There are plenty of things in life that seem great in theory but manage to disappoint in reality—Netflix original movies, most cupcakes, surprise birthday parties—and, often, travel insurance. If there's one silver lining to having a hurricane or earthquake ruin your vacation, it's the thought of getting reimbursed for your non-refundable payments that you insured with a top-of-the-line plan. But while you may expect insurance companies to quickly deliver your well-deserved (andy maybe well-needed) funds, it can often take more than a week for you to receive a check in the mail. Some forward-thinking companies have now taken steps to speed things up, most notably Allianz Travel Insurance, which promises to get cash in the hands of policyholders within minutes, not days.
What makes Allianz's promises to policyholders possible is its launch of the SmartBenefits program earlier this fall. Customers who opt into SmartBenefits when signing up for a policy can rest assured that if their plane is delayed for a reason covered by the plan or if their luggage goes missing, they’ll get an immediate payout. Instead of filing the claim and waiting days for it to clear, SmartBenefits will deposit cash (up to $100 per day for each person covered on the policy) into the bank account provided by the policyholder within 24 hours. That means if you find yourself stranded for a few hours in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, you have some extra cash to buy a Cinnabon and a Paula Hawkins paperback.
Of course, to take advantage of any travel insurance policy—through Allianz or any other provider—the reason for your trip cancellation must be covered by the policy. With most travel insurance policies, you can usually count on the following events to be covered:
- An unexpected illness (not part of a pre-existing medical condition) striking you or your travel partner, making you unfit for travel, as determined by a licensed physician
- The hospitalization or death of a family member
- A natural disaster making your destination uninhabitable or inaccessible
- Your passport is lost or stolen
These examples are just that—examples, and not definitive rules of what's covered. Before purchasing travel insurance, you should be able to recite from memory what's covered by the policy.
If you want to make sure your travel plans are insured for any reason whatsoever—whether a traffic jam on the highway delays your arrival to the airport and you miss your flight or you just took a little longer than expected in the bathroom that morning—then you need to purchase a plan with a rider, which allows you to cancel for any reason. Because these "cancel anytime" policies cover literally anything that could cause you to miss your flight, they typically cost 30% to 40% more than a basic policy.