What You Need to Know to Cancel Your Vacation & Receive a Refund

As a travel agent, I understand the importance of traveling with travel insurance.  I also know how risky it is to travel without it.  That is why I consistently offer travel insurance to my clients, multiple times, to encourage them to protect their investment as well as themselves.

I’ve heard so many times, “I know I am going on this trip, so I don’t need travel insurance.” The basis of that statement is not knowing the many benefits that travel insurance provides.  Many people have the mentality that travel insurance is just for canceling your vacation.  But it is for so much more.  Travelers are often surprised to find out that travel insurance not only covers trip cancellation, but also:

  • Trip Interruption
  • Trip Delay
  • Missed Connection
  • Baggage Loss
  • Baggage Delay
  • Medical Expenses
  • Emergency Evacuation

Since trip cancellation is the number one reason why people want to purchase travel insurance, let’s discuss everything you need to know about it.

Trip cancellation provides reimbursement for non-refundable deposits and payments made to a vacation package. If you decide not to go on your vacation, you want to be able to cancel at any time, for any reason, and automatically get a refund.  It doesn’t always work that way unless you have travel insurance, and there are still some things to consider.

Here’s what’s important:

  • There are unforeseeable problems that can arise that can cause you to cancel your vacation.  If you haven’t learned anything from the Coronavirus pandemic yet, you should understand that no matter how confident you are that you’re actually going on vacation, there are unexpected emergencies that could cause you not to go. Even if it’s not COVID-19, it could be a death in the family, a child being sick, losing your job, or anything beyond your control.  If you do not have travel insurance, you may be unable to get a refund.  Therefore, let’s get it out of our heads that there is nothing that can stop us from going on vacation.
  • Decide upfront if you want your money back if you cancel.  Once you have accepted the notion that things outside of your control can prevent you from going on vacation, ask yourself, “If I decide to cancel, am I okay with losing all the money, do I want my money back, or am I okay with a travel voucher?”  These are decisions that you need to decide upfront before booking a vacation.
  • Know what is refundable and nonrefundable.  There is a misconception that you can cancel your vacation for any reason and receive a full refund of any monies paid.  Before applying any money to vacation, ask upfront if any portion of your vacation is nonrefundable without travel insurance.  You will need to know this information before making a deposit.  With this knowledge and information, you can make an informed decision on how important purchasing travel insurance is or isn’t to you.
  • Timing is everything.  Before applying any money to your vacation package, you will need to know what timeframe you have to purchase travel insurance to cancel for any reason.  To be able to “Cancel for Any Reason” or have “Pre-Existing Conditions” covered, most insurance policies require you to purchase travel insurance at the time you book your vacation or between 7 – 14 days of paying your first deposit.  That’s why it is very important to gather this information from your travel advisor.
  • Know when it’s too late.  If you purchase travel insurance after you have booked a vacation and the 7 – 14 days have passed, you lose the option to “Cancel for Any Reason.”  Another time when it is too late to purchase travel insurance is after something happens.  For example, if you have a vacation planned to Jamaica and the National Hurricane Center announces a hurricane. Then you decide to purchase travel insurance because of the hurricane.  Should you cancel, the cost of your vacation is not protected.  It’s like having a car wreck and then calling State Farm to purchase car insurance and you expect your wreck to be covered. Not gonna happen.

A lot can happen before your vacation gets going, and no matter how determined you are to travel, things out of your control can stop you from traveling.  If you expect to receive a full refund when you cancel your vacation for any reason you see fit, purchasing travel insurance at the right time may help protect your travel investment.

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