Travel Insurance: What's Covered?

August 10, 2006
Latest Flight Regulations Update
Cruise Lines: What Are Contingency Plans?
News: Major Terrorist Attack Thwarted
Members Speak Out: Impact on Cruise, Air Travel
Airline Policies for Passengers Flying To and From the United Kingdom
Foiled Terror Plot: News to Use
News Analysis: Thursday's Plot Reverberates Onboard

Buyer beware: If you are heading to a European cruise in the next few days and run into airline delays that cause you to miss your ship -- you may not be covered for expenses incurred trying to get to the next port of call.

Indeed, according to Dan McGinnity, vice president of communications for Stevens Point, Wisconsin-based Travel Guard, the uncovering of today's terror plot, which has caused unprecedented delays, "is not a terrorist incident by definition" (terrorist incidents are covered by most major travel policies). "The way we are treating this," he notes, "is that it is a precautionary measure by the British and U.S. airports and airlines. We're considering it a carrier delay."

That's fine news for people who already are en route to (or from) their cruises because Travel Delay, which only applies once you've officially started your trip, will reimburse folks who've suffered a six hour wait or longer, for reasonable hotel, food and transportation expenses.

If, like many Cruise Critic readers, you are planning to fly to your cruise tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday -- and your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, causing you to miss the voyage send-off -- those expenses, which could include air to the next port of call plus hotel and miscellaneous costs, come out of your wallet.

It should be noted that, at least for the time being, airlines have liberalized their change policies. As have some hoteliers.

Indeed, an Access America spokeswoman echoes the Travel Guard position, at least as it relates to airlines. "Most airlines are providing re-routing capabilities and the responsibility is on the traveler," says Emily Porter, vice president of communications for the Richmond-based insurer.

That company, however, is adopting a somewhat more flexible approach when it comes to what is considered coverable under the standard travel policy. "We are definitely liberalizing our policy for travelers who are traveling between the United States and the United Kingdom for today and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday) for reasons that normally don't fall under a coverage delay," she adds. Such as? Policies don't typically cover you if you miss your flight because of a delay at security checkpoints; on these two days, Access America will provide support.

As well, Porter says that consumers who have purchased cruise and air policies will be reimbursed for expenses caused by a delay of six hours or more -- whether the trip "officially" began today -- or starts a few days down the road.

A call to The Berkely Group, an insurer who underwrites the policies that cruise lines offer, was not immediately returned. We'll update you tomorrow.