For the first time in more than 100 years, we have seen the devastation caused by back-to-back Category 4 (or higher) hurricanes. Thoughts and prayers are still with everyone impacted and huge thanks to everyone that has come together to support those devastated by the hurricanes impact.
I’ve received a lot of questions regarding traveling during hurricane season, especially about travel insurance and whether or not it is worth it.
You might be wondering just what is covered if a hurricane wrecks your plans for a beach getaway or that family vacation you’ve been looking forward to taking since last year before hurricanes were even in the picture.
Allianz Global, a leading specialty insurance provider, details just what your insurance does and doesn’t cover if you’re facing extreme weather or a hurricane on your next trip.
What if Your Flight is About to be Canceled?
If your trip is canceled or cut short, a policy provided by Allianz Global Assistance will likely include reimbursement for your travel costs as well as any costs incurred if you have to fly home early. If you can’t get home, your insurance will probably also reimburse any costs associated with extra nights at your hotel, meals and other essentials. And, of course, if you’re injured, travel insurance will help you find medical services—including medical transportation—for any injuries that might occur, while also defraying those costs.
What else should you know about travel insurance?
If you decide against purchasing travel insurance, and then want to purchase it when you hear about a storm brewing, it most likely won’t cover you for the reasons you’re looking for:
“Travel insurance is designed to offer protection against sudden and unforeseen situations and events,” says Allianz Global. “When a hurricane (or any storm) becomes a named storm, it also becomes a ‘foreseeable event’ with known potential to affect your travel. If you buy travel insurance after a storm is named, your plan won’t provide coverage for storm-related claims.”
When it comes to flight delays, sitting in an airport for hours—or even days—could make even the most patient traveler decide to give up and head home. “Don’t do it,” says Allianz Global. You need to have lost at least half of your scheduled trip due to a travel delay and you must have shown a good-faith attempt to try to get to your destination before insurance will even consider covering you.
If the airline does ultimately cancel your flight due to a hurricane—and you’ve purchased the proper insurance in time it is important to keep a copy of your original itinerary and obtain a statement or updated itinerary from your airline verifying that the original flight was canceled.
What about cruises changing the itinerary?
As for cruise passengers, travel insurance will likely not cover your costs if you decide to change your trip before your cruise line cancels the itinerary.
The “weather event must force your airline, cruise line or tour operator to stop offering all services for at least 24 hours,” said Allianz Global. “Once that happens, your travel insurance would reimburse you for non-refundable travel costs.”
It also good to note that if your cruise line changes your itinerary at the last-minute due to inclement weather, you must accept the change. As long as the new itinerary has the same “value” as your original itinerary, your insurance company doesn’t consider that you’ve suffered “a financial loss.”
On the other hand, your insurance should protect you if you need to change hotels because weather damage made the property uninhabitable. But note that your definition of inhabitable might not necessarily be classified as uninhabitable by the insurance company. If your golf vacation is on the rocks thanks to weather damage to the golf course, for example, but the hotel can still accommodate you, it is unlikely you’ll be reimbursed for any changes.
What if my hotel isn’t inhabitable?
If your hotel does prove to be uninhabitable or if it is evacuated, keep any documentation or proof such as a local news story announcing the evacuation or a statement from the hotel so this can be included in the insurance claim.
It’s important to note that if local authorities order a “preemptive evacuation,” that will probably also not be covered by your policy.
So what does this all mean?
The most important thing to know when purchasing travel insurance is to read your inclusions and exclusions very carefully before setting off on your trip. Travel insurance is no different than car, home or renters insurance.
Know what type of coverage you’re seeking to ensure that what you purchase will have you covered.
While insurance isn’t the most fun topic of discussion, it’s something I believe is worth talking about prior to your trip.
It could be the difference between a hassle free trip and not having to stress about figuring out these details while in the moment!