Travel Protection Guide
for Hurricane Season 2017
June 1st serves as the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, adding a measure of unpredictability to summer travel. Experienced travelers already know the value of protecting their vacation against the unexpected, but the start of the Hurricane Season is a good time to review how to best prepare for an upcoming trip with travel protection.
The first consideration for travelers protecting a trip during hurricane season is to purchase the plan soon after booking the trip. This is critical because a plan must be effective before a storm system is named in order for that named storm to be considered for coverage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for this identification process. A tropical depression (winds up to 39mph) is identified by a number, and it is only named if it grows to tropical storm (39mph to 73mph) or hurricane (exceeding 73mph) strength.
Hurricane Coverage Benefits
A travel protection plan that is in effect when a storm is named offers multiple categories of coverage benefits. When comparing plans, consider these categories of coverage:
- Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption: Cancellation is before the trip begins and interruption is once you’ve already departed. These can reimburse the unused expenses of the trip that were pre-paid and not refunded. Trip Interruption can also reimburse additional transportation costs to return home earlier than planned. Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption have a list of covered reasons; one of these would have to happen in order for coverage to apply. The covered reasons involving hurricanes are addressed in the common scenarios below.
- Missed Connection: If your common carrier is delayed for 3 hours, this benefit can reimburse additional transportation expenses to catch up to the trip, meal and accommodation expenses during the delay, and the unused non-refundable trip payments that were pre-paid. A common carrier can include flights, trains, buses and cruise ships.
- Trip Delay: If your common carrier is delayed for 6 hours, this benefit can reimburse for meals and lodging during the delay.
- Cancel For Any Reason: This is the catch-all category that allows you to cancel the trip without explaining why and still be reimbursed 75% of the trip cost. There are some requirements for this coverage benefit. To qualify, the policy must be purchased within 15 days of the initial trip deposit date and 100% of the trip cost must be insured. To use the coverage, the trip must be canceled at least 2 days before the trip begins.
Though it seems some of these coverage benefits overlap, in any situation you would claim whichever categories best fit your situation. Consider these commonly asked about scenarios for hurricane season:
- Flight delay: Depending on the duration of the delay, multiple coverages could apply. Missed Connection requires a 3 hour delay, Trip Delay requires a 6 hour delay, and Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption require a 12 hour delay. Depending on the scenario, one could claim a meal expense after the 3rd hour under Missed Connection, another meal with hotel after the 6th hour using Trip Delay, and ultimately cut the trip short after the 12th hour of the delay under Trip Interruption.
- Hurricane warning: A hurricane warning for the destination from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) can be a covered reason for Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption. For this coverage to apply, the policy would need to be purchased at least 14 days prior to the warning, and the warning must be issued within 24 hours of the trip departure date.
- Mandatory evacuation: Local authorities at the destination issuing a mandatory evacuation can be a covered reason for Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption, depending on how much of the trip remains at the end of the evacuation. When the evacuation order is lifted, if there is less than half of the trip remaining, or 4 days or less remaining, whichever works in your favor, then coverage can apply. If there is more than half and more than 4 days remaining on the trip, the evacuation is not covered by the standard Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption benefit.
- Road closings: For those driving to the destination, a severe storm causing a route closing can result in unplanned expenses. Trip Delay can reimburse for a hotel and food if there is a road closing verified by the National Weather Service and Department of Transportation.
- Damage at the destination: Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Coverage can reimburse you if the accommodations where you are booked to stay are rendered uninhabitable. It is important to note that this is specific to the lodging and doesn’t necessarily include damage to the general area. In order to cancel because some businesses aren’t open, beach erosion, or general loss of enjoyment, please make sure to select a policy with Cancel For Any Reason coverage.
- Don’t want to risk it: Most travel insurance coverage requires that storm impact your trip for benefits to apply. However, many travelers who see a storm’s projected path will want to cancel regardless if flights are delayed or if the storm makes landfall. The only way to cover cancelling the trip because of fear or choice is a policy with Cancel For Any Reason This lets travelers decide that they don’t want to risk it and still recoup some of their trip expenses
Having reviewed the planning best practices and coverage benefits, there are several useful tips from the experts at TripAssure to help if a storm threatens your vacation.
- Keep documentation: Gathering documentation is the most important tip for any travel insurance claim. For example, the airline can provide confirmation at the airport for a delay or cancellation. It is often easiest to collect information as the situation is happening.
- Ask us questions: If you are not clear on how travel protection helps in your situation, please contact us. Emergency Assistance Services are available 24/7, and can be called collect from outside of the U.S.
- Don’t assume: A common pitfall for travelers is when something is assumed to be covered by travel protection, without confirming how their plan works. Always refer to the plan documents for specific information, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.
This information is meant to be a summary of how travel protection coverage benefits can help during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. For specific details, always refer to the plan documents. Please contact us with any questions, agents are eager to help.