Travel Insurance for Trip Cancellation

Need travel insurance to cover flights and accommodation if you have to cancel your trip?

Just discovered that you're no longer able to go on your dream trip to NYC? There are a lot of misconceptions around travel insurance and cancellation cover. Unfortunately, many travellers do not understand what situations they are covered for, leading to disappointment.

This article will highlight what kind of cancellations your travel insurance should be covering you for and what to look for in a policy.

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Why do I need cancellation cover?

Travel insurance with cancellation cover lets you claim back certain expenses from your insurance provider in situations where all or part of your trip is cancelled.

Common causes of trip cancellation include:

  • Flight delays and cancellations. Airline's can delay flight's last minute, creating costs for the unlucky ticket holder during the wait. Travel insurance will cover you in the event your flight is cancelled due to severe weather or strike. If your flight is cancelled for any other reason, it is up to your airline to reimburse you for any costs related to ticket cancellation.
  • Dangerous political situations. Civil unrest within a country can be damaging your plans of travellers and result in cancellations.
  • Extreme weather and natural disasters. An unexpected snowfall can in some cases disable your ability to enter a country.
  • Unforeseen circumstances back home. A loved one back home could fall ill, requiring you to put an abrupt halt your travels.

What exactly does travel cancellation cover?

Cancellation cover allows a traveller to recover lost deposits and cancellation fees for prepaid travel arrangements resulting from unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, it doesn’t just apply to the cost of flights but extends to other prepaid arrangements such as accommodation and planned activities.

When assessing any type of insurance, the extent of coverage will depend on a specific policy. However, most travel insurance brands’ cancellation coverage extends to a number of situations.

If you employ travel cancellation cover, you should be protected for:

  • Cancelled pre-booked flights. If your flight is cancelled because of a strike or severe weather conditions.
  • Accommodation. Any paid accommodation that that is cancelled or the cancellation charge.
  • Hired equipment. Any equipment that you have paid for such as a ski gear, car hire, etc.
  • Activities. This will include activities you have paid for such as bungee jumping, fishing tours.
  • Costs as a result of weather cancellations. This includes the cost of new flights, accomodation, and food if a flight is cancelled due to weather.
  • Illness. If you or someone you're travelling with falls ill then you will be covered for losses. You will also be covered in the event of hospitalisation or death of a family member, even if they're not travelling with you.
  • Pre-booked expenses. You will be covered for cancellation fees and lost deposits for accommodation and travel arrangements that you have paid for in advance. You will also be reimbursed for fees that have been charged by the travel agent.

Reading the fine print: know what's excluded

Not all claims are successful. In fact, one of the biggest misconceptions about travel insurance is that the insurance provider will cover all costs associated with any cancellations.

If for any reason your trip is cancelled and you feel like you are entitled to make a claim, remember to gather as much substantiating evidence as you can. Your insurer will normally cover you for situations when a pre-booked flight is cancelled due to a strike or weather conditions.

Most policies will not cover:

  • Flight cancellations related to rescheduling mechanical fault, overbooking, or repairs, as the airline, bus line or rail authority is responsible for compensation in situations such as these.
  • If you miss your flight due to your own negligence. For example, if you turn up at the airport 15 minutes before your flight is supposed to leave, your insurer will not pay you a benefit as you failed to leave yourself with sufficient amount of time to check in to your flight.
  • If you or your travelling companion simply changes your travel plans.
  • Any cancellation due to financial, contractual or other business obligations, unless due to unexpected redundancy.
  • If your tour operator or wholesaler is unable to complete a pre-booked tour because not enough people have signed up for the tour.
  • If you have to cancel your trip due to the death or sickness of any person that does not reside in your home country. This may vary between insurers.
  • If your employer cancels your pre-arranged holiday leave.
  • Costs incurred after you return home.
Pre-existing medical conditions

If you suddenly have to cancel your trip due to your own or family members known pre-existing medical condition, your cover could be void. This same exclusion applies for known pregnancies.

Read more about getting travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions.

Can I get 'cancel for any reason' coverage?

Unfortunately not. In Australia, there aren't any policies that provide cover this type of coverage. Most policies provide cancellation cover for specified reasons such as death, strike, natural disaster, and injury.

What do any reason policies cover?

While you're unable to get this cover in Australia, this type of policy is available in other countries. Typical conditions for any reason cancellations include:

  • Policy can only bought within a window of trip being paid for e.g. 15 or 30 days
  • 100% of cost of prepaid, non refundable trip items are insured
  • Cancellation with travel vendor e.g. airlines, hotels must occur a minimum time before departure e.g. two/three days

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Can I buy a cancellation only travel insurance policy?

Although comprehensive travel insurance offers cancellation cover as part of its package, you can also find standalone cover for travel cancellations.

Quite often, airline carriers and insurers will offer barebones travel cancellation insurance with little to no medical cover. Here are some of the benefits of buying standalone travel cancellation insurance:

  • A more flexible, tailored cover choice. You know how much risk you are willing to take, and you may feel like trip cancellations is the only significant financial risk in your next travel.
  • Making up for shortfalls in your coverage. You could potentially combine a standalone travel cancellation policy with your existing travel insurance policy if it lacks adequate cancellation cover.
  • Specialised support for lost passports, embassy referral, emergency messages, weather information and refunds.

How to choose a policy

When choosing a cancellation travel insurance policy, things to consider include:

  • Compare multiple insurance products. Our quote engine makes this really easy to do.
  • Make sure to read the product disclosure statement, as this is the best way to determine exactly what situations you will be covered for. If you are confused about any of the clauses, it is best to contact the insurance provider for clarification.
  • Check the policy exclusions. Understand everything that you are covered for and don’t make assumptions.
  • Where are you travelling? Make sure that all countries that you are visiting are covered by your policy. Find out more about how cover is impacted by countries with travel warnings.
  • Consider where you are travelling to and the risk of civil or political unrest or extreme weather.
  • The chance flight delays or cancellations can have a domino effect on your other bookings. Make sure your insurer will cover you for missed connections.
  • Are you paying upfront for hired equipment such as ski equipment? Make sure those costs are covered in case that part of your trip is cancelled.

When should you take out cancellation cover?

Travel insurance is not always a high priority on your holiday to-do list and it’s easy to leave it until the last minute. To make sure you are protected against cancellation, be sure to take out your insurance policy as soon as you make significant pre-paid travel arrangements. This might include flights, accommodation or tours.

Learn more about when to purchase your travel insurance
 


Some other questions you may have

Most basic travel insurance policies offer at least one other cover feature than cancellation, this may include luggage or medical cover. You can still get cover at an affordable rate but it is rare to find cancellation only travel policies. Even policies from airlines will also generally also cover your luggage.

Unfortunately, we can't tell you what is the best policy for your situation. It will come down to your own cover requirements. There are comprehensive policies that will offer unlimited cover for trip cancellation. You will need to review the policy exclusions and benefit conditions in order to determine whats right for you. Also be clear on the excess you will be liable to pay in a claim.

No. As stated previously, you will not be covered by travel insurance if you simply change your travel plans. You are only covered for cancellation or trip amendment for reasons that are outside of your control.

Yes, all policies offer a cooling-off period from the date the policy is purchased that you can cancel your cover and get a full refund. This is usually about between 14 and 30 days and will only be paid if your policy or trip has not commenced.

You will only be covered if you can't travel because you or your travelling companion have been unexpectedly made redundant.

It will depend on the policy you choose. Some insurers will provide cover for claims related to terrorist threats while others will exclude it. You can find out who will offer cover terrorism here.

You are only covered if you have to change your flight for reasons that are outside of your control such as unexpected illness/injury, death of family member, legal obligations and unforeseen natural disasters and bad weather.

Typically not. The actual timeshare fees themselves are not covered by travel insurance, and are typically not refundable. If you’ve planned a trip to your timeshare, but had to call it off, travel insurance might pay for peripheral expenses including prepaid travel costs, Pre-booked hotel or motel accommodation, Unexpected travel expenses associated with delays, such as reasonable accommodation costs. For direct cover the actual timeshare costs, such as membership and management fees, you will generally need a specialised timeshare travel insurance provider.

Unfortunately you will not be covered if you have to cancel your trip due to your passport not arriving on time.

No. Cancelling a trip for work reasons, whether to start a new job or because holiday has not been approved will not be covered.

Cancelling your trip due to pregnancy or childbirth is generally excluded. However, some policies will provide cover if you become pregnant after the policy has become active.

Yes, most travel insurance policies will provide cover if you are required to cancel your trip due to jury duty.

Inclement weather is generally defined as severe weather conditions that result in delays of the arrival or departure of the airline, cruise, train or other transport carrier.

Not necessarily. Most airlines will only offer you a flight credit if you can't travel due to unexpected circumstances. This is also the case if your flight is cancelled or delayed due to weather.

If the cancellation or delay is the fault of the airline, the airline will either:

  • Put you on the next scheduled service when room becomes available or reroute you to your destination with another airline at no additional cost.
  • Provide you with a refund.

Generally yes. If your flight is cancelled because the airline staff is on strike, you should receive compensation from your travel insurance policy. If your flight is reimbursed or rebooked by the airline, you will not receive any compensation from your insurance provider.

It is worth noting that some policies will only cover you if the strike is "unforeseen". If there has been ongoing strikes from the airlines staff that have been reported on in the media, you may not be liable to receive compensation. It is worth clarifying this with your insurer at the time of application.


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Richard Laycock

Richard is the insurance editor at finder.com.au. He is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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12 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    WendyApril 7, 2017

    can you get insurance to cover your deposit for a cruise which is not going until mid next year? How do I ensure I don’t lose my deposit for any reason

    • Staff
      ZubairApril 11, 2017Staff

      Hi Wendy,

      Thank you for your question.

      finder.com.au is a comparison and information service and we are not permitted to provide our users with personalised financial advice or product recommendations.

      Generally, most travel insurance brands won’t allow you to take out cover more than one year in advance, insurers do this to minimise their own risk. However, It could be a good idea to check with your trip provider to see if they have any cancellation cover options.

      All the best,
      Zubair

  2. Default Gravatar
    RogerFebruary 17, 2017

    My son is looking at doing the Youth World Challenge through his school. The cost is approx. $8,600, which has to be raise by the school, family and students. However a deposit and regular payments are required at regular intervals with a lump sum due near the date. As the dates are not set, and that the time has been reduced from 15mths to 9mths for the payment, if we have to cancel due to not being able to raise the funds, will the cost be covered by insurance?

    • Staff
      ZubairFebruary 20, 2017Staff

      Hi Roger,

      Thank you for your question.

      Generally, travel insurance does not provide cover for cancellation due to financial, contractual or other business obligations. For more clarification on this matter best to consult the product disclosure statement or insurer directly.

      Cheers,
      Zubair

  3. Default Gravatar
    January 6, 2017

    I bought Travel Insurance with Insure and GO on the 2nd September 2016 for a trip which commences on the 27th September 2017 for 32 days.
    They charged me $690 for two adults which included an extra $427 surcharge for a pre-medical condition.

    The airline are willing to refund in full because they changed my flight details so the only other cost for the holiday is about $200 for accommodation for a stop over each way.

    There is an excess of $100 per claim on the policy.

    Can I claim any of the pre-medical declaration costs as these will not apply until travel begins as we now cannot travel due to my wife having a serious illness which was not diagnosed until December last.

    • Staff
      RichardJanuary 9, 2017Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for getting in touch. You will need to contact InsureandGo’s claims department about these matters.

      All the best,
      Richard

  4. Default Gravatar
    LmshortieNovember 23, 2015

    HI, We are planning a family trip to NZ for a family birthday and my husband runs a small business and works everyday can you get insurance to cover if he is unable to come with us do to work issues or is it only medical issues? Thanks

    • Staff
      RichardNovember 23, 2015Staff

      Hi Lmshortie,

      Thanks for your question. You may be able to find cover but it would depend on the policy and the reason for cancellation. For example, if he was unable to travel due to an unforeseen incident befalling a business partner, he may be able to make a claim. These conditions vary from provider to provider so you’ll need to ask them about your specific concerns prior to taking out cover.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

  5. Default Gravatar
    MinnaNovember 21, 2015

    We are planning to hire a car in Europe next year. We will need to make a number of payments for flights, car hire etc. the main concern is an elderly family member aged 87, who may pass away at that time. Most policies will not cover a family member dying if they are over the age of 80 – 85. Can you recommend a policy that will cover us?

    • Staff
      RichardNovember 23, 2015Staff

      Hi Minna,

      Thanks for your question. finder.com.au is a comparison service and we are not permitted to provide personalised financial advice or product recommendations. Unfortunately we do not have access to that kind of information.

      All the best,
      Richard

  6. Default Gravatar
    PeterJune 29, 2015

    Hi there,
    I understand that it is possible to purchase travel insurance cover for cancellation for any reason. Could you tell me which companies in Australia provide this type of insurance.
    Regards,
    Peter

    • Staff
      RichardJune 29, 2015Staff

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question. Many of the providers in our panel of some cover for cancellation. If you would like to compare your options, simply enter your travel details into the comparison tool. Once you have done so you will be able to view the products we compare and the level of cancellation covered by consulting the second column.

      I hope this was helpful,
      Richard

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