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Are Your Trip Expenses Up In Smoke If Your Flight Gets Canceled?

Are Your Trip Expenses Up In Smoke If Your Flight Gets Canceled?
Posted: 06/08/20236,535 Views

If you live in the eastern portion of the US, you’re probably aware that the skies are pretty smoky this week. And no matter where you live, you’ve probably seen and read about the haze choking the skies above New York and other major cities in the eastern United States.

Wildfires across Canada are creating plumes of ash and smoke that prevailing winds are bringing into large US cities, choking out the sun in an eerie orange haze. It’s no fun to breathe, and even hazardous for sensitive individuals. But it’s also doing a number on the airline industry.

As of this writing, over 300 flights have been canceled or delayed due to hazardous conditions caused by the thick smoke. And although the winds are predicted to clear most of it out by this weekend, the resulting ripple effect could impact air travel for a week. The question is, what happens if your flight is canceled due to the smoky conditions?

Does Travel Insurance Cover Flight Cancellations Due to Smoke?

If you’re purchased a travel insurance plan, one of the primary components of it is trip cancellation coverage. It works like this: If your trip has to be cancelled for a covered reason, the travel insurance plan can reimburse you for your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses; things like hotels, event tickets, airfare, etc.

So, how could your travel insurance plan help in a scenario where your flight got canceled due to smoke?

Most plans do provide coverage due to weather/smoke, in the event that the unforeseen weather causes complete cessation of the common carrier (airline in this case) for at least 48 hours. So, coverage could be provided, but only if the flight cancellation duration meets the requirements of the specific travel insurance plan you’ve purchased.  

For a canceled flight, the airline will almost always try to reschedule you on the next available flight. And if they cannot, they will refund you or provide a voucher for the cost of the ticket(s). In this case, since the airfare is refundable, travel insurance would not cover it. Travel insurance can only refund you for the cost of prepaid, nonrefundable expenses.

Of course, airfare is not the only cost involved in taking a vacation or trip. You may have also spent a lot of money booking a hotel or resort in advance, and the cost is often nonrefundable. 

In the event of a flight cancellation, you would not be able to file a claim for reimbursement of your hotel costs if the airline is able to get you on a different flight to your destination later that day or early the next day. You’re still able to reach your destination, and complete cessation of the carrier for 48 hours has not occurred, so there would be nothing to reimburse.

However, if the smoke (or any other reason) does cause air travel to completely shut down for a period that meets the criteria of your travel insurance plan and you’re unable to reach your destination and utilize the hotel booking you’ve already paid for, you can file a claim for reimbursement of eligible costs. That’s exactly what travel insurance is for. 

What If I Don’t Want to Travel Somewhere Smoky?

Being unsatisfied with the weather or other climatological conditions of your destination is not a valid reason for trip cancellation, and standard travel insurance plans will not provide coverage. The same goes for the event or activity you wanted to participate in being cancelled due to wildfire smoke or another weather reason. 

If you want more flexibility in being able to cancel your trip for any reason you see fit, consider cancel for any reason travel insurance. Just keep in mind that there are still requirements you must meet and restrictions regarding when you can and cannot cancel your trip, and you will not be reimbursed for the full amount if you cancel for a reason not covered by standard travel insurance plans. 

Take Time to Understand Your Travel Insurance Coverage

Regardless of your concerns, please remember that different travel insurance plans have different rules and requirements. Take time to read the policy certificate of the plan you’ve purchased or plan on purchasing. The way two different plans cover the same scenario may be different. Make sure you understand how yours works, so you aren’t caught by surprise if your trip plans get hazy. 

And as always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.

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