The weather's bad. The economy is worse. And as cruise lines and resorts slash prices in the hopes of enticing penny-pinching travelers, a lot of people might feel tempted to escape from it all.
But as people try to take advantage of deeply discounted rates, more and more of them are asking the question: Can I pay for this trip if I get laid off?
"The question does come up," says Jim Grace, CEO of InsureMyTrip.com, an online travel insurance agency. "And people are really concerned."
Grace says he's noticed an increased interest in travel insurance policies that include protection against "involuntary termination of employment" — meaning if you get laid off and have to cancel a trip, you're eligible for reimbursement.
"It's not necessarily new," he says. "But there's very, very important coverage there for people in economic uncertain times."
Although terms vary by plan, the gist is simple: If you buy the insurance before you know you're going to get laid off, and then it happens, you're covered. Grace says that, on average, coverage costs about 4 percent to 8 percent of the trip's full price tag.
Martha Meade, a 22-year travel industry veteran who manages public and government affairs for AAA, says layoff protection is catching on with companies, as well.
"Even vendors that don't generally offer that type of insurance are adding things like a job layoff as an acceptable reason to cancel and get your money back," Meade says.
Walt Disney World in Florida is one such vendor. It added a layoff clause to some of its insurance policies at the end of 2008.
But, of course, travelers should be sure to read the fine print. On most of the plans, you need to have worked for your employer for at least a year — and sometimes as much as five years — in order to collect.
Employees who don't meet these qualifications might want to consider a "cancel for any reason" policy. Although they are generally more expensive and often reimburse only a percentage of the trip price, many of these plans would cover people with less than a year's tenure.