What Is Trip Interruption Insurance?

If you find yourself in the hospital during your trip, trip interruption insurance may be useful.
••• Photo © Mike Simons / Getty Images News / Getty Images

What, Exactly, Is Trip Interruption Insurance?

Trip interruption insurance covers you if you become ill, are injured or die after your travel begins. Trip interruption insurance also covers you if a family member or travel companion gets sick, is injured or dies once your trip has commenced. Depending on which coverage you choose, your travel insurance policy's trip interruption clause may reimburse you for all or part of the prepaid cost of your trip, or it may just pay enough to cover the change fees for your airfare home.

Trip Interruption Insurance Specifics

Most policies specify that you (or the ill or injured party) must see a doctor and obtain a letter from him or her stating that you are too ill or disabled to continue your travel before you cancel the rest of your trip. If you do not do this, your trip interruption claim may be rejected.

The definition of "travel companion" may include the requirement that the companion must be listed on a travel contract or other registration document. In some cases, the companion must also intend to share accommodations with you.

Some insurance companies will pay all or even 150 percent of your nonrefundable trip deposits and trip costs. Others will pay up to a certain amount, typically $500, to cover the cost of changing your return airline, train or bus ticket so you can get home. In either case, the trip interruption must be the result of a covered reason, such as illness, death in the family or a situation that seriously threatens your personal safety.

These covered reasons will be listed on your travel insurance policy certificate.

Trip interruption coverage may also protect you against a whole host of problems, provided they take place after your trip begins. These problems may include weather issues, terrorist attacks, strikes, jury duty, an accident en route to your trip departure point, and more.

The list of covered events varies from policy to policy. Carefully read the policy certificate before you pay for that policy. 

Trip Interruption Insurance Tips

  • Before you buy a policy, be sure you understand what kind of documentation you will need in order to make a claim. Save all paperwork related to your trip, including contracts, receipts, tickets and emails, in case your trip is interrupted and you need to file a claim with your travel insurance provider.
  • Travel insurance providers will not cover known events, such as named tropical storms or volcanic eruptions. Once a storm has a name or an ash cloud has formed, for example, you will not be able to buy a policy that covers trip interruptions caused by that event.
  • Find out how "imminent threat to your personal safety" is defined by your travel insurance provider. Some policies will not cover imminent threats unless the US Department of State issues a Travel Warning regarding that threat, and the Travel Warning must be issued after the start date of your trip.
  • Look for a policy that covers situations that are likely to arise at your destination. For example, if you are traveling to Florida in August, you should look for trip interruption insurance that covers delays caused by hurricanes.
  • Carefully read your entire insurance policy certificate  before paying for trip interruption insurance.
  • If you think you might need to cut your trip short for a reason that is not listed on your policy, consider buying Cancel For Any Reason coverage, too.

What Is the Difference Between Trip Interruption and Travel Delay Insurance?

Some travel insurance providers classify situations caused by everything except illness, injury or death as "travel delay" rather than "trip interruption," so you must look at both types of travel insurance as you investigate possible insurance policy options. You may decide that you need only one of these types of coverage, or you may need both.

If you are confused, don't hesitate to call your insurance agency or contact your online travel insurance provider. It is far better to clear up questions or concerns before your trip.