As we all have been glued to the TV over the course of the past 2 weeks watching the tropical storm morph into Hurricane Matthew, I cannot not write a post on the importance of travel insurance and what to do if you are traveling during Hurricane Season. In this post I want to cover:
- What to do if you're on your way to the Hurricane Zone
- What to do if you are stuck in a Hurricane Zone
- What if you're planning a trip in the future that happens to be during the Hurricane Season
If you are traveling to the Hurricane Zone and your flight has been cancelled you are entitled to a refund even if your ticket is nonrefundable. Sadly, cancelled flights generally don't happen until hours before departure. This means that you are stuck in limbo doing the dance of “do I stay or do I go”. If you have travel insurance it's an easy decision because you can cancel or change your date without incurring any additional fees. However, if you don't have travel insurance you are at the airline's mercy of calling off the flight to avoid costly non-refundable fees. If you have a non-refundable hotel, travel insurance may cover your loss, however you cannot buy travel insurance once a storm is named. As a side note, check your credit card coverage; some cards provide coverage even in cases of non-refundable travel losses including hotels and meal expenses. One of my favorites is the Aadvantage American Airlines card which has excellent free coverage for trip Interruption and cancellation.
If you are stuck in a Hurricane Zone, again travel insurance or the coverage found on the credit card might help absorb some expenses you incur as a result of the storm. I had a couple of Honeymooners that were in St. Lucia while Hurricane Matthew was still a tropical storm. Although not a hurricane, it did certainly dampen (pun intended) their Honeymoon that week. Tours were cancelled and because they were non-refundable the travel insurance allowed them to get a refund on the unused tours. Thankfully, the St. Lucia airport opened so they were able to get out safely however some of my clients weren't as lucky. In this situation, the hotels offered them one night stay for free and then after that a reduced rate for each additional night. For the clients who did not have travel insurance they had to pay this out of pocket but for those (and there were many) who had travel insurance they could continue to eat drink and be merry and not worry about the extra expense of their impromptu extended vacation!
If you're planning a trip to the Caribbean during hurricane season, I cannot stress this enough, it's a great idea to consider travel insurance! My own honeymoon was a debacle because I did not heed the advice of buying travel insurance. I had non-refundable airline tickets to a destination that had just been hit by a hurricane and the resort I was to stay in looked like a pile of Pick Up Stix! So save yourself the stress and agony and expensive change fees and non-refundable fees and by the damn insurance! It is a small price to pay for peace of mind. There are a ton of reasons why traveling during Hurricane Season are enticing though. Imagine less people, shorter lines at the airport, better service, complimentary upgrades not to mention reduced rates!! Technically, Hurricane Season is from June 1 - December 1. In fact, the bulk of my traveling is done during the Hurricane Season and I have yet to experience anything like Hurricane Matthew. SO, the chances of a hurricane actually happening I realize are slim, and most everybody when booking a special trip always says, “I'm going no matter what”. I think about the thousands of people who had it in their hearts that they were going ‘no matter what’ but when Mom has a stroke or the airline completely cancels every single flights going into Florida or even the one who said, “this is my honeymoon I am going!” sadly these people's plans were affected big time by Hurricane Matthew. Mother Nature is one hell of a force to be reckoned with always be prepared buy travel insurance!