Extreme Weather Worries: FAQs About How Travel Insurance Can Protect Your Trip
Last updated on 01/11/2024
WARWICK, R.I., Sept. 18, 2023 -- Weather and natural disaster-related travel issues have recently dominated news coverage. Everything from wildfires to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes — and even extreme heat — have caused travel disruptions. While weather-related vacation issues are unpreventable, travel insurance can make dealing with it less stressful for travelers.
InsureMyTrip's Director of Product, Meghan Walch, is answering common questions about how travel insurance works when it comes to extreme weather and natural disasters.
Q: What happens if flights are grounded because of extreme weather or a natural disaster?
Walch: Many plans may cover a traveler when common carriers — such as airlines and cruise lines — cease service due to weather. The cessation of services must be for a certain number of hours (the number of hours differs from plan to plan). Some plans may also offer coverage in the event that smoke from wildfires causes a flight delay.
Plans may also offer coverage under trip delay if flights are grounded, and travelers need to purchase additional meals or overnight accommodations.
(Note: there are per-day and policy maximums for this benefit.)
Q: A storm or natural disaster damaged my resort – am I covered?
Walch: There may be coverage under trip cancellation or trip interruption if a hotel, resort, or vacation rental is devastated and made uninhabitable by a storm, natural disaster, or if there is a mandatory evacuation at your destination where local authorities are saying you should leave due to danger posed by a storm or natural disaster.
Q: What if my resort is in the path of a hurricane?
Walch: A few plans may cover when the traveler's destination is under a NOAA-issued hurricane warning.
However, with most comprehensive travel insurance plans, the NOAA-issued hurricane warning must be issued for the traveler's destination within 24-48 hours of the traveler's scheduled departure.
Q: What if I no longer want to travel because of extreme heat (or another issue) at my destination?
Walch: For the flexibility to cancel a trip for reasons other than those listed as "covered reasons" on a policy (like changing your mind or fear), a traveler may consider Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) protection.
CFAR is an optional time-sensitive benefit available on some plans that allow a traveler to cancel a trip for any reason, typically up to 48 hours before the scheduled departure. Reimbursement is usually 50-75% of the prepaid, non-refundable trip cost.
A traveler must meet specific eligibility requirements and typically must purchase a policy with CFAR within 14-21 days of making an initial trip payment or deposit.
Q: Will I be covered if I buy travel insurance after a storm or natural disaster impacts my travel plans?
Walch: No. Travel insurance covers unforeseen events. So, if you buy a policy after a wildfire or storm is known, you will not be covered. That's why it's advised to purchase travel insurance as soon as you make a prepaid, non-refundable payment to ensure you are protected against any unforeseen events and to receive the maximum amount of coverage.
Q: Will the airlines or cruise lines provide compensation for delays or cancellations due to weather or natural disaster?
Walch: Flight cancellation policies vary by airline and circumstance. When an airline cancels a flight due to bad weather, most will try to rebook passengers on the next available flight.
Airlines are not required to reimburse travelers for losses incurred due to a canceled flight if it is for a reason beyond their control – like weather. Travelers concerned about protecting pre-paid, non-refundable trip expenses should consider traditional travel insurance.
* Note: all terms and conditions, coverage limits, and benefits differ from policy to policy. It is important to review and understand the details of a policy before purchasing.
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