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travel insurance claims

The passage of hurricanes Harvey and Irma left significant devastation in their wakes throughout the Caribbean and Gulf regions, and one industry that was especially hit was travel. When travel is disrupted on a large scale, it also tends to create much larger than usual travel insurance claims for insurers.

Popular tourist destinations from Florida to the Bahamas were struck, often by Category 5 winds. Likewise, the international airports in Houston and Miami, among the largest hubs in the world, were affected by thousands of flight delays and cancellations. The net effect of all this chaos has been a major uptick in filed claims for travel insurers to deal with.


Many major cruise lines operate from ports in Texas and Florida, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival, and Disney. Many of these cruise lines were forced to cancel trips and reroute ships that were already at sea. The fact that many cruise lines are based in the Miami region resulted in many operational shut downs and evacuations as Irma approached Florida. In terms of airlines, United Airlines alone cited 7,400 flight cancellations that were tied to the arrival of Harvey in the Houston area.

The impact on the tourism industry will be massive and on-going for several years. It’s estimated by industry analysts that the Caribbean region alone generates more than $3 billion of revenue from tourism. Many popular destinations, such as the Virgin Islands, were utterly flattened by Category 5 winds from Irma.

Not surprisingly, travel insurance claims following the two hurricanes have numbered in the thousands.

Taking Precautions

Taking a look at any proposed flight itinerary on a major travel deal website will show you how profound continuing threats to the Gulf and Caribbean areas can be for travelers to handle. The growth of the city of Houston in recent years is especially difficult to cope with, as airlines regularly route flights that once went through places like Chicago into Houston. Worse, many travelers, following an unprecedented stretch without a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S., became complacent and avoided buying travel insurance.

What are travelers, whether they are taking business flights or planning relaxing cruises, supposed to do? The record-setting hurricane season is a reminder that trip protection is a relatively cheap product to purchase. As a general rule of thumb, travel insurance should cost between four to ten percent of your trip costs. For example, a $5,000 trip should cost between $200 and $500 to insure.

It’s also wise to be aware of what trip protection will and won’t cover. Buy coverage well in advance of a trip. Insurance carriers, for example, aren’t likely to cover costs for a trip that was booked two days before a hurricane was expected to make landfall and if the hurricane was already named before the purchase of the policy. On the upside, they often cover things besides cancellations, such as unexpected trips to the doctor while on vacation. With a little forethought, it’s easy to see that your investment in a trip won’t go to waste because of an unanticipated event.

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