As an already active Atlantic hurricane season ramps up, travel insurance can be a valuable tool for helping consumers protect their financial investment in a summer vacation. Whether you’re considering travel insurance in general or you’re in the throes of selecting a plan, the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) has advice to help you make the best decision for your journey.
“We know vacations will look different this summer as consumers find ways to enjoy their time off while maintaining social distance,” said Megan Cruz, USTiA executive director. “USTiA members strive to offer a wide range of travel protection options—from basic plans that cover specific risks to those with more flexible Cancel for Any Reason benefits—to match the very unique ways we’re traveling.”
According to USTiA, there are three things consumers should understand as they shop for travel insurance to protect their hurricane season journeys:
- Travel protection covers more than just trip cancellation. You could be eligible for benefits like reimbursement of expenses to return home if your trip is interrupted mid-journey or reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses if you’re delayed for a covered reason noted in your plan. Other benefits may include coverage for emergency medical treatment or emergency medical transportation; reimbursement for lost, stolen, or delayed luggage; 24/7 travel assistance; and more. Consumers should read their travel insurance policy or visit their provider's website to learn more about their coverage.
- Names matter. Once a hurricane or tropical storm has a name, it is no longer an unforeseen or unexpected event. So generally, if you purchase travel insurance after a hurricane has been named, any cancellations or interruptions caused by that storm likely won’t be covered. UStiA suggests purchasing travel insurance at the time you book your trip, before any future storms are named. Remember that hurricane season runs through November 30.
- Covered reasons are key. Most traditional travel insurance policies provide a specific list of unexpected events or reasons—known in the industry as “covered reasons”—that can trigger travelers to file a claim. Reasons may include airline or cruise line cancellations due to severe weather, mechanical breakdown, or family illness. Some policies may cover cancellations or interruptions for strikes, terrorist acts, or job loss.
If you’re shopping for travel protection during hurricane season, look for references regarding severe weather or hurricanes in your plan’s terms and conditions, and understand the scope of coverage. If you have any questions about whether or not a hurricane is covered, call the provider’s customer service team or visit its website to confirm.
Plans may also offer other kinds of coverage for hurricane season. For example, some may include hurricane warning coverage, which could be used if a destination is under a hurricane warning, even if it’s never hit by a hurricane. And Cancel for Any Reason plans enable consumers to do just that, and typically reimburse them for a percentage of their trip costs as specifically identified in their plan.
No matter the season, when selecting a plan, travelers should consider the specifics of their trip—including where they are going, how they are traveling, the activities they’ll be taking part in, and their desired level of coverage. Remember that most plans include a preview period that enables consumers to further review their plan and cancel prior to taking the trip to receive a full refund. This cancellation window is typically within 10–15 days after purchase.
“The start of hurricane season adds uncertainty to already-unsettled times,” Cruz said. “Travel insurance can help consumers book travel with the confidence that they are protecting themselves and their financial investment.”
For updates about this year’s hurricane season, visit: