Hurricanes, cruises, and travel insurance

Cruises tend to be popular with IMT travelers, and because so many of the most desirable cruise destinations are in potential hurricane hotspots, we often hear from customers who are hesitant to book a voyage for themselves or their loved ones at this time of year.  Fear not, cruise-goers: there are several travel insurance solutions that can make you feel more comfortable hitting the high seas.

With a cruise scheduled during hurricane season, there are, of course, a few extra things to think about.  While landlubbers will only have to be concerned about the relative impact of any given storm on their point of origin and their destination, those who are planning a seafaring voyage have to add to that list their safety and comfort while at sea, plus the predicted path of any storms and the relationship of the weather event to each of their ports of call.  In a word…Arrrrggh.

Luckily, there are travel insurance policies that have anticipated all of those needs and can provide relatively widespread coverage for cruisers.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • If a hurricane prevents you from getting to the cruise ship in time for departure: A package policy will generally protect you against Trip Cancellation and Delay.  If you are delayed for a certain length of time specified in your policy (usually about 6 hours), you can receive per diem reimbursement for incidental expenses like food and lodging.  You may also qualify for an additional benefit towards helping you catch up to your cruise ship.  During hurricane season, it’s also worth looking into policies that will allow for a cancellation of the trip within 24 hours of the scheduled departure if the destination is under a hurricane warning issued by the NOAA National Hurricane Center. Additionally, it’s a smart move at this time of year to try to get a policy with an optional Missed Connection benefit.  Ideal for cruisers, the Missed Connection benefit  provides specialized coverage, typically requiring a shorter period of delay, and assisting you in arranging to get to your ship as quickly as possible, ideally at the next port of call.
  • If the cruise ship can’t complete its scheduled itinerary due to a hurricane: This is a bit more complicated, but it’s important for all potential cruisers to understand.  If the ship has to curtail its journey entirely, and you don’t get the full number of days at sea for which you paid, then you may be eligible for a Trip Interruption benefit, which would help you recoup any pre-paid, non-refundable costs for goods and services you did not receive.  On the other hand, if the ship simply diverts its course to other, unplanned ports of call, or is detained for a greater length of time at any port, most plans won’t provide any coverage because the travelers will have received the number of days of accommodation, food, and hospitality for which they paid — whether it was their ideal itinerary or not.

Bad news?  Not necessarily.  While the diversion of a ship due to weather concerns is not always something that you can predict, you can, on the other hand, keep an informed eye on weather forecasts and the predictions of agencies like NOAA to gauge the likelihood of a hurricane bearing down on your planned destination.  Once on the ship, it would obviously be too late to change plans, but a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR)policy would allow you to weigh the risks, examine your options, and decide not to embark on the trip in the first place should it start to seem likely that you might not be able to fulfill your scheduled itinerary because of a hurricane.   This option can give you the broadest level of coverage — so broad, in fact, that we won’t try to handle all the details here.  You might consider talking it over with one of our Customer Care reps so they can speak with you directly about your specific needs.

This is a lot of information to absorb, but the point is, you need not reject the idea of embarking on a cruise because you’re concerned about hurricane season; there are travel insurance options that will cover everything from delays to cancellations to emergency evacuations.  We do recommend, however, that in order to sort through the choices and make the most informed purchase, you give us a call at 800-487-4722.

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