As Hurricane Dorian has caused numerous cruises to be canceled and travel plans to be interrupted, we’ve received a whole lot of questions regarding travel insurance.
In order to get answers about what’s covered and what’s not, we turned to Dan Skilkin of TripInsurance.com for information. As he pointed out, when you’re trying to decide what coverage is right for you, there are two things to keep in mind: You definitely need some form of coverage, and “the devil’s in the details.”
Putting Off Buying Travel Insurance Could Prove Costly
One thing cruisers definitely need to know? That when it comes to hurricane coverage, the policy must be purchased before a storm has been named. Why? Because, as Skilken explains, “travel insurance will only cover you for an unknown loss.”
Which, of course, makes sense. “None of the insurance companies in the market will cover a claim if you buy the plan after the hurricane is named. So we recommend people get their travel insurance as soon as possible. Preferably within 14 days of making your initial deposit for your cruise. Then, you’re covered. And if a hurricane comes up, you’re covered, because you have a plan.”
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t hedge your bets. “If they’re tracking bad weather but they haven’t named a hurricane yet, you’re still covered if you buy insurance before they actually name it,” he explains.
Of course, that’s a dangerous game, because if that storm is named before you finalize your purchase, you won’t have coverage. And trust us, the insurance companies know to the minute when the storm is named. “The claims departments are actually pulling that data straight from the National Weather Service.”
Why It’s Important To Understand Your Travel Insurance Policy
Just because a trip insurance plan seems to cover hurricanes doesn’t mean that it actually covers the issues you might run into because of a storm. Skilken says that while most plans do include hurricane coverage, “how the plan is written will [dictate] how good the coverage is.”
So what sets a good policy apart from a bad one? Skilken says that he recommends a plan that not only has a provision for hurricane warnings, but specifically coverage for hurricane warnings being issued for your trip destination.
The other thing he looks for? Coverage of “a mandatory evacuation being declared because of bad weather or a natural disaster.”
Finally, and he says nearly every policy has this, “a provision for travel delay due to bad weather.” And while all of these are important, Skilken says he is “most sensitive to a hurricane warning being issued for your trip destination.”
How You Get To The Port Could Be Crucial
One question which Skilken recently found himself being asked had to do with, in essence, when their coverage began. “The plan said they would cover the cost if he had to cancel the cruise within 36 hours of the scheduled departure due to a hurricane warning in the area,” he shares.
His client’s question? “He wanted to know that if Miami, his departure port, was under a hurricane warning 24 hours before the scheduled departure, he would be covered for cancellation.”
As it turned out, the answer had to do with very specific language as to what constituted the client’s destination. “If he was just driving,” says Skilken, “and arrived the day of the cruise and then was going to get on [the ship], then Miami would not be a destination. Miami would be the point of departure and the coverage would start when he got on the cruise and left.”
If they planned to fly in or drove in early and spent the night before that they had covered as part of the trip, “at that point, Miami is considered a destination” and, thus, covered if the city was put under a hurricane warning. “So I think it’s a smart move, particularly for all of these East Coast trips right now, to have bought travel insurance in advance and know you’ve got the coverage.”