Trip Cancelled by Hurricane? Check Insurance Benefits

If you were forced to cancel trips to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas or other islands hit by hurricane Irene, you may be eligible for reimbursement of  deposits or prepayments made to tour operators or hotels—if you bought trip cancellation insurance before the official storm warnings went up.

If there was serious damage or service disruption to your destination hotel, if flights were cancelled or  seriously delayed, or if neither your tour operator nor hotel agree to refund all or part of your prepaid fees, you may qualify for reimbursement benefits from your travel insurer. But you need to have your policy close at hand and call your travel insurer to confirm the benefits and limitations of your coverage. Don’t assume that because the storm tracked over your destination or trip route, you automatically qualify for benefits.

If your destination resort remained operational, or if there was no Hurricane Warning issued for that specific area and you cancelled only because you were afraid of the possibility of being hit by a storm, you may not qualify for benefits. Cancelling without concrete justification, not simply a hunch that you may be affected by the storm, is insufficient to warrant benefits.  Also, most trip cancellation plans require at least one third of your trip to be disrupted before the benefits kick in. So don’t cancel prematurely.

Given the high prices of pre-planned resort vacations these days, even limited savings can be substantial, so trip cancellation plans are definitely worth the price.  But they do have limitations, they have caps on the total amounts they will pay, and you should know what those limits area.

When impending storms threaten your destination of choice:

  • Keep your eyes on the weather reports.
  • Stay tuned to official government sources for the issuance of warnings.
  • Stay updated on flight delays or cancellations.
  • Check with your travel insurer before cancelling on your own.
  • If in transit when the storm hits and delays or strands you, save all your receipts for car rentals, overnight hotels, meals, other out-of-pocket expenses.  Some of these costs may be covered if there are no other sources of reimbursement.

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