Does travel insurance cover hurricanes? The answer may surprise you. And if you’re taking a trip to a tropical destination or preparing for a cruise, this is an important consideration. Don’t take it lightly. The last thing you want is for a tropical storm to roll in as you’re getting ready to leave – or worse, on the way to your destination – and you’re left holding the bill.
We won’t hold you in suspense any longer – many travel insurance providers do cover trip cancellations associated with hurricanes or other types of storm-related claims. However, you’ll have to carefully compare policies to find one that fits your needs. In some cases, you will have to upgrade your travel insurance policy to get this type of coverage.
We’ll cover all this and more in today’s quick discussion so you can enjoy peace of mind and protect your investment as you prepare for an upcoming trip. Before we begin, here are some key takeaways when it comes to hurricane coverage:
Ready to learn more about insuring your trip from interruptions, delays, or cancellations associated with hurricanes? Let’s start with some basic information on hurricane coverage.
Does travel insurance cover hurricanes? Many travelers have this question when it comes to travel during hurricane season. And rightfully so. Maybe you’ve heard nightmare stories from friends or family who didn’t have hurricane coverage and lost thousands of dollars – even after taking the time to get trip insurance. Or, maybe you’re just the type of person who always thinks ahead to the worst-case scenario. Either way, we’ve got the scoop for you.
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.
Hurricanes are natural disasters, much like tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, and severe thunderstorms. The primary travel insurance coverage for these types of events includes pre-departure trip cancellation, which means reimbursement to insured travelers (up to the covered amount) for their pre-paid non-refundable trip costs if they have to cancel their trip because a hurricane has destroyed their destination or their primary residence prior to their scheduled departure date.
If you’re traveling to a hurricane zone during storm season, you’ll want to make sure your trip insurance policy covers you for:
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. Trip 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.
Travel insurance plans that include trip cancellation coverage for hurricanes and other 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 that 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.
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. Picture this: 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. You’ll also recover at least a portion of your pre-paid trip expenses.
Travel insurance, just like other insurance plans, cannot provide coverage for known events. This means you cannot purchase travel insurance for a hurricane that has been named and is about to affect your travel plans.
Some plans that offer coverage for natural disasters include a waiting period (usually 15-21 days), which begins at the plan’s effective date of coverage. During the waiting period, the occurrence of a natural disaster is not a covered reason for pre-trip cancellation. This is why it is important to purchase your travel insurance soon after making your travel plans and before there is a hint of a hurricane event.
In addition to trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage, protect yourself during hurricane season by having the following coverage:
Check your policy carefully to ensure that hurricanes, listed under natural disasters, are included as a covered reason. Otherwise, you will not have coverage for hurricane-related travel disasters.
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.
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. You can also purchase travel insurance through a comparison site as well. Read our complete guide on how to compare travel insurance to ensure you make the right pick for your upcoming trip.
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:
Read more about TravelSafe Classic plan here
Many travelers are deterred from traveling to tropical destinations altogether during the high-risk hurricane months. Is there merit to this mindset – is traveling during hurricane season safe? It can be. As a matter of fact, the cost of your trip might be reduced simply because it’s hurricane season. Generally, there are cheaper flights, hotels, and emptier beaches during hurricane season. Plus, just because it’s the season for hurricanes doesn’t mean one will happen. Here are some tips to stay safe while traveling during this time of year:
So, does travel insurance cover hurricanes? While not all plans are created equal, you can easily find a policy that meets your needs for protection from hurricanes. This is not a form of coverage every traveler needs. But, if you’re headed to a high-risk area during a high-risk time of year, it’s a necessity. And now that you know what type of protection you get with hurricane coverage, how to pick a plan, and other important considerations, you can enjoy peace of mind as you plan and head out on your trip.If you were interested in this topic, you may want to learn more about cruise insurance. Cruises are an entirely different beast in terms of travel – so check this resource out. And if you’re looking for a recommendation for your trip insurance plan, take a look at our top rated travel insurance plans of the year – we’ve just updated the guide this month to keep it accurate and relevant.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.