With this year’s hurricane season underway, insurance companies and websites are offering timely tips and reminders for travel advisors and their clients on travel insurance and hurricanes and tropical storms.
Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, which offers a number of travel insurance products, has shared the following five tips to keep in mind:
- Purchase insurance as soon as you put down your initial trip deposit
- Read your Description of Coverage and understand what your policy covers
- Be flexible with your travel schedule, if possible
- Make sure your home is in order just in case your trip is extended
- Contact your insurer if you’re traveling and a hurricane strikes
Travel insurance comparison website TravelInsurance.com, meanwhile, has shared the following answers to frequently asked questions:
Do I really need to purchase travel insurance just in case there is a hurricane?
Hurricanes, along with other types of storms and unpredictable weather, can and do frequently derail travel plans. If you are traveling from, or headed to, an area that is prone to hurricanes, purchasing travel insurance is a wise move if you want to protect your investment.
Will travel insurance cover me if my flight is delayed or cancelled in the event of a hurricane?
Yes. Trip cancellation coverage provides travelers reimbursement for their insured trip costs if they have to cancel prior to their departure date due to a covered reason. Most trip cancellation plans include coverage for unexpected natural disasters such as hurricanes if the event causes either an extended shutdown in carrier services or renders the destination uninhabitable. Some travel insurance plans will even cover official hurricane warnings by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency that tracks and forecasts tropical storms and hurricanes.
Will travel insurance cover me if my trip is interrupted by a hurricane?
Yes. Trip interruption coverage will reimburse the unused, non-refundable portions of a trip if a traveler has to cancel and abandon a trip after it's already started. The covered reasons in a travel insurance plan for trip interruption are usually the same as the covered reasons for trip cancellation. Some plans will offer a coverage limit for trip interruption that's more than the amount insured under trip cancellation in order to account for any extra expenses incurred to get home early.
What if my destination is damaged during a storm, but it happens before I leave?
If your destination is made uninhabitable by a hurricane or other natural disaster, trip cancellation will provide coverage.
What if I am affected by a storm, but it does not turn into a named hurricane?
Any severe weather that prevents you from traveling to your destination or affects your ability to stay at your destination will likely be covered under the Trip Delay or Trip Cancellation benefits. This includes severe tropical or winter storms. But again, if the tropical or winter storm is named, it is no longer possible to purchase insurance to protect against it.
What if I am concerned about a storm, but the airline or cruise company has not cancelled service – can I get reimbursed if I decide to cancel?
This depends on the type of insurance you purchase and what your plan includes. For example, some plans offer trip cancellation coverage for hurricane warnings at your destination issued by NOAA, if the insurance is purchased before the storm is named. The other option is to purchase a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) upgrade, which allows the insured to cancel their trip for any reason. CFAR is typically only available as an option at the time the policy is purchased and requires the traveler to insure 100 percent of their pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs. And importantly, the traveler must purchase the policy within a set number of days (usually 7-21 days) of their initial trip payment date. With CFAR, either 50 percent or 75 percent of the trip costs will be reimbursed, depending on the plan selected.
When should I purchase travel insurance and how soon is it effective?
While a policy can be purchased up until the day before you depart, it's best to purchase travel insurance soon after making the first payment towards the trip. And most importantly the travel insurance should be purchased before a disruptive event happens. Some benefits and coverages are available only if you've purchased your policy within a short window, which typically ranges from 7-21 days from the date you make your initial payment. Time-sensitive benefits include CFAR and a Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Waiver. Travel insurance plans become effective on the day immediately after you purchase it.
How much does travel insurance cost?
There are several factors that go into the cost of an insurance plan, but typically travel insurance plans cost between 4 percent and 10 percent of the total trip costs. The biggest factors that affect the policy price are the age of travelers and the amount of trip costs.