A few weeks ago I purchased a flight to see a relative in Miami this weekend. As luck would have it, a Category 5 hurricane is bearing down on Miami, looks like it will hit Friday which is when I would be arriving (leaving Sunday). My relative is thinking of leaving the state.
I didn't buy travel insurance. But I looked up my credit card's (Citi's) built-in coverage, and here's what it covers:
- Severe weather or natural disaster causes all travel to or from the Covered Traveler’s Trip destination to stop for at least 24 hours.
- A mandatory evacuation is ordered by a government or public safety agency at the Covered Traveler’s Trip destination.
So if it only wreaks a little bit of havoc, closing airports for 18 hours and pushing my flight into Saturday or Sunday (at which point it would be worthless), and only leads to recommended evacuations, I'm not covered. And if it misses Florida entirely but my relative and I already agreed to cancel the trip as a precaution (so my relative could get out of state), I'm not covered.
But all of this depends on how strictly these things are enforced. In an ideal world in the first scenario I could call them up and say "Look, it was only a weekend trip so when I saw an 18 hour delay I decided to cancel" and they would agree with my decision and refund my flight tickets if the airline didn't.
Or in the second scenario I could just call them up and say "Look, Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 hurricane that looked like it was going to hit my relative's home directly, so they left town, and there wasn't anybody for me to visit" and similarly they'd cut me some slack and a refund.
So my question is: How generous are card companies with their trip cancellation/interruption coverage, i.e. how willing are they to decide close cases in the customer's favor? It's easy to imagine them writing 24 hours in their contracts but granting enough goodwill exceptions that the rule is closer to 18 in practice, but it's also easy to imagine them saying "Nope, technically the airport reopened after 23 hours 45 minutes and you're out of luck." I don't really know which to expect.
EDIT: It may be a moot point for Irma because it's a really bad storm so I'll likely hit the literal thresholds, but it's still an interesting question in general. A follow-up question is whether travel insurance (purchased from Expedia or directly from a broker) is generally better than built-in credit card coverage (though unlike the rest of my question that is straightforward to research).