Imagine you booked a nonrefundable two-week vacation to Costa Rica for $3,000 ($800 flight, $1,700 hotel and $500 in excursions), and three days before departure, you are injured in a car accident. You spend two days in the hospital and your doctor advises you not to travel. If you’ve purchased a policy that includes trip cancellation coverage, you’ll receive a refund for the entire prepaid amount since accidental injuries that result in medically imposed restrictions certified by a doctor qualify as a covered reason.

Trip interruption coverage, however, is a post-departure benefit that covers prepaid, nonrefundable reservations if a portion of a trip is missed or a traveler has to return home due to an extraordinary circumstance. Similar to trip cancellation, to be covered, the reason must be unforeseen.

Using the same vacation example as above, imagine that you fly to Costa Rica and on the fourth day of your trip, you fall while running, hurt your foot and, as a result, can barely walk. A trip to the hospital for X-rays reveals that you have a fracture and the doctor advises you to stay off your feet. As the pain becomes worse, you decide to fly home. If your travel insurance policy includes trip interruption coverage, you will be reimbursed for the unused portion of your hotel stay, your unused return flight and the new return flight. Depending on the plan, trip interruption coverage may range from 100%-200% of the trip cost, which can be extremely helpful as the cost of a last-minute flight home can be quite pricey.