Winter Travel Chaos: How Travel Insurance can Help in Case of Sickness, Weather and More

Whether you’re escaping the cold on a trip to the tropics or headed to the slopes for a ski weekend, traveling during the winter season comes with its own set of hazards. Smart travelers know that getting caught without a travel insurance plan could be a costly opt-out, especially when winter brings illness and travel delays.

Last winter was one of the most severe flu seasons in recent memory and winter storms packed a wallop, causing trip cancellations and travel delays across the country. Read below for risks to be aware of when traveling this winter season, how travel insurance might help alleviate those risks, plus some winter travel tips.

Also read our Guide to Understand, Purchase and Use Trip Insurance

Travel Insurance for Flu Season

Flu season can have serious consequences for a trip. For instance, just before you expect to leave on a vacation, you or someone in your family gets too sick to travel. You could be out of luck if you have non-refundable airline tickets, hotel reservations or other prepaid trip costs and can’t get a refund. One in six U.S. adults have been forced to cancel, interrupt, or delay their travel plans, and medical conditions are often the cause. But, a travel insurance plan can help you in this situation.

Generali Global Assistance travel insurance plans include coverage in case you or a traveling companion gets sick and you need to cancel or interrupt your trip. You can be reimbursed for unused, non-refundable, pre-paid trip costs that you lose. Keep in mind that the illness must occur after you purchase your plan, the sick person must seek the in-person treatment of a physician and can’t travel, according to a physician. You can also be covered if a non-traveling family member is hospitalized and you are unable to make the trip.

The 2018 flu season was one of the most severe in the last 40 years, with record hospitalization rates and more than 80,000 deaths.  The flu season can last from October to May, but often peaks in January and February.

Typically, people over the age of 65 are the most likely to be hospitalized during flu season. Travelers in that age range should be especially aware of winter travel risks and how travel insurance can help.

Also read: Does Travel Insurance Cover the Flu or Other Illness?

Watch the Ice on the Steps

With winter weather comes the increased risk of injury from falling on ice and snow, shoveling snow or de-icing your car, accidents from winter sports and the rate of car accidents goes sky-high in this season. Each year, more than 418,000 people are injured in weather-related car crashes in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control ranks falls as the top cause of injury among older Americans, a situation that becomes even more concerning during the winter.

Similar to illness, a travel insurance plan can cover the cost of your trip if you’re injured before or during your trip, and you can be reimbursed for lost trip costs and medical treatment on a trip. Whether or not you insure your trip, you should follow these tips to avoid common winter accidents that could throw a wrench in your travel plans.    

Also read: The 6 Top Travel Emergencies and How To Deal With Them

Winter Storms

Winter storms are inevitable. They happen every year, and whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, if you get caught in one, chances are you’ll experience some sort of travel delay.

Bad weather is always a risk when flying, but if a winter storm hits, flight cancellations and delays are bound to happen and you may take on some unplanned costs. If this happens, travel insurance can provide coverage for additional expenses to help get you to your destination as planned or back home, in addition to reimbursing for lost trip costs. Coverage is also included for certain out-of-pocket costs, such as meals, local transportation or even additional lodging or parking charges.

Check this list of the U.S. airports with the most weather delays to see if you can avoid connecting in those airports during the winter.

If a weather event, like a blizzard is foreseeable, then travel insurance may not cover it. If the plan is purchased after a storm is named, coverage is typically not provided for losses resulting from that named storm. Be sure to read the policy and know exactly what the travel insurance plan you buy covers.    

Explore the World’s Coolest Winter Snow and Ice Festivals

Winter Sports

Whether you’re traveling to take part in wintertime sporting activities or are ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or any of the other cold weather sports before your trip, one wrong slip can send you to the hospital and put a quick end to your fun trip activities!

Travel insurance provides coverage for medical expenses and emergency medical evacuations if you’re injured during your trip—a potentially important safeguard for winter sport travelers.

Our Preferred and Premium plans include coverages especially helpful if you travel with skis, snowboards or other sporting equipment. Get coverage in case your equipment is damaged, lost, stolen or delayed, plus reimbursement of your rentals and other covered expenses incurred while your equipment is lost.

See how travel insurance can help on a ski trip


Airlines are updating technology each year and doing a better job of handling bags so they don’t get lost as often. But, all that progress can be quickly lost during the chaos of a winter storm. Just last year, tens of thousands of bags were lost at JFK Airport during a storm, and even 11 days afterwards, hundreds of travelers were still left without their baggage.

47% of airline’s delayed bags in 2016 were misplaced during transfer.

The best tip for avoiding such a fate is to fly direct whenever possible, and if a connection is necessary during the winter, try to connect through an airport that isn’t usually hit by winter weather. Or, follow these tips to only pack a carry-on and still bring the winter weather clothing you need.

It may also be helpful to have travel insurance with baggage coverage in case your bags are lost, damaged or stolen. Generali travel insurance includes this with each of our Standard, Preferred, and Premium plans. This means you can also receive coverage if you have to buy additional personal effects because your bags were delayed.

From storms to the flu, travel is all the more unpredictable during the winter months. And, the best way to plan ahead for unforeseen travel mishaps is to get a travel insurance plan as soon as you book your trip.

Also read: What to Do if Your Luggage is Stolen on Vacation


Travel insurance is great for winter travel
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