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Protect Your Travel Plans: Trip Cancellation Insurance Explained and the 5 Best Policies

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...
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Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
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You’ve booked your flight, hotel, and tours and are ready to go on your trip — but what happens if you can’t make it? Unexpected circumstances can pop up that force you to cancel your trip, such as illness or natural disasters. If you can’t get refunds from travel suppliers, trip cancellation insurance can help.

Let’s look at what trip cancellation covers, whether you need a trip cancellation policy, and what you should know before shopping for a plan.

The 5 Best Trip Cancellation Insurance Policies

You’ll have plenty of options if you want a cheap, standalone trip cancellation policy, comprehensive travel coverage, or Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage.

Consider these trip cancellation insurance policies that offer good value and coverage, quoted for a 35-year-old visiting Mexico on a $1,500 trip in September 2023:

Travel Insurance PlanBest ForWhat’s Covered
battleface Discovery PlanCheap trip cancellation insuranceTrip cancellation
IMG iTravelInsured Travel EssentialExtensive trip cancellation reasonsTrip cancellation and interruption, travel delay 
TinLeg BasicComprehensive trip cancellation coverageTrip cancellation and interruption, travel delay, baggage delay, emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation
Aegis Go Ready Trip CancellationLayoff protectionTrip cancellation, including employment layoff coverage
Seven Corners Trip Protection BasicCancel for Any ReasonCancellation, interruption, COVID-19, medical evacuation, medical emergencies, CFAR

Best Cheap Trip Cancellation Insurance: battleface

We were quoted just $20 for a battleface Discovery Plan with trip cancellation benefits up to $1,500. But that’s all it offers — you won’t get trip interruption coverage, medical coverage, evacuation, loss or delay, or other benefits offered by comprehensive travel insurance plans.

Best Extensive Trip Cancellation Reasons: IMG

IMG’s iTravelnsured Travel Essential plan isn’t CFAR coverage, but it has multiple covered reasons for cancellation. You’re covered for foreign and domestic terrorism, financial default, medical reasons, and accommodations made uninhabitable. Our $35.92 quote offered up to 100% of the total trip cost for trip cancellation and 125% for trip interruption. 

Best Comprehensive Trip Cancellation Coverage: TinLeg

TinLeg’s Basic travel insurance plan covers up to 100% of your total trip cost for trip cancellation, but you’ll also get other major travel insurance coverages. This plan we were quoted $41 for offers trip interruption, travel delay, baggage delay, emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation, and more. 

Best Layoff Protection: Aegis

Like the battleface plan, Aegis Go Ready Trip Cancellation insurance covers up to 100% of your trip cost if you need to cancel — but not much else. But a big value-add is employment layoff coverage, which allows you to get reimbursed if you need to cancel your trip due to involuntary layoff or termination of employment. We were quoted $45 for this plan.

Best Cancel for Any Reason: Seven Corners

The Seven Corners Trip Protection Basic plan offers optional CFAR coverage, which reimburses up to 75% of your trip cost for reasons not otherwise covered by your policy. Regular trip cancellation and interruption coverage offer reimbursement of up to 100% of your trip cost. Our quoted cost for this plan came to $58.

What Is Trip Cancellation Insurance?

Trip cancellation insurance is a type of travel insurance. With trip cancellation coverage, you can get reimbursement for nonrefundable prepaid travel expenses if you need to cancel your trip before departure. Trip cancellation is one of the main coverage areas for travel insurance, the other being medical emergency coverage.

Many comprehensive travel insurance policies offer trip cancellation coverage; standalone trip cancellation insurance is less common than comprehensive travel policies. Travel credit cards may offer trip cancellation coverage as a cardholder benefit, as well.

How Trip Cancellation Insurance Works

Trip cancellation insurance kicks in if you must cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances such as an illness, injury, or other covered reasons. You can get reimbursed for nonrefundable expenses if you have travel cancellation insurance and need to cancel your trip.

Covered nonrefundable expenses typically include:

  • Buses
  • Cruises
  • Flights
  • Hotels and vacation rentals
  • Rental cars
  • Tours
  • Trains

Travel insurance policies with trip cancellation coverage often include trip interruption benefits. Similar to trip cancellation coverage, trip interruption benefits can help you recoup your costs if you need to delay or cut your trip short due to covered reasons.

When To Buy Trip Cancellation Insurance

You can usually purchase trip cancellation insurance up to the day before your scheduled departure. Still, you’ll get more value if you purchase insurance as soon as you make your first trip deposit. That way, your travel plans are covered from the start.

Trip Cancellation Insurance Covered Reasons

Unless you opt for Cancel for Any Reason travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance only applies to covered cancellation reasons. For example, you can’t use trip cancellation insurance to cancel your trip for a refund because there’s rain forecasted for your beach vacation. But, you could get reimbursement if a named hurricane forms after you purchased your policy.

Common reasons covered by trip cancellation insurance include:

  • Death, including the death of a family member or traveling companion
  • Government travel warnings or evacuation orders for your destination
  • Home damage or burglary
  • Illness, injury, or quarantine that makes you or a covered travel companion unfit to travel
  • Legal obligations such as jury duty or subpoena
  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or floods affect travel operations at your destination
  • Terrorist incidents at home or your destination
  • Travel supplier cancellation
  • Unexpected military duty
  • Unexpected pregnancy complications
  • Unexpected work obligations

These are common covered reasons for trip cancellation insurance, but policies vary in coverage. Reviewing the terms and conditions of your trip cancellation insurance is a good idea so you understand what’s covered.

You should also understand what’s explicitly not covered. For example, changing your mind is not a covered reason on a standard trip cancellation insurance policy. And trip cancellation insurance typically doesn’t cover foreseeable events, routine health treatments, substance abuse, sporting events, mental health, acts of war, self-harm, or dangerous activities such as skydiving.

Cancel for Any Reason Trip Cancellation Coverage

Need to expand your list of covered cancellation reasons? Cancel for Any Reason trip cancellation insurance is an option. 

You can use CFAR to cancel your trip for reasons not covered by trip cancellation insurance, such as changing your mind, fear of travel, unexpected obligations, weather, or budget concerns.

The catch? You’ll pay more for CFAR coverage, and it only reimburses up to 50% to 75% of your nonrefundable travel expenses. Generally, trip cancellation insurance offers 100% reimbursement for covered expenses. 

The other main stipulation is that you’ll need to purchase your coverage within a specified period, usually within 10 to 21 days of your first trip deposit. And to get reimbursement under CFAR, you must cancel your travel within the cancellation timeframe, usually at least 48 hours from your scheduled departure.

Annual Travel Insurance

Most annual travel insurance policies, also known as multi-trip policies, cover trip cancellation for multiple trips taken within the policy period, usually 12 months. You’ll also typically get coverage for medical expenses.

Trip Cancellation vs. Trip Interruption

Trip cancellation insurance covers your nonrefundable travel expenses if you have to cancel before departure, while trip interruption covers your trip costs after departure. For example, trip interruption coverage kicks in if you get injured while traveling and have to go home early.

Is Trip Cancellation Insurance Worth It?

Woman Jumping Wearing Green Backpack
Image Credit: Sebastian Voortman via Pexels

Trip cancellation insurance can be worth it if you have nonrefundable travel expenses and there’s a risk you’ll have to cancel your travel due to unforeseen events. It offers financial protection if you’re traveling to a destination with potential risks such as natural disasters or political instability — or if you have risk factors at home, such as unpredictable work commitments or family members with health conditions that could interfere with travel. 

If you plan an expensive trip with nonrefundable bookings or deposits, trip cancellation is probably worth it. But if your travel is inexpensive, or most of your travel expenses are refundable, you might not need trip cancellation insurance.

Consider the cost of insurance, the likelihood you’ll need to cancel, and the cost of nonrefundable travel at stake when you decide if trip cancellation is worth it.

What Trip Cancellation Insurance Costs

A basic travel insurance policy with trip cancellation coverage generally costs between 5% to 10% of your trip costs. So a travel insurance policy for a $5,000 trip would cost $250 to $500. Your costs will be higher if you opt for CFAR coverage.

Factors that influence how much your trip cancellation insurance costs include traveler age, trip expenses, trip length, coverage options, and how many people you need to cover.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy with emergency medical or lost baggage coverage and trip cancellation coverage can offer additional value.

If you’re mainly concerned with trip cancellation coverage, look for cheap travel insurance policies that still offer this coverage, but have either nonexistent or low coverage limits for other coverage areas, such as lost baggage or medical evacuation.

Credit Cards With Trip Cancellation Insurance

You might not have to pay for trip cancellation insurance if you have the right credit card. Some credit cards offer trip cancellation and interruption coverage as a cardholder benefit. 

Credit cards with trip cancellation coverage generally provide between $2,000 to $10,000 per person in trip cancellation benefits, often covering trip interruption. 

For example, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers cardholders $2,000 in trip cancellation or interruption benefits per person. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, cardholders get up to $10,000 per person in trip cancellation coverage with a maximum of $20,000 per trip and a $40,000 limit per 12-month period.

If your nonrefundable travel costs exceed the covered benefit offered by your credit card, you may prefer to purchase separate trip cancellation insurance.

Hot Tip:

If you only need trip cancellation and interruption coverage, your credit card may have adequate protection benefits.

Choosing Trip Cancellation Insurance 

Consider these factors as you shop for a trip cancellation insurance policy:

  • Cost: Compare policy premiums and consider how the cost fits into your overall travel budget.
  • Coverage Amount: Your trip cancellation coverage should cover all of your nonrefundable prepaid trip expenses. But a policy with too much coverage could be more costly than necessary.
  • Policy Limits: Know the policy’s limits, including deductibles, exclusions, and limitations.
  • Covered Reasons: A policy that offers a variety of covered cancellation reasons offers the most protection.
  • CFAR Coverage: Understand whether CFAR coverage is included in the policy and its additional cost.
  • Reputation and Customer Service: Read travel insurance reviews to learn about the experiences policyholders have had, whether they’re good or bad.
  • Refund Policies: Understand what happens if you cancel your policy before the trip.
Hot Tip:

Travel insurance comparison sites such as Squaremouth make it easy to enter your trip details and get quotes from multiple insurance providers.

Final Thoughts

Trip cancellation coverage can provide valuable peace of mind if you’re concerned about losing nonrefundable prepaid travel expenses. It can be worth it if there’s a chance you’ll have to cancel your travel plans, and you’ll lose money on nonrefundable costs. Before you choose a trip cancellation policy, consider factors including cost, coverage, and cancellation reasons, and look at what’s covered with any credit cards you hold.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is trip cancellation insurance for?

Trip cancellation coverage offers financial protection if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected circumstances. You can get reimbursement for nonrefundable prepaid expenses related to covered travel if you have to cancel your trip.

Is trip cancellation covered in travel insurance?

Most travel insurance policies cover trip cancellation coverage. Other common coverage areas include trip interruption and medical emergencies.

Does trip insurance cover cancellation for any reason?

Travel insurance can offer CFAR coverage, usually as an optional add-on. You can select a CFAR policy if you want more flexibility in canceling your trip and receiving reimbursement.

When should I buy trip cancellation insurance?

It’s best to purchase trip cancellation as soon as you have any money at risk on your trip, usually as soon as you book travel. Buying trip cancellation insurance after booking covers you for unexpected circumstances that could cause you to cancel your trip.

Jessica Merritt's image

About Jessica Merritt

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.


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