It's a well-known fact among travelers that there are certain times of year, and certain types of weather events, that don't bode very well for punctuality in travel. Winter storms can shut down airports, train stations, and even whole cities; high wind gusts can ground flights; and hurricane season comes with complications all its own.
Short of refusing to travel at any time of year that may bring weather-related cancellations and delays – which seems hardly practical, since there's always inclement weather somewhere in the world, and snow in Oslo can still affect the timeliness of a flight schedule in London – what can travelers do to make sure they are protected in the event that Mother Nature doesn't comply with their plans? Travel insurance is one solution that can provide many important benefits, as long as you understand what kind of coverage you're really buying.
In the case of a standard weather-related cancellation or delay, travel insurance can offer coverage that reimburses you for the costs you might incur during the wait. If you're delayed for six hours or more (depending on your policy), you may be able to get reimbursement for incidental expenses for necessities like food, or even temporary lodgings if the delay is particularly lengthy. With some travel insurance policies, you may also have the option of receiving assistance through your travel insurance provider with making arrangements for alternative lodgings and transportation as needed. The travel insurance provider may be able to help you get a seat on another flight, for example; change your rental car reservations; or get a room at a nearby hotel while you wait for the next available flight to your destination. Travel insurance may also offer benefits that assist you in the event a weather-related delay forces you to miss a connecting flight, ground transport, or sailing of a cruise ship.
However, it's crucial to note that none of these benefits would be available to you if the delays and inconveniences you experience are related to a "known peril" – that is, a weather event, like a hurricane, that was predicted BEFORE you purchased your travel insurance policy. In other words, if you think there is even a remote chance that your travel plans will be impacted by some sort of weather event, it's a wise idea to purchase a travel insurance policy as soon as you've made your first payment on your trip. That way, you'll be covered for the effects of any storm that develops from that point forward. If you were to wait until a tropical storm or hurricane had already been identified to purchase your insurance policy, any disruption to your plans resulting from that identified storm would be excluded from coverage. It's a bit like buying homeowner's insurance after you've noticed that your smoke alarm is going off – if you know there's already a likely issue, your insurance company will not offer you benefits.
Because it's impossible to ever truly predict what Mother Nature may do, buying a comprehensive travel insurance policy that meets your needs as soon as you've planned your trip is generally a good investment. With an early and informed purchase, you're more likely to avoid a claims issue later on, and more likely to enjoy the many benefits a travel insurance policy can offer you.
Buying Travel Insurance for Hurricane Season
When is it too late?
You probably know that buying travel insurance to protect your trip during hurricane season is a smart idea, but did you know that once a storm has been named, it may be too late to buy some of the benefits you really need? This coverage chart shows why we recommend buying your travel insurance before a storm threatens your plans.
Beforethe Storm is Named
Afterthe Storm is Named
|Primary Residence Uninhabitable|
|Storm-Related Travel Delay|
|Storm-Related Common Carrier Cancellations|
|Death in the Family|
|*Cancel for Work Reasons|
|*Cancel for Any Reason|
*Time-sensitive benefit. Depending on the insurance plan you purchase, you may need to buy your travel insurance within 10-30 days of making your first trip payment in order to be eligible for these benefits.