How to insure your trip in case of flight cancellations

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Air travel continues to be disrupted this week due to a spike in Covid infections in the country, and many concerned Americans may wonder how and how to secure and insure upcoming or planned travel.

According to the website, 2,221 flights nationwide were canceled on Thursday alone. FlightAware… It was the 12th day in a row that airlines curtailed more than 1,000 flights as employees with omicron or delta variants of the virus caused illnesses in already understaffed carriers and winter weather hit parts of the country.

“These interruptions are crazy right now,” said Jeremy Merchland, president of Seven Corners in Carmel, Indiana. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Traveler inquiries from Seven Corners, which sells both comprehensive travel insurance and health-only plans, have doubled in the past week or so from the last few months of 2021, he said.

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The good news is that federal law requires that if your airline cancels or “materially changes” your flight and you cancel your trip, the carrier must refund you in the original form of payment. “It’s that simple,” said Willis Orlando, Senior Product Specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights.

There are two caveats, however, he added. First, airlines can define their own definition of significant.

“Some, like United, consider any change of 30 minutes or more to be significant, while others, like American, generally don’t offer refunds for changes less than four hours,” Orlando said, adding that most other carriers “ fall somewhere in between. “

Airlines with the most canceled flights (01/06/2022)

Below are the US-based airlines with the most canceled flights on January 6, 2022, according to the FlightAware website.

  1. Southwest: 658
  2. SkyWest: 285
  3. United: 245
  4. Alaska: 137
  5. Republic: 125
  6. American: 108
  7. Delta: 66
  8. PSA: 65
  9. Mesa: 61
  10. Horizon: 45

Source: FlightAware

Secondly, airlines are not obliged to pay compensation to passengers, except for the cost of the ticket in case of flight delays or cancellations. So if you are late, but prefer to wait and travel, you may not get any relief – financial or otherwise.

“Many [carriers] do it anyway to maintain customer loyalty and maintain your brand image, Orlando said. “However, as a rule, even airlines that usually offer such unforeseen compensation sometimes fail when it comes to mechanical failures, weather conditions or other events” out of their control. “

What if not one or two flights are affected, but the entire vacation with, say, hotel stays, car rentals, sightseeing tickets, etc.? Or, what if the problem is not the trip itself, but the ability to check for Covid before, during or after the trip? This is where travel insurance comes in.

“If people are nervous about their trip being interrupted or not wanting to travel, travel insurance can be a worthwhile option,” Orlando said. “We advise you to do your homework and study the well-known policy that really means ‘cancellation for any reason’.”

Cancellation for any reason, or CFAR, the plans are just this: you can cancel for any reason with a full refund, possibly minus administration fees. However, while standard less generous travel insurance plans typically cost between 4% and 8% of the travel purchase price, CFAR coverage can often add up to 50% more to actual travel costs, according to Seven Corners’ Merchland.

“It’s a premium, but again, it’s about peace of mind now,” he said. “A lot of people still want to travel, but they worry about travel and what happens ‘if’.”

Megan Moncrief, director of marketing for online travel insurance market, advised travelers to double-check their airline before purchasing additional insurance.

“Many carriers still reimburse fares or allow passengers to reschedule travel dates or receive travel packages,” she said. “We definitely don’t recommend [travel insurance] if you can get your money back elsewhere. “

In addition, CFAR plans are usually only available for purchase between 14 and 21 days after the original flight or package booking, Moncrief said.

“Most of the policies we buy on our website for international travel are issued a little more than 30 days in advance,” she said, which means that the majority of Squaremouth’s US customers in St. Petersburg, Florida go overseas with less detailed plans. and more stringent. reimbursement criteria.

Air travel is a mess right now and the tests are super backed up … it’s just the perfect storm.

Megan Moncrief

Marketing Director

This isn’t a problem if you’re just worried about catching Covid overseas and may have to stay in quarantine abroad for a while, as many standard plans cover that, Moncrief noted. “While abroad, you get health insurance, for example in case of hospitalization, as well as additional living and transport costs if you are in quarantine and cannot return home,” she said. “This can usually last seven days, and sometimes more, after you [original] planned return date “.

Moncrief sees access to Covid testing as a potentially bigger problem for Americans traveling overseas. “It looks like air travel is just a mess right now and testing is super reinforced – coupled with many countries tightening their entry requirements – this is just the perfect storm.

“Where we are probably headed in terms of problems for travelers: you have everything planned, the destination is open, but now you cannot logistically complete the testing on time,” she added. CFAR will provide you with insurance, while most others will not.

“If you’re worried about getting a contract with Covid, a standard travel insurance policy is fine,” Moncrief said. “If you have any other Covid related issues then you will want to cancel your subscription for whatever reason.”

Orlando of Scott’s Cheap Flights says travelers should also familiarize themselves with the protection that credit card issuers offer.

“Many credit cards these days have travel interruption insurance built in or better, which often covers as much, if not more, than separately purchased travel insurance,” he said.

“You’ll be surprised to know how many people have this advantage and will never take advantage of it because they don’t know it exists,” Orlando added. “You pay an annual fee on your credit card, so we can’t provide enough compelling advice to learn about the benefits and possibly save ourselves the hassle of looking for travel insurance.”

If you do choose additional insurance, Murchland at Seven Corners recommends that you seek professional advice. “Okay, be your own travel agent and book your own flight, hotel and car, but then call and talk to the agent and make sure you get the right travel insurance,” he advised. “Don’t try to interpret things for yourself in this current environment; it’s just not worth it. “

What if you don’t want to buy more expensive CFAR coverage? “At least get a plan that includes trip cancellation, trip delay and trip interruption,” Merchland said. “These three conditions are important.”

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