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Are you protected from unexpected travel expenses?

(NC) Plenty of Canadians will be holidaying outside the country this March Break, a welcome respite from work, school and the late winter chill. While you're enjoying some fun and sun in a far-off location, remember that back in Canada, winter can still pack a wallop even this late in the season. That means weather can disrupt air travel.

“Unfortunately, sometimes insurance is overlooked by people who are caught up in the excitement of an upcoming trip,” says Erin Finn, the director of underwriting for travel at RSA, a leading insurer in Canada. “Don't leave it until the eleventh hour to think about travel insurance. Take some time in advance of your departure to look into what coverage you already have and whether you need more, so that you and your family are protected.”

What happens, for example, if your flight home is cancelled? It pays to be prepared and have the right travel insurance, so that if your return is delayed beyond your control, you can go back to the beach and relax knowing you're covered, rather than stress over the added costs and risks of an extended stay.

If weather impacts your travel plans, the first step is to contact your travel agent or airline to find out if the flights will be rescheduled without penalties.  Also, call your insurance provider to notify them of a potential claim.

Here are some other things to consider:

• In addition to adequate medical coverage, get a policy with trip interruption and cancellation coverage, so a cancelled flight or unexpected return home in the middle of your holiday doesn't leave you with significant out-of-pocket expenses.

• Be sure your insurance provider offers 24-7 emergency telephone service from anywhere in the world that you might be, and keep that number with you while travelling, so that you know exactly who to call, day or night, should you need to ask for assistance or make a claim.

• If your return date is unexpectedly delayed, ensure that you still have medical coverage in place. Many policies afford automatic extensions of a few extra days in certain circumstances. But check with your insurance provider, as you may need to arrange to extend coverage. After all, the last thing you'd want is to fall ill while stranded and discover your coverage expired after your initial return date.

• Find out how much your insurance policy will reimburse you for the cost of additional accommodations if your return is delayed beyond your control. Many policies contain maximum allowable amounts.

Remember, weather events are not always covered by airlines, or by travel insurance policies, as terms and conditions vary from policy to policy. So, it is always best to check what coverage your policy provides and to consult a trusted insurance provider for guidance.

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