed as a reason for coverage, does that mean that if you wake up on the morning of your flight with a stuffy nose and sore throat, you can simply cancel and get your money back? Generally, there is more to it than that.

Many policies will require your illness or injury to be significant enough to make any reasonable person cancel their trip. Likewise, you must report all cancellations to the travel supplier within 72 hours of the event causing cancellation (in this case, the event causing cancellation would be sickness). In addition to declaring the event, you would also need to be examined by a physician or urgent care medical professional who can certify that the illness prevents travel. You would have up until the date and time of the departure to cancel, but it would have to be based on medical advice.

Unfortunately, if you were to wake up feeling sick and cancel your trip without having sought medical advice, benefits may not be available since there would be no way to verify the illness. If, however, there were extenuating circumstances, claims would take them into consideration. In that case, you should gather as much documentation as possible to support the events that led to the cancellation. However, it’s unlikely that benefits would be available if no medical treatment is sought at all.

Ultimately, each policy has specific requirements and nuances, so be sure to check the plan details of the specific policy you select.

Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)

One of the assumptions many travelers make is that purchasing trip cancellation insurance allows them to cancel their trip for any reason and still receive reimbursements. That’s not the case. While trip cancellation insurance covers many common reasons for cancelling a trip (inclement weather, injuries, or illnesses), it doesn’t mean that you can cancel your trip for any reason.

To receive that benefit, you’d need to purchase a specific add-on benefit called Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR). Like the name suggests, this does allow you to cancel for literally any reason and still recoup some of the prepaid expenses of your trip.

What to Do if Part of Your Trip is Cancelled

If only part of your trip is cancelled (for example, your initial flight has a long delay due to inclement weather), trip cancellation insurance can help you in recovering costs caused by the delay. Each policy and plan is different and may have different definitions for what constitutes a “delay” and at what point you can receive benefits.

However, travel delay insurance benefits will often cover you for costs related to accommodation, meals, and transportation connected to the delay.. In the event of a delay, you may lose out on the beginning of a trip, but with trip insurance, you can usually catch up and experience the rest of the trip you’ve planned.

In the rare event that you’re not able to get your original itinerary back on track, many trip cancellation policies may consider that sufficient reason to cancel the entire trip. At that point, you would be able to receive the reimbursement amount specified in your policy documentation.

Evidence is Everything

No matter whether you end up experiencing a minor flight delay or there’s a sufficient reason to cancel your entire trip, you will need to submit a claim regarding your case in order to receive reimbursement. This means you’ll need to provide as many details surrounding your trip as possible, such as:

  • Receipts for any expenses
  • Copies or any sort of travel confirmation (flights, hotel reservations, car rental reservations)
  • Any documentation that will support why you needed to cancel your trip
  • Any confirmation of medical diagnosis or doctor’s recommendations
  • Documentation of any refunds that have already been provided

Because traveling is such an enjoyable experience, it can be heartbreaking when you have to cancel a trip. Luckily, travel cancellation insurance helps you recoup some of the financial expenses in the event that you have to pull the plug on your plans. Just make sure you read your policy documentation carefully so you know exactly what your coverage allows.