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In destinations around the world, hot days are getting hotter and they’re also becoming far more frequent.In fact, according to The Center For Climate And Energy Solutions, Earth broke or tied its record for the hottest day on record four days running. At the same time, the planet is experiencing fewer colder days.These changes have a variety of impacts and consequences the world over, including making it more challenging or even risky when traveling. In the most extreme cases, the risks have involved climate change-driven hurricanes and deadly wildfires. But the changes unfolding globally also include popular attractions limiting their hours of operation or closing entirely on certain days, tourists being driven indoors for much of the day to avoid excessive temperatures, and the need to change destinations entirely if the weather is simply untenable. The bottom line? The mere act of traveling has become exponentially more unpredictable. And with climate change expected to become more intense, that reality is not likely to change any time soon.So what role does travel insurance play when it comes to extreme heat? Can it help offset some of the challenges and setbacks travelers will experience? Here’s a closer look.
The good news is that travel insurance can compensate for some of the trip impacts that may be experienced amid global warming. Medical emergencies are the primary example of when a policy might come in handy."The Emergency Medical and Medical Evacuation benefits of travel insurance can cover travelers who experience a heat-related medical issue during their trip,” Steven Benna, from the travel insurance marketplace Squaremouth, told TravelPulse.Travelers who suffer heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or other climate-related medical emergencies for example, may be covered by their travel insurance policy. Plans with the Emergency Medical and Medical Evacuation benefits can reimburse travelers for medical costs, such as hospital bills and ambulance rides, if they need treatment for a heat-related issue.However, that doesn’t mean you have a blank check to spend excessively in such situations. “Your travel insurance provider may determine the best way to transport a sick or injured customer and this transportation can include helicopters, air ambulances and commercial flights with medical escorts,” Daniel Durazo, director of external communications for Allianz Travel Insurance, told TravelPulse.
PHOTO: Man toweling off in the summer heat. (photo via PraewBlackWhile/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
The good news is that travel insurance coverage can apply if extreme heat impacts your flight. This would be the case if mechanical issues delay a flight for at least three to 12 hours, says Benna.On the other hand, if you’ve decided after booking a trip that the temperatures in your intended destination may simply be too much to bear, or even dangerous to your health perhaps, insurance reimbursement may be more limited. That is of course, unless you purchase a broader insurance policy.“Travelers with a ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policy may be covered if they no longer want to travel due to extreme heat in their destination,” explains Benna.
Cancel For Any Reason is an optional upgrade that provides the most flexibility for travelers to cancel, and can often cover cancellations that are not included on standard trip cancellation policies. In some cases, this benefit reimburses up to 75 percent of the insured trip cost. But this type of policy also often requires the trip to be canceled at least two days before the scheduled departure date, says Benna.
It's not a policy option that comes cheap either. In general,
adding Cancel For Any Reason increases a policy's premium by
about 50 percent, said Benna.
"The average cost of a policy with CFAR this year is 52 percent
higher than a standard Trip Cancellation policy," said Benna.
While policies won’t cover expenses if you suddenly decide against visiting a destination that’s too hot, coverage will likely kick-in if there’s an extreme event. “If a wildfire or other natural disaster makes your destination uninhabitable, you may be covered for the cancellation or interruption of your trip,” says Durazo. “If your hotel or Airbnb closes or is evacuated due to a wildfire, you may be able to cancel your trip or leave early and receive a refund of your unused, pre-paid expenses.”However, underscoring Benna’s advice, Durazo says standard travel insurance products typically don’t allow policy holders to cancel or interrupt a trip simply due to weather.
The answer to this question really depends on what you’re hoping to achieve with the insurance policy or the type of protection you’re seeking. In other words, think carefully about your goals and main concerns before purchasing a policy. “Travelers who are concerned about needing medical coverage while traveling to a destination impacted by extreme heat should consider travel insurance,” says Benna. “However, cancellation coverage due to heat is limited.”Lastly, if you’re considering purchasing a Cancel For Any Reason policy, you’ll need to do so within a specific timeline. Cancel For Any Reason is a time-sensitive benefit that is only available for 10 to 21 days after making your initial trip deposit.
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Mia Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has two decades of experience. Most recently she worked as a staff writer for...
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