Editor’s Note: As travel agents, we are all currently dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. As we enter into the most active period of the 2011 season, we asked our friends at Travel Insured to review the points surrounding insurance coverage. These policies apply only to Travel Insured.
As Hurricane Irene churned through the Caribbean region as a category three hurricane with sustained winds exceeding 110 miles per hour, the U.S. National Weather Service Hurricane Center projected that the storm would make landfall this week along the U.S. eastern seaboard. Irene could potentially touch several states as a major category three or stronger storm. Travelers and travel agents planning trips during hurricane season frequently ask questions about what coverage is included in insurance plans from Travel Insured International® to protect trips when a hurricane disrupts their travel plans.
Topics include the best time to buy travel insurance for hurricane-related coverage, the covered reasons for coverage against cancellations, delays and itinerary disruptions, and when Cancel for Any Reason is a valuable travel insurance option.
When do I need to buy travel insurance for my trip to be protected against a hurricane?
A Travel Insured plan must be purchased not later than the day before a tropical storm or hurricane is identified and named by the U.S. National Weather Service in order for the insured trip to be protected against that storm and the effects of its resulting weather pattern. Once named, the storm is no longer “unforeseen” as required for coverage. In the case of Hurricane Irene, the storm was named by the weather service on Aug. 20, 2011 and coverage related to the storm’s disruptions can be provided on Travel Insured policies purchased on or before Aug. 19, 2011.
What are the covered reasons for Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption that can be caused by a hurricane?
All of Travel Insured’s plans under the Worldwide Trip Protector brand umbrella can provide Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption coverage when:
• Weather causes complete cessation of common carrier services for at least 24 consecutive hours.
• The traveler’s primary residence is made uninhabitable by hurricane, flood or other natural disaster.
• The destination accommodations are made uninhabitable by hurricane, flood or other natural disaster.
Additionally, Travel Insured’s Worldwide Trip Protector plan and Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plan can provide Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption coverage when:
• Mandatory evacuation is ordered by local authorities in the destination due to a natural disaster or hurricane. There must be 50% of less of the total trip length remaining after the evacuation ends for Trip Cancellation coverage to apply.
• When the insured’s arrival at the destination is delayed and causes the loss of 50% or more of the scheduled trip duration due to reasons covered by the Trip Delay benefit. See directly below for covered Trip Delay reasons related to a hurricane.
What are the covered reasons for Trip Delay that can be caused by a hurricane?
All Travel Insured’s plans under the Worldwide Trip Protector brand umbrella can provide Trip Delay coverage when:
• A weather-caused delay of the insured’s common carrier occurs for either six (6) or more hours, or for 12 or more hours depending upon the specific plan selected.
• A delay is caused by a documented traffic accident when the insured or his or her travel companion was en route to a departure, whether they are directly or not directly involved.
Is any coverage provided when the cruise line or tour operator changes my travel itinerary due to a hurricane?
Yes. Travel Insured’s Worldwide Trip Protector and Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plans include a coverage called Change of Itinerary / Missed Port of Call. It can provide coverage when the insured passenger who prepays for a non-refundable shore activity in a cruise port of call, or a scheduled non-refundable stop on a tour, misses the prepaid activity due to a change of itinerary. The passenger can be reimbursed up to $300 with the Worldwide Trip Protector plan, or up to $750 with the Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plan, unless the missed activity is rescheduled during the course of the trip.
Is any coverage provided when a common carrier travel delay due to a hurricane causes me to miss my scheduled cruise or tour departure?
Yes. Missed Connection coverage is included in several plans. The Worldwide Trip Protector and Worldwide Trip Protector Gold plans can provide coverage when as a result of a common carrier delay of three (3) or more hours due to weather the insured traveler misses his or her cruise or tour departure. The same coverage in the Trip Protector Lite Expanded plan can apply for a common carrier delay of six (6) or more hours due to weather causes the missed departure. Each plan, up to the maximum limits specified, reimburses costs to rejoin the trip as well as meal and accommodation expenses, and non-refundable payments for the unused portion of the tour or cruise.
When is the Cancel for Any Reason upgrade a good option to buy for hurricane-related coverage?
Cancel for Any Reason coverage is a good option for travelers to buy who want the ability to cancel their vacation when a hurricane is threatening, but not yet arrived, at their travel destination. It is also valuable for those who want the ability to cancel their travel in adverse weather conditions even when their common carrier is able to transport them to their destinations. These reasons, not covered within the standard Travel Insured policies, are covered with the Cancel for Any Reason option.
John Stone is the Media Relations Manager at Travel Insured International, and a former News Editor at Leisure Travel News and Travel Trade Magazine. He authors a company blog on topics of interest to travel insurance customers at http://www.travelinsured.com/Blog/