A deadly snow storm has claimed the lives of several people across the U.S. Vehicles have been swept away due to heavy snow and ice and the severe weather conditions have also caused major travel disruptions to travellers making their way home after the Thanksgiving weekend.
The bodies of a boy and girl, both aged five, were found after their vehicle had been swept away. Flooded roads in Missouri claimed the lives of two boys aged five and eight and a six-year-old girl has been reported missing.
The authorities are warning travellers to exercise caution and forecasters have predicted that a new storm will bring several more feet of mountain snow, rain and gusty winds over the coming weekend.
UK travellers who are currently in the U.S., whose flights have been affected by the storm, should speak directly to their airline regarding their return journey to the UK. It is the airlines responsibility to re-book passengers onto an alternative flight in the event of cancellations. Overnight accommodation and refreshments may also be available, but this is usually at the airline’s discretion.
The UK is also expecting severe cold weather in the month of December. Scotland and Northern England are due to face up to 30 days of snow and ice whilst the South is bracing itself for around 15 to 20 days. The Met Office has also issued flood warnings – excess water on roads has the potential to turn to ice making it extremely dangerous. North East England, North West England, Yorkshire and Humber are amongst those at high risk – after being issued a yellow alert for severe cold weather.
If you are due to travel over during December, make sure to contact your airline or tour operator in advance for any changes to your transport services – this way you can make alternative arrangements ahead of time, should you need to.
Missed flights due to adverse weather and traffic delays are unlikely to be covered by travel insurance, so bear this in mind if you are travelling to the airport. There are a few policies that will cover if the event was unavoidable (for example, an accident occurring once you had left home), but as a snow warning has already been given it is your responsibility to ensure you leave enough time to reach the airport.
If the airline cancels your flight, it is their responsibility to book you onto the next available flight, either with themselves or an alternative airline. Due to adverse weather being an extraordinary circumstance (something which is out of the airlines control), compensation will not be available.
Your travel insurance, however, may offer compensation under the Departure Delay section. Cover levels and eligibility will differ between policies so be sure to check the policy wording carefully.
If you experience a significant delay you may be covered for Travel abandonment provided you have not been offered an alternative within the 6-hour or 12-hour time frame.