There are some kinds of interruptions to your trip that you have some control over, but there are others that are completely out of your hands — including natural disasters like hurricanes. Some travelers simply choose not to travel to during hurricane season at all, but this isn’t always an option. If work or school limits the window of time you have to schedule a vacation, then you might take your chances and book a trip in the middle of hurricane season.
Not all travel insurance includes coverage for hurricanes, so if hurricanes are a possibility during your trip, it’s important to choose a policy that covers natural disasters.
Why You Might Need Hurricane Travel Insurance
Some of the most popular travel destinations on the East Coast are at risk of hurricanes during the summer, including Florida, North and South Carolina, and the Caribbean. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th, with a peak in August and September.
Hurricanes are less of a concern in the Pacific; Hawaii has only been hit directly by hurricanes twice since the 1950s. Still, recent storms like Hector in 2018 and Barbara in 2019 came close enough to cause heavy surf and power failures, enough to impact your vacation.
Hurricane season in the Pacific lasts from May 25th through November 30th, so it’s longer and more spread out than the Atlantic hurricane season.
While the statistical likelihood of a hurricane affecting your trip may be low, purchasing travel insurance with hurricane coverage makes it easier for you to get a refund in the event that a hurricane or tropical storm comes bearing down on your destination.
What Types of Policies Cover Hurricanes?
Hurricane travel insurance doesn’t come as a standalone policy. You’ll find it under the Weather and Natural Disaster section of your trip cancellation insurance. It may also be listed under your trip interruption coverage, travel delay coverage, and other parts of your insurance policy.
The important thing is to make sure that hurricanes and natural disasters are specifically listed in your coverage. If your trip is cancelled because of a hurricane, but your policy doesn’t cover natural disasters, then your hurricane travel insurance won’t kick in.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your travel insurance only comes into effect if the hurricane actually impacts your trip. You won’t be able to make a claim simply because there’s a storm on the way and you decide to stay home instead of getting on the plane.
Your hurricane coverage is activated in specific circumstances, such as if your flight is canceled, your airport is closed, or your accommodations are rendered uninhabitable.
If you want more flexible coverage — including the option to cancel your trip at the first sign of a hurricane — then you’ll need to get Cancel For Any Reason coverage. This allows you to cancel your trip for less severe impacts, such as concern that the beaches won’t be as sunny and you won’t enjoy your trip as much, even if your hotel and flights are operating as planned.
However, CFAR coverage may only reimburse you for 50-75% of your costs, whereas hurricane coverage under your trip cancellation policy will reimburse you for 100% of covered costs.
What Does Hurricane Travel Insurance Cover?
Although hurricane travel insurance only comes into effect in specific cases, the situations that it does cover are fairly extensive in the event of a serious natural disaster at your destination or at your primary residence. Here are a few situations in which you may be covered:
A hurricane hits your destination before your trip.
Sometimes, the impact of a hurricane is so severe that you have no choice but to call off the trip altogether. If hurricanes are listed as a covered reason under your trip cancellation policy, then you can be covered for 100% of nonrefundable costs in the event that:
- Your destination is under a hurricane warning or mandatory evacuation order
- Your accommodation is declared uninhabitable, even if the danger has passed
- Your cruise or flight has been canceled or significantly delayed
- Your local or destination airport has been closed
In some cases, your hotel or airline may have their own natural disaster policies, in which case they may provide you with a refund for a portion of your trip. If they don’t, your travel insurance policy will reimburse you for 100% of these non-refundable costs, including any flights, tours, and accommodations that you’ve paid for in advance.
This kind of coverage can be useful even if you aren’t flying to a far-off destination. Hurricanes can impact ferry routes, railway lines, and even road and bridge access to your destination.
A hurricane hits your destination during your trip.
Another situation that may occur is that the hurricane hits in the middle of your trip. Maybe the hurricane wasn’t a major threat when you got on your flight, but it’s changed course and now your destination is under a mandatory evacuation order.
You’re faced with either having to cut your trip short and go home early or extend your stay until the storm lets up and you can travel home safely.
If your trip interruption insurance includes hurricane coverage, then you’ll be covered if:
- You have to evacuate your hotel or accommodation
- You have to find alternative transportation to get home
- You experience travel delays or missed connections
- You’re unable to leave your destination safely
The specific terms of your coverage will depend on your policy and whether you have coverage for travel delays and for non-medical evacuations.
If you are covered, then you can expect to be reimbursed for the unused portion of your trip, or for the cost of additional flights or accommodations incurred due to the hurricane.
A hurricane hits back home.
Hurricane travel insurance isn’t just for natural disasters that impact your destination. It may also cover expenses incurred when a hurricane impacts your primary residence.
For example, if you’re traveling in Europe and find out that your home in the U.S. has been hit by a hurricane, you may decide to cut your trip short and fly home immediately.
Your travel insurance won’t cover the damage done to your home, of course, but it may cover the unused portion of your trip and the cost of rescheduling your flights.
Likewise, if a hurricane closes an airport where you were scheduled to catch a connecting flight en route to your final destination, you may be covered by your travel insurance policy.
When Should You Buy Coverage?
There’s one more thing to keep in mind when buying hurricane travel insurance, and that’s when to buy it. It’s important to buy hurricane coverage well in advance of your trip.
If a hurricane has been named or an evacuation order has already been issued, then it’s too late to add hurricane coverage to your travel insurance.
Most insurers will refuse to cover you for a “foreseeable event” or a known risk, so if you bought the policy to protect you from a hurricane that has already been named, your claim will be denied altogether.
There may also be a waiting period during which you aren’t covered for trip cancellation, even if a natural disaster occurs. So, play it safe and buy insurance before there’s a hurricane.
How Much Does Hurricane Travel Insurance Cost?
As with any type of insurance, the full cost of your hurricane travel insurance policy will depend on the cost of the trip, the number of travelers, and how comprehensive the coverage is.
As a general rule, you can expect to pay anywhere from under 4% to over 10% of your total trip cost. The best way to find a cost-effective policy for your trip is through a comparison site. That way, you can set the minimum coverage requirements that you want from a travel insurance policy and compare all of the plans that offer that coverage side-by-side.
You’ll be able to read the fine print on each policy to make sure that hurricanes are listed as a covered reason under your trip cancellation and interruption policies.
To get the best rates and the most comprehensive coverage on travel insurance, compare plans on TravelInsurance.com today.