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government shutdown travel insurance

Many individuals and families travel soon after the New Year for a variety of reasons. The period after the winter holidays can be a time to rest and relax on vacation or visit family and friends before having to return to work. Business flyers are also back in the skies to meet clients on location and strike deals in person.

During this busy post-holiday travel period, one might expect long lines but probably not issues caused by a U.S. federal government shutdown.  The current federal government shutdown puts increased stress on both the government workers who remain unpaid while they continue to work and travelers trying to keep their travel plans intact.

To be aware of some of the issues one may face while traveling during the current and continuing federal government shutdown, please consider the following:

The TSA Backlog 

Reports from prominent media organizations have indicated that there is a TSA “sick out” that is taking place at airports. The TSA “sick out” is a phenomenon where the agency is experiencing an increasing number of workers calling in sick because the employees are not being paid but are asked to keep working. It is reported that many TSA employees earn an average of $30,000 or less and thus they rely heavily on their income to meet their expenses. 

Due to the lack of TSA agents reporting to work, large airport hubs such as the Houston and Miami International Airports have made the difficult decision to close certain TSA checkpoints within the airports and to temporarily close certain terminals to minimize negative customer experiences. 

Issues within TSA may compound over time as security agents leave to find other jobs that may provide them with a stable and steady stream of income. With fewer TSA workers on the job, delays at the airport are bound to increase and flights may also be cancelled. 

Air Traffic Controllers 

Reports state that more than 9,000 air traffic controllers under the Federal Aviation Administration have been reporting to work expecting to earn nothing until the government shutdown is finally resolved. 

A portion of these air traffic controllers have been working for many years now and may choose to retire en masse if the shutdown continues. Although a mass exodus of air traffic controllers is not necessarily expected, it is a possibility that airports have to consider. Like other government employees, most air traffic controllers cannot sustain $0 paychecks for long and could reasonably seek other employment that is less stressful and guarantees a steady income. Highly trained air traffic controllers are difficult to replace and directly affect the ability of airports to safely and effectively manage the high volume of travel in January and in the months to come.

Lack of Government Services

Once travelers reach their destinations, they should be aware that many federal government services are no longer available. For example, if you planned to visit a national park on your travels, you may find the roads impassible due to unplowed snow, restrooms closed or dirty, trashcans overflowing with garbage and, most unfortunately, vandalism within the park itself. Without federal workers to manage, clean and protect our national parks, your visit may not be enjoyable or even possible.

Individuals Should Compare and Purchase Travel Insurance to Protect Their Travels In These Uncertain Times 

While it is important for travelers to always protect their trip investment with travel insurance anytime they travel, keep in mind that standard trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage won’t offer a government shutdown as a covered reason – you would need a Cancel For Any Reason upgrade to cover that specific scenario.

Safe travels!

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