Explore Travel Insurance

Travel insurance that includes cover for cancellations and delays could provide peace of mind if you paid a lot of money for your next holiday. It could reimburse you for pre-paid or non-refundable expenses in case your trip gets unexpectedly cancelled.

Is travel insurance with cancellation cover something you should consider? We run through all the benefits below.

What is travel insurance for cancellations and flight delays?

Travel insurance can help you recover or limit your losses if unexpected and unforeseen circumstances cause you to cancel or cut short your domestic or international trip. The maximum amount you can claim will depend on the policy limits set by your insurer. While many comprehensive travel insurance policies have unlimited cancellation cover, there may still be sub-limits and exclusions that will affect the amount you can claim.

Cancellation cover or cover of lost deposits and cancellation fees is typically available in both single-trip and annual multi-trip policies and is often included automatically with a comprehensive level of cover or can be purchased as an add-on.

Travel delay cover is separate to cancellation cover as it only covers instances where flight delays require you to pay unexpected, additional expenses for accommodation if you become stranded. Travel insurance can also cover you if you miss out on your already pre-booked accommodation.

Couple sightseeing on a bus with travel insurance

What’s covered by travel cancellation cover?

Provided you’re insured by a travel insurance policy with the appropriate cancellation cover, you may be able to receive reimbursement (up to the cancellation benefit limit) for travel costs such as deposits, pre-payments and cancellation charges for:

  • Accommodation
  • Activities
  • Costs for hired equipment
  • Transport
  • Travel agent cancellation fees.

In short, it can cover the financial losses if an unforeseen event disrupts your travel plans. However, if you cancel because you change your mind, you usually won’t be covered unless you have ‘cancel for any reason’ cover. With this type of cover, a part of your losses will be covered. It’s also important to check with your insurer before cancelling your trip so you understand what you will and won’t be covered for.

Depending on the specific policy, what’s covered may vary significantly. You should always check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for a complete outline.

Examples of circumstances generally covered by insurers

  • You suffer from an unforeseen illness, injury or death. This can extend to your travelling companion (who you booked the trip with) or a close relative as long as they’re an Australian resident
  • You’re made redundant from your full-time job
  • There’s a fire, storm or burglary at your home within a certain time before your departure date
  • There’s a natural disaster or significant weather event at your intended destination
  • Your travel documents are stolen just before your departure
  • Your pre-arranged leave is cancelled by your employer and you’re in permanent employment or a member of emergency services
  • A “Do Not Travel” warning is placed on a destination after you purchase cover.

In all circumstances, you’ll have to provide documentation and evidence (i.e. a medical certificate or police report) that proves what happened for your cancellation claim to be accepted.

What cover options are available?

Depending on your insurer, they may offer a few different policy options and features for you to choose from for trip cancellation and delay cover. But keep in mind that the inclusions and exclusions of the cover options will vary depending on the policy and insurer.

Travel delay cover

Travel delay cover can provide compensation for flight delays by covering meals or accommodation expenses you incur as a result of the delay. In most circumstances you will need to seek compensation from your airline first.

If your flight is cancelled, this won’t compensate you for the cost of the tickets, as your airline will normally offer you an alternate flight

Cancel for any reason cover

Unlike most cancellation cover that excludes reasons such as change of mind, this cover doesn’t have as many restrictions. Although this policy may come at a higher price, cancel for any reason travel insurance will cover you for cancellations beyond unforeseen events.

There are a few restrictions on this type of policy. For example, you won’t be able to cancel within a certain amount of time before your departure date (usually 48-72 hours). Furthermore, cancellation cover typically only reimburses 50-75% of your holiday costs, depending on your policy and insurer.

Furthermore, it’s only available if you purchase within a certain number of days of your initial accommodation deposit or the date you purchased plane tickets (usually 10-30 days). Please note, cancel for any reason cover is not offered by most insurers.

Trip curtailment

If you need to cut your trip short because of an unforeseen event – such as a serious injury, illness or the death of a relative – this policy will cover lost deposits, pre-paid accommodation and other pre-paid travel arrangements. You may even be able to make a travel insurance claim for any additional travel expenses if you need to return home. In most cases you will need to have already paid for your return journey.

Common exclusions from travel insurance that covers cancellations

Most insurers won’t cover you if you want to cancel a trip because you changed your mind or didn’t organise it properly. For example, if you miss your flights because you slept in or misplaced your documents, you won’t be covered for cancellation.

Other general exclusions to your cancellation cover may include:

  • You had to cancel because of a pre-existing medical condition unknown to the insurer
  • Your visa is denied, or you don’t have the right documentation with you while you’re travelling
  • Your flight is cancelled or delayed due to an event within the airline’s control (e.g. a mechanical issue, rescheduling, overbooking) as the airline will typically compensate or reimburse your travel expenses
  • You cancelled a trip because of an unforeseen illness, but you didn’t see a doctor before cancelling the trip
  • You missed your flight due to your own negligence in organising yourself and your trip
  • You broke up with your partner and no longer wish to travel together
  • You tried to claim for snow-related expenses but did not purchase winter sports cover as an additional extra
  • COVID-19 related losses, unless you have COVID-19 (coronavirus) cover that includes cancellations.

Before purchasing a policy, you should always check your insurer’s PDS to find policy-specific exclusions as they can vary between insurers.

Happy family with cancellation cover on holiday in Norway

Frequently asked questions

Does travel insurance cover cancelled or missed flights?

If your flight was cancelled, you can be covered if your airline company doesn’t reschedule your flight or if it cannot be rescheduled, they don’t reimburse you, or only reimburse part of your expenses. In that case, your travel insurance policy may cover you, up to the limits listed in your PDS.

For missed flights, your insurer can cover you if an unexpected event impacts your plans. If you miss your flights because you were disorganised, for example, you are unlikely to be covered. However, if you miss your flights because of the following reasons, you may be covered:

  • You were involved in a motor vehicle accident
  • A natural disaster, severe weather, riots or civil unrest started after you purchased your policy and caused you to miss your flights
  • You have a doctor’s note stating that you are unfit to continue with your trip. The reason you are unfit to continue the trip can’t be because of a pre-existing medical condition, unless this was previously disclosed and covered by your insurer.

If you purchased a flight with frequent flyer points that’s cancelled and your airline doesn’t compensate you, your insurer may also cover the cost of a flight equivalent to the retail price of your missed flight. Keep in mind this may vary depending on your insurer and policy.

What evidence do I need for my travel insurance claim for a cancellation?

When submitting a travel insurance claim, it’s important to include documentation that supports your claim. Evidence might include:

  • Medical certificates or hospital admissions paperwork
  • Police reports
  • Reports from your airline or cruise company
  • Bank or credit card statements
  • Receipts and invoices from pre-paid deposits

What else is included in my travel insurance policy?

Depending on the policy and level of cover in your travel insurance policy, you may be covered for a variety of losses beyond cancellation cover including:

There’ll be policy limits for everything your policy covers, which will be outlined in your PDS. We highly recommend you understand your policy’s inclusions before you take out cover.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

Top tips for cancellation cover from our travel expert, Stephen Zeller

  • Compare and purchase comprehensive travel insurance as soon as you make a booking and pay any deposits to ensure you have cancellation cover from the start should you need to cancel your trip. If you purchase cover after an event that causes you to cancel your trip, you will not be covered.
  • Consider what other cover you may need for medical expenses, cancellation fees, luggage and rental vehicle excess, as well as any additional cover you may need. For example, you will need cruise cover to be covered for cruise-related cancellations. Always read the PDS to understand the cover to make sure you have the cover you need.
  • Do not leave your possessions unattended in a public place as crime (mainly petty theft, pickpocketing and bag snatching) is common, especially in crowded areas and especially during peak holiday periods. Your policy won’t cover you if your belongings were stolen due to your negligence.
  • While many insurers are providing cover for COVID-19 related losses, in most cases you will need to purchase their top tier cover or their comprehensive cover for COVID-19 cover to be included. Look for the COVID-19 icon on our website when you compare products.

Ready to compare travel insurance?

Now that you know more about travel insurance for cancellations and delays, you can see that it can be invaluable protection for unexpected events that can derail your trip.

So, what are you waiting for? Compare travel insurance today! Comparing helps you figure out what will suit your trip, at a price you’re comfortable paying.

Best of all, you can compare a variety of policies and get free quotes from some of Australia’s top insurers when you compare with us. And if you do find a policy you like, we don’t add any hidden fees or mark up the price if you purchase through us.

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