Our thoughts and best wishes are with all those affected by the destructive path of Hurricane Sandy, as well as those who will continue to be impacted by the storm’s devastation over the ensuing days and weeks. As cleanup crews begin their work and flood waters hopefully recede, there will be many challenges ahead, especially within the travel industry. With thousands of flights cancelled already and airports and train stations closed for the foreseeable future in some parts of the country, there is potential for disruption that will last for many days, impacting possibly hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Even international travel could be badly disrupted, since a full halt to flights in and out of international airports in the New York Metropolitan area will naturally ripple outward and affect flight patterns and travel plans abroad.
If you are one of the travelers who has already been affected by Hurricane Sandy, or if you had planned to travel within the next week to ten days or so, there are some steps you can take to help sort through any confusion. We recommend the following:
If your flight has already been cancelled or significantly delayed (more than 5 hours):
1. Call your travel insurance provider’s emergency assistance number, which can be found on your policy. Depending upon the type of coverage you purchased, you may be able to receive assistance with re-booking and with finding lodgings, if needed. At the very least, you’ll be able to confirm with them whether your policy covers incidental expenses like food while you’re waiting, and what kind of documentation you may need to provide to file a successful claim.
2. Call your airline and any other travel suppliers you’ve booked with for your trip. In most circumstances, this wouldn’t be a recommended course of action, but due to the severe nature of Hurricane Sandy, many airlines and travel suppliers have made special arrangements to assist passengers and clients. They may be able to provide you with valuable information and support in re-arranging your travel plans, as well as give you some insight into whether or not your particular airline/supplier has decided to provide refunds of any kind for disruptions caused by Sandy.
3. If you’ve determined that you are ready to file a claim with your travel insurance company, call or email the claims department at the company directly to set the process in motion. The contact information should be listed on your travel insurance policy, but if you’ve purchased from a company whose products are offered through InsureMyTrip, you can also access the information for contacting claims assistance on our website.
If you are planning to travel within the next 7-10 days, and are concerned about the impact of Sandy on your travels:
1. We recommend staying in contact with your airlines and travel suppliers first. While their phone lines may be quite busy for a few days, it’s important that you have a sense of how your specific carrier(s) may be faring and what their plans are to get things back on track. If your trip is still several days away, it may be a good idea to follow your airline on social media, either through Twitter or Facebook, so that you can receive continual updates without having to wait on hold.
2. Review your travel insurance policy and make sure you understand what benefits it offers you for travel delays and cancellations, as well as other hurricane-specific coverages such as Destination Uninhabitable and Primary Residence Uninhabitable. Whether or not flights are actually able to depart and arrive by the time you’re scheduled to travel is one thing, but whether you can actually go through with your trip if your home or the lodgings you’ve secured have been significantly damaged is another. If you have any questions about your benefits, we’d be happy to review your policy with you, even if you’re not an InsureMyTrip customer. Our licensed travel insurance experts can walk through your specific policy with you and explain what your policy will cover, and what it may not. They can be reached at 800-487-4722 during normal hours of operation.
3. When in doubt, call your travel insurance company directly to inquire about assistance services and filing claims. The contact information for your specific provider can be found on your policy.
We hope everyone stays safe and well during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.