One of the many things covered by most forms of travel insurance is trip cancellation. If you've never had to cancel a trip, however, this form of insurance might seem odd. After all, who would cancel a trip they've presumably spent months planning? Although a lot of time and planning certainly does go into all forms of travel, trip cancellation insurance is a useful bit of coverage to have on hand. Here are a few scenarios in which you might want to call off your vacation:

Unfit to travel

You're all ready to head out on your big hiking trip, but the week before you head out you start to feel unwell. You're totally exhausted and you're running a fever, but you figure you've just got a cold coming on. You brush it off, but it just seems to be getting worse and worse. You decide to go to the doctor and you find out: You have the flu. Since you're highly contagious, you're not allowed to be in any tight, public spaces. You can call the airline to cancel your flight.

Medical emergency at  home

Just as you're about to turn off your phone for the flight, it starts ringing. You think about ignoring it, but a feeling in your gut causes you to answer. Your brother-in-law tells you that your sister has gone into labour early: The baby is on it's way! You rush out of the airport and to the hospital, where you get the chance to see your tiny, newborn nephew. 

Legal obligations

An envelope arrives in the mail letting you know you're being summoned for jury duty. You look at the envelope and it tells you you're expected to arrive in court on - you guessed it - the week of your upcoming holiday. You call the courthouse to see if it's possible to change your time, but they don't consider your cruise a valid excuse to miss it. Alternatively, you get a summons asking you to appear in court to stand as a witness. Again, the prosecutor is unwilling to set the dates of the court trial around your vacation schedule. Now, you're faced with the choice to cancel your vacation or figure out how to avoid jail time... you should probably call off the trip.

Unforeseen natural disasters

The day before you're about to head out on vacation, a tornado strikes in your town. No one was hurt, but your house was seriously damaged: You need to stay behind to begin figuring out your next steps. You let the hotel know that you won't be arriving.

Other Circumstances

Earlier this year Wotif, an Australian travel Website, published a list of the most weird and interesting reasons their clients have ever given for changing their travel plans. Here are some highlights:

  • One customer canceled a booking for a trip four months in the future because he or she "had a cold."
  • Another did not recognize the need for a passport until he or she arrived at the airport.
  • "I ate some bad calamari."
  • "My cat has had a hip replacement"

These go to show that sometimes, life disrupts your plans. While trip cancellation insurance won't cover every excuse in the book, it will be there for the most common reasons you might need to say home.