PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands of passengers have been stranded in recent weeks after weather-related flight cancellations and delays over the holidays and grounded planes after a Federal Aviation Administration computer failure. Now, a travel insurance expert is emphasizing the importance of travel coverage.
Experts note the importance of knowing your rights as a passenger since there are no law requiring airlines to provide compensation.
If you’re embarking on your trip but flight delays leave you stuck at home, travel insurance can provide a travel delay benefit, which may include reimbursement for meals during the delay, according to Meghan Walch, travel insurance expert with Insure My Trip. Walch notes that travelers must be delayed for a certain nnumber of hours before the benefit can be applied.
In this scenario, without travel insurance, Walch says each airline has its own flight delay policy.
In another scenario, if you miss a cruise, hotel reservation or other bookings because of issues with flights, Wlach explains with travel insurance “some plans may have coverage called either ‘travel delay’ or ‘missed connection’ where that can help to reimburse for extra costs that you may face due to a covered delay. These additional costs may be something like having to stay overnight in a hotel, purchase extra food during a flight delay or even expenses to help you catch up to a cruise.”
Without travel insurance, in this scenario, experts say airlines are not required to reimburse travelers for missing a cruise, concert or similar reservations.
If you’re trying to return from a trip but are stuck at your vacation destination, travel insurance may provide reimbursement for a hotel if a trip is extended due to unforeseen circumstances including flight cancellations, Walch said. Experts say trip interruption coverage can also provide reimbursement for additional airfare for an emergency flight home.
However, without travel insurance, experts warn that airlines are not required to reimburse travelers for things like prepaid, non-refundable hotel rooms.
“It’s not always clear what the airline will cover and what they won’t cover,” Walch says. “So, it is always a good idea to have travel insurance which can potentially reimburse you for extra expenses that you face during the trip.”
When a flight cancellation or delay occurs, Walch says the first step is to “try to work with the airlines, see what they might do for you. Again, no guarantees there, so that’s when travel insurance can kick in and potentially help you in these situations.”