Traveling this summer? Be sure you consider trip insurance.

With the 2018 hurricane season officially starting June 1, travel insurance company InsureMyTrip is reporting a 20 percent increase in call volume from travelers seeking insurance protection.

Hurricane-damaged sailboat on St. Croix
Given what happened in 2017, that is completely understandable. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate wreaked havoc on a wide swath of the Caribbean and the southern U.S. mainland, leading to a record number of travel insurance sales and, eventually, trip cancellation claims.

Trip cancellation insurance is something every traveler should consider.

However, whether you should buy it depends on a number of factors.

Any type of insurance is, at its heart, risk transference. You’re paying a premium to transfer the risk from you to the insurance company. If the risk is small, such as a $250 non-refundable plane ticket to Vegas for a girls’ weekend, you may decide insurance isn’t necessary. On the other hand, a $6,000 cruise – especially in the Caribbean during hurricane season – is a different matter.

But before you purchase insurance, do your research.

Virtually every airline and cruise operator offers trip insurance protection, as do independent providers like InsureMyTrip. But many credit cards, particularly affinity cards associated with a travel provider, also offer trip insurance if you put your trip on their credit card.

When booking our Alaska cruise in 2016, Princess Cruises offered travel insurance for $190.30 per passenger. However, a quick phone call to the issuer of the airline affinity card I used to pay for the cruise confirmed that my card had protection that at least equaled and possibly exceeded what the cruise line was offering.

Recently, I published an article about enhanced benefits to be offered by the United Mileage Plus Explorer cards and was surprised to learn that cardholders can be reimbursed for any change fee imposed by a travel supplier to change the date or time of prescheduled travel arrangements. A significant benefit indeed.

Even if you don’t carry an affinity card, review what your credit card does have to offer.

If it doesn’t offer trip cancellation insurance, consider obtaining coverage from another provider, but be sure to compare before you buy. And look beyond the premium; look at what is actually covered.

InsureMyTrip.com provided the following examples of how insurance may enable travelers to receive reimbursement of pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs if they must cancel a trip due to severe weather-related issues that are covered under the trip cancellation benefit:
  • Cancel trip due to weather: when common carriers such as airlines and cruise lines cease service due to weather. Many plans require that the cessation of services be for a certain number of hours, usually 24-48.
  • Cancel due to a hurricane warning: when a destination is under a NOAA-issued Hurricane warning. With most plans, however, the warning must be issued within 24 to 48 hours of the scheduled departure, and the insurance must have been purchased at least 14 days before the warning was issued.
  • Cancel because of storm damage at destination: when a hotel, resort, or vacation rental is devastated and made uninhabitable by a storm.
  • Cancel because home is destroyed by storm: when the home of a traveler sustains destructive storm damage.
  • Cancel trip for any reason: this is an optional time-sensitive benefit available on some plans, that allows travelers to cancel a trip for any reason. Reimbursement is usually 50-75 percent of the pre-paid, non-refundable trip cost. This benefit includes specific eligibility requirements.
However, it is vital that travelers who are concerned about hurricanes purchase travel insurance early. 

Once a storm starts forming, it is considered a foreseeable event and insurance coverage will no longer be available to cover losses related to that storm. Only a few plans offer coverage for a NOAA-issued hurricane warning.

Plan prudently, but plan. And go.

Bon voyage!

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photo by Carl Dombek
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