Gustav cut the Gulf Coast a break. Hanna has churned up the East Coast. Ike is headed to the Gulf and more are undoubtedly packing their bags for her trek across the Atlantic. Hurricane season happens every year from June 1 to November 30th. Every year, the forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) frantically try to predict how “bad” the season will be or how many hurricanes may impact the U.S. There is another group of people that really don’t worry too much about that. For them, hurricanes will come and go, and their job is to make sure your clients are protected.
Clients need not sequester themselves during hurricane season, but together with the valued advice from a professional travel planner, they should most definitely protect their investment of travel dollars. Recently, Travel Research Online (TRO) had a few moments to speak with Richard T. Soldan, CTC VP Sales & Marketing of TravelSafe to discuss the ins and outs of third party travel insurance—especially how it ties in with the “H” word. While a travel professional should never be an “insurance agent” (Richard recommends calling the insurer for clarification on any and all policy issues), there are several things to keep in mind regarding hurricane claims:
- Coverage will vary by insurer. Make sure you check and verify when and under what conditions a claim will be paid. For example, with TravelSafe, a hurricane warning must be issued—not a watch. Once it is a warning, you can cancel for full coverage no earlier than 24 hours prior to the start of the trip if your trip destination is under a hurricane warnind issued by the NOAA Hurricane Center.
- For all insurers, once a storm has been named, coverage is normally not available.
- If a hurricane impacts your destination, you may be covered, but it can be a gray area. If your destination is considered uninhabitable, you are covered, but if your travel supplier offers a habitable alternative, you likely are not.
- As a travel professional, you sold the policy, it is your job to service it. A good travel agent will assist the client in filing any claims. Often the client is unaware of industry terms and your assistance is invaluable. However, if it is a medical claim, you likely will be out of the picture due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the concern for privacy.
A lot of this is common sense, but also bears repeating. If your client is traveling in a period or location where a hurricane is likely to affect their trip, travel insurance is a small price to pay for the protection it offers. While there are many companies that offer travel insurance, as an agent do your own homework and check them out and find the best one for your agency. You want to look at responsiveness, turn around time, percentage of claims paid (TravelSafe provides timely and professional claims services that are available 24/7 365 days a year), and financial stability of the company.
For more information on TravelSafe and the various products, you can contact them at 888-885-7233 or online at www.travelsafe.com