As I am writing this article, hurricane season has begun and so far so good! Even though August and September are usually the most affected months, hurricane season is officially from June 1 through November 30, which seems like a long time. But ask anyone in the travel business or anyone who had fall or winter travel plans—and that included Christmas vacations to the Caribbean or Florida last year and the season seemed to be never ending.
As we have learned, travel plans can change due to no fault of your own. All or most communications were cut to the islands and in turn, to the resorts. Last year, back to back, Category 4 hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United States had many people wondering what travel insurance covers when a hurricane hits.
I can’t tell you how many phone calls other area travel professionals and I made to travelers who booked their own travel and either did not take out travel insurance or had a policy that was not going to cover their investment as they tried to salvage their vacations.
First, the most important fact of buying travel insurance is to be certain you know what the policy contains. Just to reserve a cruise through the cruise line or resort stay through an online tour company and have them add in their insurance is not necessarily the best thing to do. You need to read the fine print.
And even though the insurance was offered by the cruise line or resort, insurance details are not a subject that these people are most familiar with. When you need to cancel your trip or alter your travel plans, it is your responsibility to make sure you have purchased a policy that will be covering YOUR needs. Will you be able to get your money back or do you get your refund in vacation credits? What about your investment in your air arrangements, if you made them separately? If you need to move to another destination, who is going to pay the additional air cost that may be involved to get there? And, just because you can get a “less expensive” rate somewhere else, it doesn’t help if your needs are not covered and you do not get a refund.
Travel insurance is designed to offer protection against sudden and unforeseen situations and events, covering the non-refundable penalties you incur when you cancel a non-refundable prepaid vacation for an acceptable reason. It is always smart to purchase travel insurance immediately after your initial trip payment so you know your costs will be covered.
Most insurance policies that will cover hurricane or weather-related items have the best protection the earlier you buy them. When you click on the Weather Channel and see ominous clouds swirling over the Atlantic, heading toward your vacation destination, it is most likely too late to be worrying about insurance coverage. Insurance must be purchased usually no later than at least 24 hours before the storm is named or it will not cover.
If you live or are traveling anywhere that could possibly be in the likely path of a hurricane or a tropical storm, travel insurance that provides hurricane coverage is a must. Contact your local travel professional for advice and knowledge to make sure your financial investment will be properly protected. We are here to help you before you get into a bad situation!