PATRICK CLARKE JUNE 07, 2019
2019 Atlantic hurricane season is already underway and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting it will last around six months and produce anywhere from nine to 15 named tropical storms, between four and eight of which could develop into hurricanes.
Subtropical Storm Andrea kicked off the season early for the fifth consecutive year when it formed south of Bermuda last month. If previous years and the start of 2019 are any indications, travelers should anticipate disruptions.
According to Allianz Global Assistance, the travel insurance and assistance provider received a total of 6,700 claims from customers whose travel plans were impacted by hurricanes or storms last year alone.
When Should I Purchase Travel Insurance?
Never take a wait-and-see approach when considering travel insurance after you’ve paid for your trip. Timing is everything when purchasing a travel insurance plan that benefits you in the event that a tropical storm or hurricane is impacting your travel or destination so the most important thing is to buy it at the same time you book your trip.
“Hurricanes can disrupt thousands of trips each year, so it’s important to consider travel insurance when planning to visit affected areas,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing & communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA. “Once a storm has been named, it becomes a ‘known and foreseeable event,’ meaning it’s too late to buy travel insurance to cover it. Your best bet is to buy insurance when you book your trip to protect you and your investment from hurricanes or other unexpected occurrences.”
“The question is what do you do as a traveler or a travel agent to protect your clients? I’d always suggest you purchase travel insurance. Book a trip and pay for travel insurance. It’s 5 percent at the low-end and 7 percent at the high-end average cost versus the price of the trip and trust me, you’ll hope you don’t use it. If you have a $4,000 package for two people traveling to an all-inclusive resort, you have to spend $280 at the high-end to insure that trip.”
What Are the Benefits?
The right travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance can cover a lot of essentials in the event of an unexpected storm, including reimbursement for non-refundable, pre-paid costs plus the additional cost of flying home early up to the maximum costs outlined in your policy.
Travel insurance can also reimburse you for the cost of a hotel room, meals and other essentials if your return home is delayed due to severe weather. Most importantly, travel insurance doesn’t just protect your wallet. In the event that you’re injured in a storm, the right travel insurance policy can cover emergency medical and dental procedures and provide emergency medical transportation benefits.
“God forbid that something happens and you need to be medevacked out. People don’t realize that you can get the insurance that will direct you to a local doctor if they’ve been vetted and they’re qualified to take care of your problem. You’re going to have those procedures covered,” Murphy added. “Buy travel insurance. Make sure you’re covered all the way out.”
What Does and Doesn’t It Cover?
Allianz recently expanded its OneTrip Premier product to include even more covered reasons to cancel or interrupt a trip, including mandatory evacuation and a hurricane warning.
In addition to aforementioned benefits such as reimbursement for trip interruptions or cancellations and coverage for emergency medical procedures and transportation, travelers can secure policies that provide reimbursement for travel delays, lost, damaged and delayed baggage as well as change fees and loyalty program redeposit fees, among others.
It’s also important to know what travel insurance won’t cover during a tropical storm or hurricane. For example, if a hurricane forces a cruise line or tour operator to offer an alternate itinerary that’s the same value as the one you originally booked you haven’t suffered a financial loss and therefore won’t be covered if you decide to cancel your trip.
Meanwhile, if your destination is left uninhabitable following a natural disaster, you’ll be covered. However, minor inconveniences resulting from a storm such as a room change or an amenity such as a golf course being closed for the duration of your stay won’t qualify for coverage.
Allianz Global Assistance offers a 24-hour hotline featuring a multilingual assistance team to answer those questions and any others you might have in the event that an issue arises.
For more information about how to find the right travel insurance plan for your trip this hurricane season, talk to your travel agent or visit AllianzTravelInsurance.com.