Florence, the first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, is still more than a week away from even the possibility of making landfall in the U.S. But, travel insurance companies have already declared the storm a “foreseeable event,” nullifying any new coverage purchased after Sept. 6 for travel to and through the hurricane’s path.
Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence to a Category 3 hurricane. Located about 2,000 miles east of the U.S. coastline, the storm’s path was considered too unpredictable to give experts any meaningful likelihood of where, and even if, it would make landfall in the U.S.
Some computer models have the hurricane turning north as it nears the U.S. coastline, tracking close to Bermuda, about 660 miles east of North Carolina. Others have it tracking closer to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Travelers who purchased traditional insurance prior to the storm forming may receive reimbursement of pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs if they must cancel due to severe weather related to Florence.
“Policies purchased before Sept. 6 may have coverage for trip cancellations, trip interruptions and travel delays that are caused by Florence. Customers who have questions about their policy can give us a call,” an Allianz Global Assistance spokesman said.
Additionally, many plans cover cancellation of service by airlines or cruise lines due to weather. InsureMyTrip said cessation of services must be for a certain number of consecutive hours, usually 24-48. Also, a few plans will reimburse a traveler when their destination is under a NOAA-issued hurricane warning within 24-48 hours of the departure date.
InsureMyTrip reported an increase in calls already from travelers concerned about Florence. “While it is too late to purchase traditional travel insurance to cover losses related to Florence, travelers may still be eligible for a travel insurance plan with the ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ benefit,” the company said.
“Cancel For Any Reason” coverage is typically only available within 10-21 days of initial trip payment; the traveler must insure 100 percent of pre-paid, non-refundable trip cost; and the traveler must cancel the trip with their travel suppliers at least 48 hours before the departure date. These plans typically cover between 50-75 percent of trip cost and vary by plan.
Also, most plans cover a traveler when a hotel, resort, or vacation rental is made uninhabitable by a storm, or if the primary home the traveler lives in is rendered uninhabitable.