Does travel insurance cover coming home early?
When you ask a question like, “Does travel insurance cover coming home early?”, the answer from an insurance company is invariably going to be, “It depends on why you’re coming home early.”
In other words, what prompted you to end your trip earlier than planned, or in travel insurance terms “interrupt,” your trip?
Travel insurance carriers have long, detailed lists of covered reasons for coming home early – a.k.a. interrupting a trip.
If your reason for coming home is one of those covered reasons, you could be covered. If it’s not, then you’re not. In other words, you can’t just decide you’d like to go home earlier than planned and be covered for any lost deposits or fees charged for an early return.
That part of things is pretty cut-and-dried. When it comes to the covered reasons themselves, things can get a little murky.
For one thing, not every travel insurer has the same lists of covered reasons – and actually, their covered reasons may change from product to product.
A cheaper plan may have fewer covered reasons for trip interruption, for instance. (You can also look at it from a glass-half-full perspective: a more expensive plan may have more covered reasons.)
The covered reasons generally fall into five categories:
Illness or death
If you or someone you’re traveling with becomes so sick that you have to be hospitalized, or if one of you dies, that’s often a covered reason for interrupting your trip.
It bears repeating that you have to be really sick for it to be considered a covered reason for trip interruption. The common cold is not going to cut it. Visiting a doctor or hospital that confirms and documents you unfit for continuing your travels is a key piece to this coverage.
Also, this doesn’t just apply to the traveler but also to a close family member (or sometimes a business partner as well) back home. Parents, step-parents, children, and grandparents are often included. Read the definition of family member in the plan you want to purchase to ensure you get the broadest coverage.
For information specific to pre-existing medical conditions and the impact on coverage, refer to the section Are Pre-Existing Conditions Covered below.
If you can’t get to your destination or stay at your destination due to a weather event, that could be a covered reason for trip interruption. (You also may be covered for something catastrophic happening to your house back home that makes it uninhabitable, forcing you to return home earlier than planned. Think Floridians during hurricane season.)
The one big exception: If you buy a plan to cover travel to a destination after a storm has been named, and that storm strikes your destination. It’s now too late for trip interruption coverage. The insurance company considers that event no longer to be unforeseen. There is ample warning for you not to travel there.
If an airline goes out of business or is crippled by a strike, or equipment failure causes you to miss more than half your trip, those may be covered reasons for coming home early.
It’s important to note, many travel insurance providers keep a list of travel companies or travel transportation providers they won’t cover for interruption because they have already filed for bankruptcy, yet are still operating with the future uncertain. Consult those lists and save yourself the risk. You can check out BHTP’s Alert List here, and more on this in the topic of financial default below.
Fear of terrorism is not a covered reason for trip interruption; however, actual terrorist incidents in a city on your insured itinerary may be covered reasons for interruption. Check the plan and see how this is handled.
If you lose your job while you’re traveling, you may be covered for interrupting your trip. Same if you’re called into work on an emergency basis.
Finally, a merger or acquisition, or a catastrophic event making your company unsuitable for business can be covered reasons for interruption.
It’s always a good idea to read a policy before you buy it and fully understand the valid reasons for coming home early outlined in that policy. It may not be fun, but it sure can save a lot of headaches.