The devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey displaced thousands of people from their homes, caused loss of life, and wreaked economic havoc. Of course, compared to this, having your travel plans be cancelled or interrupted might seem insignificant – but an event like this can still cost you a lot of money if you don’t have the right protection.
Houston, Texas is the fourth-largest city in the United States. George Bush Intercontinental Airport is a major hub for United Airlines. With flight cancellations in and out of Houston area airports due to the winds, the rain, and the floods, this had a ripple effect on flights all over the country as planes and crew grounded in Houston created a lack of resources that effected flights for days. Roads were flooded, impacting travelers’ and flight crew abilities to even reach airports – although airport runways were flooded as well.
In the end, an estimated total of more than 9,000 flights were cancelled as a result of Hurricane Harvey. And this does not include flights that were still significantly delayed. Once the storm was over, it took quite a while for all airlines, but especially United and Southwest (who operates out of Houston Hobby Airport), to get back up and running. At first, airlines resumed their operations after the storm, but not at full speed.
As an individual traveler, maybe this meant you had to stay put either in Houston or elsewhere for longer than intended or you had to cancel your trip altogether. For delayed flights, airlines likely allowed you to change your flight plans for free – but it’s unlikely they sprung for your lodging costs while you waited to complete your trip.
Or maybe you weren’t planning to travel anywhere near Houston, but your United flight elsewhere was delayed or cancelled because planes and crew were not available. If your flight was delayed, it’s likely United had nothing else available for you, but you had to get home. So you purchased a new ticket with Delta, who had options available. However, they were much more expensive than your original tickets.
In any of these cases, travel insurance is the best way to protect yourself from these unavoidable extra expenses. In particular, a plan offering good trip interruption coverage can be a saving grace. This facet of your trip protection plan will help cover the substantial costs involved of interrupting your trip to return home (for a covered reason) as well as your remaining unused trip costs. Trip cancellation coverage can reimburse your pre-paid and non-refundable trip costs if you have to cancel pre-departure (for a covered reason such as inclement weather or a hurricane named after you purchased your policy).
A natural disaster can impose a financial burden on travelers. So next time an unexpected event arises ruining your plans, it would be a good idea to make sure you are covered.