Consider Travel Insurance During Hurricane Season

A palm tree blowing in hurricane winds.
••• Mark Lewis / Getty Images

The start of June signifies more than just the arrival of Summer. For those traveling along the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, June 1 also marks the official start of Hurricane Season. 

Hurricane season runs through November each year, with the danger coming to a peak between August and November. While some experts are predicting a tame hurricane season, weather can still play a big part in your vacation plans. Especially for those planning on taking a cruise, or a Caribbean resort vacation in the heart of hurricane season.

Does it make sense to take a vacation to the Gulf Coast or the Caribbean during hurricane season? And if something goes awry, what would travel insurance cover? In the event of a weather situation, let's consider how a trip, and travel insurance, all come into play. 

The Race to Name the Hurricane

Many travel insurance policies cover unforeseen situations when you travel, such as accidental injury, sudden onset of illness, political unrest, and other emergency situations. Once an event can be predicted by an authority, it may no longer be considered an unknown or unforeseen event.

One easy example of this is tropical storm or hurricane. Once a storm reaches sustained winds of 39 miles per hour, the weather pattern becomes a tropical storm - thus earning a name assigned from the World Meteorological Organization. From there, meteorologists will track the storm to see if it carries the potential to grow into a hurricane.

Once the storm is assigned a name, travel insurance providers may consider this a "foreseeable event." When the risk of a "foreseeable event" is presented, many travel insurance providers will no longer offer travel insurance against the hurricane.

If you plan on taking a vacation during hurricane season, consider purchasing a travel insurance policy early. If you wait until after the storm is named, your policy may not cover any losses (such as trip delay or trip cancellation) as a direct result of the storm. Be sure to also read the fine print of your policy to understand what situations your travel insurance may cover, which situations it may not cover, and how to file for benefits.

Purchasing Travel Insurance

Purchasing your travel insurance well in advance of a storm being named could give you many advantages. In addition to being able to cancel your trip due to a hurricane, a policy can cover many other situations as well.

When purchased ahead of a storm, many travel insurance policies cover benefits for trip interruption, trip delay, and baggage loss. Should your travel plans be interrupted by weather, an insurance policy may be able to cover fees for extra hotel stays, rescheduled flights, and replacement items to cover for lost baggage. Be sure you understand all the covered situations for each of these benefits before you purchase a travel insurance policy.

Can You Cancel?

Because of the ever changing nature of summer storms, it can be difficult to predict how and when a hurricane will interrupt your vacation plans. Just because you believe a storm will directly interfere with your plans doesn't mean your travel insurance provider will agree. This disagreement could mean the denial of your trip cancellation benefits, should you attempt to cancel your travels. 

The term "trip cancellation" is one of the biggest misnomers of travel insurance. If you aren't canceling your travel due to an expressly covered reason, you may not get your money back. This is when you should consider purchasing a plan that includes "Cancel for Any Reason" benefits. While you may not be able to get all your money back with a "Cancel for Any Reason" travel insurance plan, you would be able to at least recover some of your travel investment should you decide to cancel your trip for a reason not covered by your trip cancellation benefits.

By understanding your travel insurance policy, and how it may be affected by hurricane season, you can better prepare to weather the storm. Preparation today can help navigate the way during emergency situations, no matter where your vacation plans take you.