Ben Birstonas, a 58-year-old IT consultant, had been looking forward to a $14,000 all-inclusive trip to Bermuda with his family.
However, as the departure date neared, news of Hurricane Franklin, which had already caused severe flooding in the Dominican Republic, set off alarm bells.
Just days before their trip, the U.S. National Hurricane Center dubbed Franklin the first major hurricane of the 2023 hurricane season while simultaneously issuing a Category 4 tropical storm watch for Bermuda.
According to an Alberta Prime Times article, Birstonas found himself in a predicament despite the looming threat.
His insurance policy required cancellations to be made three days before the trip to claim coverage.
His situation underscores the importance of thoroughly understanding one’s travel insurance, especially during hurricane season and given the rise in extreme weather events.
The Ins and Outs of Travel Insurance
The article noted that two essential components of travel insurance are trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage.
Marty Firestone, president of Toronto-based insurance broker Travel Secure, explains, “Cancellation is virtually everything up to stepping on the plane, and interruption is (when) you’re already at your destination and your trip gets interrupted — you can’t make it to the next port, you can’t get to the next city, you can’t leave the country,”
Such disruptions could be due to long flight delays, evacuation orders, or hurricane warnings.
Travel insurance can cover accommodations, food, rentals, and non-refundable deposits in case of trip interruption.
Firestone mentions in the report the broad scope of coverage.
“Fire, heat, floods and also volcanic ash — all of these things can put something in your plans that you either have to stay longer at your destination, or you can’t get to your destination,” Firestone said, per the article. Such comprehensive travel insurance can cost eight to 10% of the trip’s value.
In the article, Steven Harris of LowestRates.ca points out that the duration of the trip also impacts insurance costs.
“The longer you’re there, the larger your risk exposure,” noted Steven Harris, a licensed insurance broker, per the report. “That adds to the cost.”
Tips for Travelers
- Purchase Early: Coverage can’t be acquired once a hurricane is identified.
- Check Details: Ensure the insurance covers specific weather-related events.
- Know the Limitations: The coverage offered by credit cards is typically limited. Separate insurance products can offer more extensive coverage.
- Medical Considerations: Activities like parasailing or scuba diving may not be covered, and traveling during pregnancy might be excluded.
Hurricane and Travel Insurance: Key Takeaways
According to a Travel Guard blog post, here is what you need to know about Hurricanes and Travel Insurance Coverage:
- For coverage during hurricanes, insurance should be purchased before the hurricane is officially named.
- Damages to resorts leading to trip cancellations might be reimbursable.
- Predicted storms that directly affect accommodations may lead to coverage under Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption benefits.
- Travel Guard offers specialized plans that provide 24/7 assistance for last-minute plan changes and other challenges.