Today is the anniversary of the day Superstorm Sandy swept across the East Coast, devastating many areas, including the Jersey Shore. Today also happens to be a day when the middle of the United States is bracing for possible snowfall of up to a foot in some areas. It’s also just a day after a serious storm with high winds in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe snarled travel and caused several deaths and severe injuries. In other words, if ever there were a time to talk about weather and its impact on travel, this is it.
If you look at it from a travel perspective, we’re at an odd and critical place, weather-wise. It’s the end of October, which means that the Atlantic hurricane season — a much-hyped part of the calendar each year — is winding to a close. This year’s season was supposed to be relatively active, but as it turns out, it was much ado about nothing. Yet the winter storm season has already begun, with the first named storm, Atlas, sweeping through the plains early this month. And though a friend of mine who lives in London remarked wryly, “I thought one of the benefits of living here was that ‘urricanes ‘ardly ever ‘appen,” a remarkably hurricane-like storm has now shown us that not even European travel is exempt from weather-related delays in the fall.
So this is, I guess, a sort of tipping point. We’re bridging from one well-known severe weather season to the next, from hurricanes to blizzards. And if examining recent weather patterns tells us anything, it’s that we know nothing. We can’t predict what’s coming or where it will hit. All we can do, as travelers, is prepare for whatever might come our way. These basic tips can help you to understand how travel insurance can be a part of that preparation.
- Don’t wait. As with purchasing travel insurance at any time of year, the sooner you buy a policy, the more coverage options you’ll likely have to choose from. We generally recommend buying as soon as you’ve placed the first payment on your trip; a good rule of thumb is to wait no longer than 10-30 days after that point. Beyond 30 days, you may find that your choices for valuable benefits like Pre-Existing Conditions Waivers and Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage are limited or even non-existent.
- Understand the “Unforeseen.” Travel insurance policies are written to cover you for “unforeseen” events — in other words, things that couldn’t have been predicted at the time you bought the policy. Remember, if you’re watching the Weather Channel, your travel insurer is, too.
- Brush up on the benefits. Do you know the difference between trip cancellation and trip interruption? Is CFAR right for you? How many hours would your common carrier have to be delayed, sticking you at the airport, before your travel delay benefits kicked in? These are the basics of buying a comprehensive travel insurance policy to protect yourself from weather-related disruptions, and they’re questions you’ll need to be able to answer before you decide which plan is right for you.
Even if you’re not through making your travel plans for the coming months, now is a perfect time to start getting the answers to your questions and researching what kind of travel insurance coverage would best suit you. While travel insurance is never a one-size-fits-all product, at the very least, you’ll probably want to make sure you’re buying a plan that offers you some coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, travel delay resulting from inclement weather, and baggage loss and delay. Depending on your individual trip details, you may also want to look for missed connection coverage or CFAR to give you additional security. If you need guidance or want to discuss the options with someone, give our Customer Care Center a call, even if you’re not ready to buy a policy right now. Getting the right information now can help you be better prepared later.