Travel insurance is designed to perform best in simple situations where you prepaid for vacation components. For example, trip cancellation: when you or a loved one gets sick or has an accident that prevents your travel; or trip interruption: when something happens to prevent you from reaching your destination or staying there.
Those kinds of travel insurance are good at getting back whatever money you can’t get back directly from the suppliers, and that’s enough for many travelers. But many problems that often arise fall around the edges of travel insurance policies, and may not be covered.
Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site, recently shared some “surprisingly common” nightmares that standard travel insurance often doesn’t cover. Squaremouth names three situations for each of the following categories: air travel, hotel stays, and on-the-ground bookings once you’ve arrived.
Here are potential travel insurance nightmares to be on the lookout for, and how you might be able to avoid or remedy it.
What Travel Insurance Won’t Cover
Security Delays: Travel insurance typically doesn’t cover you if you miss a plane due to excessively long lines at TSA. While those aren’t your fault, they also aren’t the fault of the airline. If you frequent busy airports, consider TSA Precheck where it’s available.
Bumping: Insurance typically doesn’t cover downstream cancellation penalties if you’re bumped from a flight and miss a subsequent departure.
Mileage Flights: If your flight on a frequent flyer award ticket is canceled or otherwise impacted, insurance can’t replace or pay you for points. It may, however, cover the cost or re-deposit unused miles thereafter.
Lost Lodging Reservations: A lost lodging reservation isn’t covered by travel insurance, and instead will have to be taken up with the company or travel agent that lost it.
Double-Booked Accommodation: As with a lost reservation, if you find someone else in the accommodation you booked, travel insurance typically doesn’t cover you.
Not as Advertised Accommodation: An accommodation that’s a lot less desirable when you arrive than it looked to be online generally isn’t covered by travel insurance. Researching accommodations on review sites like TripAdvisor (SmarterTravel’s parent company) falls on you.
Ticket Scams: If you find your event or sightseeing excursion ticket turns out to be fake, typical travel insurance won’t cover you. Make sure you’re using a trusted ticket or tour outlet.
Last-Minute Changes: If your cruise line or tour operator makes a last-minute itinerary or excursion change, travel insurance typically won’t cover any travel issues caused by it, unless it involves complete curtailment. You can try contacting the operator responsible for the changes about compensation.
Poor Destination Conditions: If you arrive at a golf or tennis resort, and it rains the entire time you’re there, or there’s no snow at a ski resort, you might be disappointed—but travel insurance certainly won’t help you. As long as your airline operates and the resort is open, you got what you paid for despite Mother Nature’s mood.
Experiencing one of these travel insurance nightmares doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re totally out of luck—or out of pocket. It means only that ordinary insurance won’t cover you, and you’ll have to attempt compensation through another means. Note that even “cancel for any reason” insurance won’t help with these problems: “Any reason” coverage typically ends 48 hours prior to your departure.
Remember that you still have recourse to whatever supplier made promises when they took your money. Many suppliers are pretty good about accommodating travelers they have inconvenienced—just know that looking to your insurance in these situations will be a waste of time.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 5 Common Travel Insurance Questions, Answered
- The One Word That Could Negate Your Travel Insurance
- 4 Ways to Get into the Airport Lounge
Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.