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Travel Insurance: Get Ahead of Hurricane SeasonMay 12, 2010 By: George Dooley
The names Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl and Fiona sound innocent enough. However, Travel Insured advises travelers planning trips this summer to plan ahead of emerging storms that will be given these and 15 other names as they reach tropical storm strength. What’s in a name could be a disaster for uninsured travelers.
Travel Insured says hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University have predicted 15 named storms during the season, including eight hurricanes of which four will be major events of Category 3 (111 miles per hour winds) or greater. The U.S. Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center will give its annual hurricane season forecast on May 22.
Although 2009 was a quiet hurricane season compared to yearly averages, there is no expectation that 2010 will be the same, Travel Insured notes. Last year, the U.S. National Weather Service predicted seven to 11 named storms with three to six hurricanes. The actual result was nine storms with only three hurricanes. An average season brings 11 named storms with six hurricanes.
The most active recent seasons have included 2008, with 16 named storms including eight hurricanes with five majors, and the record year of 2005 with 28 named storms of which 15 were hurricanes, including the infamous Katrina and Wilma. Travel Insured urges agents to remind clients to buy travel insurance before the day a storm is named. An insurance plan bought after a storm is identified does not protect against that storm.
The U.S. National Weather Service’s Hurricane Center names hurricanes in advance of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season that runs from June 1 through November 30. The Hurricane Center attaches a name to a tropical storm when it reaches maximum sustained winds of 39 miles per hour, and the storm graduates to hurricane status if and when its sustained winds reach 74 miles per hour.
Starting on the date a tropical storm is identified and named, it becomes a publically-known event and no longer meets the “unforeseen” definition required for coverage. Travel Insured, like all insurers, does not provide coverage for adverse weather claims due to a named tropical storm or its resulting weather patterns for insurance plans bought on or after the date when the storm is named.
New this hurricane season is Trip Cancellation coverage in Travel Insured’s Worldwide Trip Protector and Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plan when the insured is forced to lose 50 percent or more of his or her scheduled trip duration due to a covered Trip Delay reason. Defined reasons covered for Trip Delay include delay of a common carrier for six or more hours, including for inclement weather, or a delay due to a traffic accident enroute to a departure, or a delay due to lost passports or documents, a hijacking, quarantine, or unannounced strike, or a natural disaster.
As disruptive storms strike, all plans in Travel Insured’s Worldwide Trip Protector line of products can provide Trip Cancellation when weather causes complete cessation of the insured’s common carrier for 24 or more hours. Trip Cancellation can also apply when a natural disaster renders the destination accommodations uninhabitable, or when the insured’s primary residence is made uninhabitable by flood or other natural disaster within 10 days of a scheduled departure.
Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption coverage in the Worldwide Trip Protector and Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plans can apply when local authorities order a mandatory evacuation at the destination due to a hurricane and 50 percent or less of the insured’s trip remains when the evacuation is over.
Cancel for Any Reason is the right option for travelers who want to cancel the trip when a storm is threatening but has not yet reached their destination, Travel Insured believes. The option allows the insured to cancel up to 48 hours prior to his or her scheduled departure for any reason to receive up to 75 percent reimbursement of the non-refundable prepaid vacation costs.
Trip Delay benefits can apply when weather causes a minimum delay of either six or 12 hours depending upon the terms of the Worldwide Trip Protector plan purchased. Most plans provide Missed Connection coverage that can protect if, as a result of a weather-related disruption of the common carrier for three or more hours, the insured misses his or her cruise or tour departure.
And most plans also provide Missed Port of Call coverage that applies when the cruise or tour supplier makes a change in the scheduled trip itinerary due to weather causing the insured to miss a prepaid, non-refundable activity that cannot be rescheduled during the course of the trip.