With Thanksgiving, and thus the kickoff to the official holiday travel season, just a month away, it’s a good time to review the top travel insurance coverage options available to those celebrating the long weekend away from home. Thanksgiving travel is a relatively unique event in the grand scheme of holiday comings and goings; with most people making their turkey day festivities only a weekend affair, there’s a greater chance of major congestion, long lines, and frustrating mishaps crammed into one short time period. However, because it’s also a family-centered holiday for most of us, traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend also brings with it some fairly high stakes as far as the emotional importance of getting from here to there in a safe and timely fashion.
Although conventional travel insurance wisdom usually says that people who are planning a quick, domestic trip may not really need to purchase a travel insurance policy, the exception to that rule happens to be Thanksgiving. With jam-packed airports and train stations nearly guaranteed, the chances that something inconvenient will happen while you’re traveling for Thanksgiving are far greater than they would be for almost any other weekend getaway. If you’re making plans to celebrate outside the comfort of your own home this year, you may want to consider the following coverage options to give you a bit more peace of mind while you’re navigating those crowded terminals.
1. Travel Delay. Delays may be the most likely form of turkey-travel annoyance, so it’s smart to be prepared in advance. With a travel insurance policy that covers you for travel delays, you can take advantage of benefits like reimbursement for incidental expenses (food, lodgings, etc) you may incur while waiting for your plane or train to actually depart. Travel delay coverage is also generally part of a broader Package Plan, which may offer you assistance with rebooking if needed, as well as reimbursement for any fees associated with changing your travel plans to get to the Thanksgiving table on time. Be sure to read your policy carefully; most of the time, you’ll only be eligible to receive benefits for travel delay if the delay stretches out for a defined period of time (typically, it’s 5 hours or more, but it varies by plan and provider). Still, in the crowded landscape of the Thanksgiving weekend, a five-hour delay is perfectly possible.
2. Cancellation. If, for some reason, your delay stretches out to become no longer a delay, but a severe headache, you may be able to take advantage of the cancellation benefits offered by your travel insurance policy. Again, the terms vary by plan, but in most cases, delays lasting more than 24 hours make you eligible to cancel your trip and file a claim to receive reimbursement for all your pre-paid, non-refundable expenses. So if your flight is supposed to take off at noon on Wednesday, but you end up being told that you’re not getting out until 2 p.m. on Thursday, you may be able to cancel your flight and call an in-town friend who’d be happy to pull up another chair at the feast table instead.
3. Baggage Delay. There are few things more frustrating, particularly on a short trip, than getting to your destination on time — without your luggage. While many of us probably plan to simply streamline our belongings to what fits into a carry-on, the reality is that all too often, crowded flights require last-minute bag checks that you probably didn’t anticipate. One of the benefits offered by a travel insurance Package Plan is for baggage delay, giving you the opportunity to replace necessary belongings that don’t accompany you as planned, then file a claim for reimbursement with your travel insurance company.
4. CFAR. Cancel for Any Reason coverage, otherwise known as CFAR, is a benefit we tend to talk about in almost every situation due to its flexibility. It’s definitely worth a look for Thanksgiving travelers, because any number of last-minute scenarios may overtake a weekend trip — even one that involves Grandma’s pumpkin pie. If your pet becomes too ill to be left at home, or you suddenly become obligated to show up at work the day after the holiday, or if your travel plans were going to take you to Minneapolis just as a huge band of snow starts to work its way across the Midwest, CFAR can provide you with the ability to back out of your trip and recoup your pre-paid, non-refundable expenses. Just be forewarned that in order to exercise your CFAR benefits, you would have to cancel your plans and notify all your travel suppliers at least 48 hours in advance of your scheduled departure. There are also some specific eligibility requirements to purchase a CFAR policy, so make sure you read the terms of any plan carefully before buying.
These coverage options, along with the many other benefits offered by travel insurance, can help take some of the aggravation out of a busy and often chaotic Thanksgiving travel scene. On behalf of InsureMyTrip, I wish every one of our travelers a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend, no matter where you intend to spend it.