As heavy spring rains caused major European rivers like the Elbe and the Danube to overflow their banks, serious flooding has hit parts of Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. With more than 20 deaths and extensive damage to structures, the floods also caused the cancellation of several river cruises, including cruises from Budapest, Hungary, and those that call on the popular German port Passau.
While European vacation plans aren't on the top of anyone's list of concerns at a time like this, we've found that the question of travel insurance often arises in the wake of natural disasters. It's a good time to remind readers of Budget Travel's recommendations where insurance is concerned.
In general, Budget Travel does not recommend travel insurance. The cost of rebooking a flight will be less than an insurance premium, and hotels and rental car agencies rarely have strict cancellation policies. However, if you've booked a package tour or cruise, travel insurance may be a good idea. Familiarize yourself with the company's cancellation policy so you know what your risks are. In the case of Viking River Cruises, for instance, cancellations in the 29 days preceding your cruise will result in your losing your entire cruise fee. But the company offers a Travel Protection Plan that costs approximately 10 percent of the cruise fee (a Travel Protection Plan for a $3,000 cruise will run you $299) and protects you from sudden emergencies or medical problems, including pre-existing conditions.
That being said, it's important to remember that many travel companies will respond to natural disasters and other major disruptive events with courteous and thoughtful waiving of re-booking or cancellation policies. But as we've noted here before, we can't guarantee that your cruise line or tour operator will follow suit!
TALK TO US! Tell us about your experiences with travel insurance—including any last-minute cancellations or natural disasters that have rocked your travel plans—and we may quote you in an upcoming Budget Travel story!