Here at QuoteWright, starting in late spring, we start receiving calls from concerned travelers asking some of the following questions- “do you offer hurricane trip insurance?”, or “What is the best travel insurance for hurricanes?” As we go through this article we will discuss what type of plans to look at and what benefits might apply.
According to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, better known as NOAA, that due to the ending of El Nino, there could be an increased risk of hurricane this year. If you are on the Pacific side of the US, hurricane season usually begins around mid-May. On the Atlantic side, hurricane season begins a little bit later, about the beginning of June. Both end about the same time- the end of November. That means hurricanes can be a threat to your travel plans for up to six and a half months out of the year. If you are concerned with travel insurance coverage for hurricanes, then the policies that you want to look at are the Comprehensive Package Plans.
As we get into the various coverages and how they might apply, keep in mind the following- none of the policies will cover you if you are buying the insurance after the storm has been named. Remember, travel insurance only covers unforeseeable events. The closer you are to your departure date prior to purchasing the insurance, the greater the possibility that a storm may have already been named so you are much better off buying travel insurance or cruise insurance early, usually at the same time you’re making your reservations.
There are a few ways a comprehensive travel insurance policy can cover you for hurricanes. There are three benefits you may find coverage under- trip cancellation/ trip interruption, travel delay and missed connection. We will go through each of these and help you better understand what is covered and what to look for.
You’ll find that travel insurance can provide coverage for hurricanes in the following areas:
With most travel insurance policies, hurricanes are considered Natural Disasters* and usually referred to as such. While the definition varies according to the company and policy, Natural Disaster usually includes earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, and volcanic eruption- some plans may have additional perils listed as well.
*As a side note, whenever a policy has a word capitalized, that usually shouldn't be, then it’s a sign that they will have the word defined under their Definitions section and you should refer to their definition..
In brief, trip cancellation and trip interruption reimburse you for those pre-paid non refundable travel expenses you’ve insured for if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip due to a covered reason stated on the policy. If your biggest concern is having to cancel or interrupt your trip due to a hurricane, this is the part of the policy you’ll want to pay attention to.
There are several different ways a travel insurance policy could provide coverage for a hurricane under trip cancellation and trip interruption. We’ll start with the most common and work from there.
For starters, nearly all of the policies will cover you for trip cancellation and trip interruption due to a hurricane (natural disaster) making your primary residence uninhabitable or accommodations at your destination uninhabitable. There are some plans that only provide coverage if your primary residence is made uninhabitable, so be sure to read your policy before you purchase.
So what do they mean by Uninhabitable? Quite a few policies define it as the building structure itself being unstable with the risk of collapse, exterior or structural damage allowing elemental intrusion (rain, wind, hail, or flood), immediate safety hazards have yet to be cleared (debris on roofs or downed electrical lines), or the rental property being without electricity or water. Other plans might have a looser definition, such as the dwelling not being suitable for human occupancy in accordance with local public safety guidelines. The issue there could be the variance in what those local safety guidelines are. Again, read your policy to make sure what you are being covered for.
Next, there are some policies that will offer coverage if there is a mandatory evacuation at your destination due to a natural disaster. There may be time restrictions with some plans in regards to only losses occurring within 30 days of the evacuation being ordered as being covered in addition to how much of your trip is left, such as 50% or less remaining or 4 days.
While none of the policies cover you for the threat of a hurricane, there are a couple that will offer coverage for trip cancellation due to a hurricane warning at your destination issued by NOAA National Hurricane Center within 48 hours of your departure . With the plans that provide that named peril, there may be a waiting period before coverage goes into effect after you have purchased the travel protection.
There are also some policies that will cover our US military service men and women if they are called into emergency service due to a natural disaster.
If you still have concerns and are looking to get all of your bases covered, I’d recommend looking at those plans that offer the Cancel For Any Reason benefit.
There are two other benefits that may offer coverage for you- travel delay and missed connection. Travel delay mostly deals with getting reimbursed for hotels and meals if your travel is delayed, while missed connection is for “catching you up” to your trip if you miss a connecting flight. You can look at our Weather Coverage Chart to see what plans offer and how they compare.
One of the best places to find out what to expect when you have a can be found at www.TravelInsuranceRatings.org . They have a menu option of what you can expect in the event of a claim. Remember that with all claims you must provide enough documentation to prove your claim. That usually means that you have to document what caused the claim and documentation for your financial loss. The following are links to www.travelinsuranceratings.org: