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How To Find Travel Insurance For Severe Weather – Forbes Advisor

How To Find Travel Insurance For Severe Weather
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When severe weather strikes, even the best-laid vacation plans can fall apart. A hurricane might disrupt your cruise route or a blizzard could shut down your destination airport.

If you buy a comprehensive travel insurance plan well in advance of your trip, you will be better prepared to take severe weather in stride. The right travel insurance plan can compensate you for weather-related travel woes, but it’s important to know what your policy covers—and what it doesn’t.

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Does Travel Insurance Cover Severe Weather?

Tea best travel insurance plans package together several types of coverage that can protect you financially if severe weather causes travel delays, interruptions or cancellations.

The key is to make sure the travel insurance plan you buy includes the types of coverage you need and lists severe or inclement weather as a reason you can file a claim for reimbursement.

What qualifies as severe weather will be defined by your policy, but often includes:

  • Windstorms
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • fog
  • Rainstorms
  • Hailstorms
  • Snow storms
  • ice storms

Be sure to shop for a travel insurance policy that specifically addresses your severe weather concerns. Plans from these companies offer good hurricane and severe weather coverage:

The types of insurance coverage you should look for in a travel insurance plan for severe weather include:

  • Trip cancellation
  • trip-delay
  • Trip interrupt

Also, look for additional coverage options, such as:

  • Missed connection. WorldTrips offers additional benefits if severe weather causes you to miss a connecting flight.
  • Travel inconvenience. AIG’s Travel Guard Deluxe plan has coverage for certain travel inconveniences, such as arriving in the mountains to ski and finding the resort closed because of inclement weather.

Trip Cancellation Insurance and Severe Weather

If you need to cancel your trip to the Bahamas because a hurricane caused the Nassau airport to shut down, you can turn to your trip cancellation insurance.

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This coverage will reimburse 100% of your insured trip cost, as long as you are canceling because of a problem—such as severe weather—listed in the policy.

There is an exception. In order to file a successful trip cancellation claim, you need to have purchased your travel insurance plan before the severe weather becomes a “known event.” So, if a hurricane near your vacation destination has already been named, it’s too late to buy travel insurance for hurricane coverage.

Also, check for specific timelines for trip cancellation due to a hurricane at your destination. For example, to make an insurance claim your destination may have to be under a hurricane watch issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within three days of your scheduled departure date, and you may have to cancel at least 14 days after your policy’s effective date .

It’s important to note that your destination usually must be inaccessible or uninhabitable due to severe weather for trip cancellation benefits to kick in.

Sometimes severe weather strikes at home, too. If your primary residence is uninhabitable after a named hurricane hits, you can be eligible to file a trip cancellation claim, as long as you bought the policy before the storm was named.

You can also make a trip cancellation claim if your house is uninhabitable due to damage from a natural disaster listed in your policy. That way you can stay home to take care of the damage but still recoup your trip costs with an insurance claim.

“Cancel for any reason” travel insurance upgrade

If you want maximum flexibility for scrapping your trip, add “cancel for any reason” travel insurance (CFAR) to your travel insurance plan when you buy it. This will typically increase the cost of your policy by 50% but will allow you to cancel no matter your reason.

There are some CFAR caveats to keep in mind:

  • You typically need to buy CFAR coverage within 14 days of making your first trip deposit.
  • In order to file a successful CFAR claim, you need to cancel your trip at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure (so, not at the last minute).
  • CFAR generally reimburses 50% or 75% of your insured trip cost, depending on your policy.

Trip Delay Insurance and Severe Weather

Say you’re waiting at the airport and your flight is delayed due to a blizzard at your destination. This is where trip delay insurance can be used.

Trip delay coverage can reimburse you for the loss of any pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses if you experience a delay that’s longer than the waiting period listed in your policy. For example, the specified waiting time can be six hours or 12 hours.

So if that blizzard causes you to miss a day of skiing that you paid for in advance, you can file a claim for this loss, as long as severe weather is listed as an acceptable reason in your policy.

Trip delay insurance can also help pay for a hotel room and meals you buy during a layover due to severe weather. There is typically a daily maximum and overall maximum limit per person for trip delay benefits.

Trip Interruption Travel Insurance and Inclement Weather

Travel insurance usually doesn’t cover minor weather frustrations such as rain that puts a damper on your beach vacation. But if unexpected severe weather causes you to end your trip early, trip interruption insurance can help.

For example, if a tornado strikes at your destination preventing access to the area or making the region uninhabitable, you can file a trip interruption claim. If a tornado blows through your neighborhood back home while you’re away and makes your house uninhabitable, you’re also eligible for trip interruption benefits.

Most travel insurance companies have complimentary 24/7 helplines for policyholders. If you need to return early due to inclement weather, representatives can help you book a new flight home.

Trip interruption insurance covers the extra expense of that last-minute ticket and reimburses you for pre-paid, non-refundable costs you lose by leaving early. But again, only if you’re flying home early because of a problem listed in your policy.

“Interruption for any reason” travel insurance upgrade

For more freedom to end your trip early for any reason, some travel insurance companies offer an “interruption for any reason” travel insurance. This premium upgrade reimburses you for up to 75% of your trip cost, provided you insure the entire value of your trip. It kicks in after a certain waiting period, generally 48 hours or 72 hours into your trip. Like CFAR, you usually need to buy “interruption for any reason” coverage within 14 days of booking your trip.

When Is Severe Weather Not Covered by Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance generally excludes coverage of “known events.” Once a natural disaster is a known threat (and no longer “unforeseen”), it likely won’t be covered if you buy new a travel insurance plan.

For example, if you’re scheduled to leave for a cruise in a week and a new hurricane is named, you can’t quickly buy travel insurance to cover hurricane-related delays or trip interruptions.

This is the best argument for buying travel insurance early, says Jeff Rolander, director of claims at Faye Travel Insurance. “It’s best to buy travel insurance as soon as possible after booking your trip (such as your flights or accommodation). That way, you’ll be protected against unexpected events that might cause you to delay or cancel.”

Many travel insurance companies offer a “free look” period after you buy a policy. Take this time to read the fine print of the travel insurance plan and decide if the policy meets your needs. If not, cancel it for a refund.

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