How to Prepare for a Travel Emergency – From Missed Flights to Accidents

What to do when the unexpected happens on your travels and how to plan ahead for it?

Credit: Flickr/aimforawesome

If you get in an accident in your rental car, insist on having police attend the scene

Travel emergencies are, in fact, highly unlikely — but not entirely out of the question. Here’s how to be ready if you encounter trouble while travelling

There are a lot of different situations you can run into on a trip, but a few are more common than the rest.

Let’s take a look at three scenarios and what to do if one of them should happen to you.

You Missed Your Flight

If you miss your flight, get to the airport right away and ask to be put on the next one. If the airline agent isn’t cooperative, explain why you missed the flight and why it wasn’t your fault. Airlines are more likely to ask for additional payment if an agent thinks you missed the flight on purpose in order to change your ticket without paying the fees.

More likely than not, you’ll be on a flight later that day. Worst-case scenario, you might have to pay the difference between your new ticket and the original fare — and quite possibly a ticket-change fee.

You Have an Accident in Your Rental Car

This one is so easy to be prepared for — it’s just a matter of making sure you’re covered before you go. If you get in an accident in your rental vehicle, even if it’s minor, insist on having the police attend the scene and be sure to make copies of the report.

If you declined collision damage waiver insurance, your auto-insurance policy may cover some of the damages. If you declined rental coverage and don’t have auto insurance, the credit card you used to pay for the rental may offer some coverage for the damage to the vehicle. But remember that coverage provided by your credit card or auto insurer often doesn’t apply to vans or luxury vehicles.

The lesson here? Always read the fineprint on your credit card before leaving home, if you’re going to depend on its coverage in an emergency.

You Get Caught in a Natural or Man-made Disaster

And finally, what do you do if you get caught in a natural or man-made disaster? Recent history tells us this is a very real possibility.

Before leaving home, e-mail your itinerary, including flight and hotel info, to a friend so someone at least knows where you’re supposed to be.

If you’re fortunate enough to come away unhurt, hotels and airlines 
are generally very sympathetic to travellers and will waive cancellation and change restrictions, so go directly to the airline or hotel to figure out 
your options.

When all else fails, visit the Canadian embassy or consulate, which can ensure your safety and coordinate evacuations. Just be prepared and know that getting home may take some time.

How to Prepare for a Travel Emergency Before You Leave Home

  • Make a copy of your passport as well as scanning and e-mailing it to yourself. This way, it will always be accessible should it be lost or stolen.

  • Write down the contact information for your health insurer, credit card companies and bank, and take the numbers with you in case you need to make that emergency call.

  • Find out if, and how, your health insurance will work abroad before you leave on your trip. You may find that you need to purchase separate travel health coverage.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.