From snowstorms to hurricanes, bad weather can wreak havoc on your travel plans. In the United States, there are no federal laws that outline or protect any rights that travelers have when their flights are cancelled, leaving them at the mercy of their airlines’ specific regulations. While rights vary considerably from carrier to carrier, one commonality is that airlines are not responsible for any losses that you may incur for missing your flight, especially if the flight was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Sure, you can try to get a refund for your cancelled flight or try to secure a seat on the next available flight. But what if the airline does not have any flights departing to your destination on that same day, or if the next available flight is fully booked? Your perfectly planned trip could be completely ruined before it ever begins, and, to make matters worse, you won’t get any meal or hotel vouchers for flights that are cancelled due to something beyond the airlines’ control, including weather. While it is hard to predict what your next step may be, it’s guaranteed that you’ll end up spending more money.
Your flight isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when bad weather strikes. What can happen to your hotel reservation? That completely depends, too. While hotels have continually adopted stricter policies when it comes to cancellations, some hotels may be able to cancel, alter, or even preserve your reservation (as opposed to marking you as a no-show) if you can get in touch with them right away, but it won’t always be for free. For the most part, the status of your hotel reservation simply boils down to how sympathetic the person on the other line is to your circumstances. Moreover, if you booked your hotel through a third-party site, you could be subject to different policies altogether. In short, you will, more likely than not, have to pay for your hotel even if you’re not staying in it.
While you can’t control the weather, you can certainly ensure that you’re protected no matter what’s in the forecast. Many travel insurance plans have travel protection coverage, which can help you get reimbursed for prepaid travel costs even if your trip is cancelled or delayed. Trip cancellation coverage can help you recover most, if not all, of your nonrefundable sunken travel costs due to bad weather, and trip interruption coverage will do the same in the event of an evacuation due to a natural disaster. Travel insurance allows you to have peace of mind even when your trip doesn’t go as planned.