Will travel insurance protect against hurricanes and severe weather in the Caribbean?

The point of travel insurance is that you won’t probably need it, but if and when you do, you’ll be happy you have it–as long as it is appropriate for your vacation.

When my daughter-in-law planned her and my son’s Jamaica honeymoon, a few Octobers ago (smack in the middle of hurricane season), they took my advice and purchased travel insurance. I was willing to suggest a couple of different options, but she was a, shall we say, a independent bride. She wanted to handle the details herself. She did a pretty good job of it too, but there was one occasion before the wedding that stands out in my memory. There was some issue with the caterer that was stressing her out. She hadn’t purchased her travel insurance yet, and called me on a Friday night, a little hysterical. One of her friends (and I think it was one of her unmarried friends, you know the ones that have no idea, the types of things running through the brain of a bride to be), had told her one of those horror stories about a friend of a friend that had bought insurance, and they didn’t read the fine print and were out $6000. We went over the policies, I was able to explain the fine print to her and we were able to get them a policy picked out that covered the specific things that could go haywire for their trip (nothing did, by the way!). She thanked me and told me how lucky she was for having a travel agent for a new mother-in-law. You know I told her, this is pretty much my job, these are the types of things I do on a day to day basis for the couples I work with. That’s why they choose to book their honeymoons or vacations with me. Enough gratuitous self promotion (wink wink).

Last week we discussed hurricanes in the Caribbean and what you could expect booking travel in those areas. In general, travel insurance when you are travelling is a very good idea – unless, of course, you are doing a short domestic hop or weekend getaway. But as very few trips are as important to you as your destination wedding or honeymoon, the peace of mind travel insurance provides is completely worthwhile, and if it’s needed, worth its weight in gold. I highly recommend my clients purchase coverage for their trips.

It is important, though, that you read the fine print before you purchase any policy. Travel insurance plans vary in their coverage, and you need to make sure that you understand what is covered, how to file a claim, your coverage limit, and how you will be paid or reimbursed before you purchase a plan.

As for hurricane protection, specifically, some travel insurance plans do cover hurricanes under certain circumstances. In the event of a covered hurricane or other unforeseen severe weather, travel insurance provides coverage under their “Trip Cancellation and Interruption” benefit. This benefit usually means that if your trip is cancelled for a covered reason, it will refund the pre-paid, forfeited, non-refundable trip costs trip up to the limit of coverage.

If you are worried about severe weather or a hurricane that is near your destination, know that your travel insurance will cover you if the weather directly affects your travel arrangements or accommodations. In other words, if severe weather impacts or delays your trip (because, for example, the airport is closed; you are forced to evacuate your hotel/resort; your hotel/resort is badly damaged; or roads are impassable due to high water), you are again entitled to your “Trip Cancellation and Interruption” benefit. In the case of delay, this benefit covers expenses incurred and reasonable, additional accommodations and travel expenses until travel becomes possible.

However, if you choose to cancel a trip based on what you think might happen – and not because inclement weather has directly affected your travel arrangements – hat would be considered a matter of choice and not a direct loss to your arrangements. In most cases I’ve seen, this is not covered by a travel insurance policy and any changes you make come from your pocket.
There are limits as to how long you can wait to purchase travel insurance and be covered for that particular trip. In many instances, if you don’t purchase the insurance at the time you book the trip, you have 24 hours prior to when the hurricane has been named. Once the hurricane has been named, Trip Cancellation and Interruption losses resulting from that hurricane are excluded from the coverage of the policy.

This is where my years of experience come in:I know the companies that offer different types of policies and have personally dealt with their customer service and agents when an emergency has arisen. but I am happy to make personalized recommendations and advocate for my clients when navigating travel insurance.

I hope this information can help in some way.

Have a good trip and see you next time!

by Molly Sumption, Caribbean Honeymoon / Sandals Expert, Seattle & Portland / subscribe to RSS feed