Many travelers have this question when it comes to travel during hurricane season. First, be aware of what refunds you might get automatically from your travel supplier. For example, if the airport is closed and your flight is canceled due to a hurricane, you’ll work out reimbursement or vouchers for a future trip with the airline. If you arrive safely before the hurricane and decide to leave when the storm begins, however, you could be in a tough spot without travel insurance.
What does travel insurance cover for hurricanes?
If you’re traveling to a hurricane zone during storm season, you’ll want to make sure your travel insurance policy covers you for:
- delayed flights and travel delays in general
- trip interruptions due to severe weather
- trip cancellations due to a hurricane threatening or destroying your destination
Many travelers had a bad experience trying to get to re-opened areas of the Outer Banks after Hurricane Irene in 2011. The problem? A washed out highway and overloaded ferries. Travel insurance would reimburse those who purchased their plans in time for mandatory evacuations, but not for the inability to get on the island. The ferries were running, but there was no way to get a reservation and get onto Hatteras for their vacation and many travelers lost thousands of dollars.
What if a hurricane happens before my trip?
Travel insurance plans that include trip cancellation for hurricanes and natural disasters will refund your pre-paid non refundable trip expenses if you have to cancel before your scheduled departure due to a hurricane.
This coverage requires that the plan be purchased and in effect before the storm is named. See the policy limits for cancellations due to hurricanes.
Important! Read your policy certificate to verify that hurricanes are listed as a covered reason for trip cancellation. Note, you won’t be able to cancel your trip if the hurricane has already passed your destination and the evacuation orders have been lifted unless the lodging where you were to stay is rendered uninhabitable.
If your policy doesn’t include hurricanes as a covered reason, add the optional ‘Cancel for any reason’ coverage to fill that gap, or choose another policy. With ‘Cancel for any reason’ coverage, you can decide to cancel just because you know it will rain the entire trip.
What if a hurricane happens during my trip?
Many travel insurance policies also cover trip interruptions, meaning you are forced to leave your trip early. This could be due to a mandatory evacuation or just plain common sense, but you must verify the reasons are listed in your trip insurance plan.
Trip interruption coverage can be invaluable if you arrive safely, but a hurricane shifts direction and suddenly heads toward your destination.
Trip interruptions related to hurricanes can also occur if your residence back home is rendered uninhabitable by a hurricane. If you’re cruising along in the Greek islands and a hurricane smashes into your home in Florida, you’ll likely want to get back home to assess the damage and protect what you have left. In this case, trip interruption coverage will get you back home and you’ll recover at least a portion of your pre-paid trip expenses.
When should I buy travel insurance?
Travel insurance cannot insure something that has already happened. Therefore, your travel insurance plan must be purchased before the hurricane is named. Some plans require that you purchase your plan within a certain number of days (typically 14-21) of making your initial trip deposit as well. So it’s important to make your travel insurance arrangements quickly after making the first trip payment.
What coverage should I be looking for?
In addition to trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage, protect yourself when traveling during hurricane season by having the following coverage in your travel policy:
- Missed connection for unused pre-paid expenses and additional expenses due to a missed flight or cruise departure
- Travel delay for reimbursement of reasonable expenses if your travel is delayed as a result of a hurricane
- Non medical evacuations to get you out of danger before the hurricane arrives
Check your policy carefully to ensure that hurricanes, which are usually listed under natural disasters, are included as a covered reason for a claim. Otherwise, you will not have coverage for hurricane-related travel disasters.
How much does travel insurance cost?
Just like any insurance plan, the cost depends on a number of factors. The rule of thumb, however, is that a travel insurance package plan (one with trip cancellation and trip interruption for hurricanes) will cost between 4 and 8% of your trip cost.
Read more about the cost of travel insurance.
Where should I buy travel insurance?
At all costs, you should avoid purchasing your travel insurance from a cruise line operator. While this may seem easiest, these plans are not 100% travel insurance. Read about the differences between cruise line protection plans and true travel insurance.
You can purchase travel insurance online from an independent travel insurance company, and you can purchase travel insurance through a comparison site as well. Read how to compare quotes with a travel insurance comparison site.
What is the best plan for hurricane coverage?
Many plans offer coverage for hurricanes and weather related cancellations.
However, not all plans have coverage for when a hurricane warning is issued. Most just cover delays of a certain length, mandatory evacuations, or if your destination is made uninhabitable.
**My recommendation for the best hurricane insurance is TravelSafe Classic**
Why TravelSafe Classic is the best plans for hurricanes:
- Cover common carrier delays of 12 hours or more (many plans have a minimum of 24 or even 48 hours)
- Covers mandatory evacuations
- Covers “Accommodation at destination made uninhabitable”
- Key: Covers travel warning by the NOAA (most plans do not have this)