Hurricane Season: Be Prepared to Protect Travel Dollars

Once, when flying to Taiwan for a vacation, we were delayed in Seoul for a night because a typhoon was possibly coming through. The delay didn’t cost us anything because Korean Air put us up and gave us meal vouchers. We also didn’t have an expensive hotel waiting for us in Taiwan. I think we were staying in a hostel or something and our friend who was to meet us at the airport in Taipei contacted them when our plane didn’t show up.

With hurricane (and typhoon) season here, it doesn’t hurt to know some steps to not let the weather wreck havoc on your vacation budget. One suggestion is to get travel insurance. The insurance guarantees a refund if you have to cancel or delay a trip. Extra days in a hotel and rebooking flights are covered. Other expenses are covered also. You may not need insurance though if you’re flexible. (I think this is true after I read the article “Don’t let a hurricane blow summer travel.”)

For example, if you’re already on a trip, and you have to leave your lovely abode on the beach because a hurricane is seriously on its way, the airline, according to the article, will rebook you on whatever flight is available. In this case, you’re already covered. Where the insurance comes in is if you want to change your itinerary because a possible hurricane is coming and you don’t want to take a chance. If you haven’t left for your trip though, you may be able to switch the dates for the trip if a hurricane is heading to where you planned to go.

If you’re on a cruise, the cruise-line may have to rework the itinerary, so the island you thought you were going to is not a destination. In that case, you probably won’t get compensated by a refund, but you can get some credit to spend money on the ship.

Hotels also may refund or give credit for future hotel days for your unused days. To get refunds on admission to Florida’s theme-parks you needed to have bought your tickets through the theme park booking agent. At least that’s what I gathered from this article. When we were in Disney World on Christmas Day it rained buckets for about four hours. It turns out there was a hurricane that passed through 10 miles away. Since the weather wasn’t severe, just inconvenient, I assume this didn’t count. The park was packed.

Basically, if you’re not much of a risk taker and want piece of mind, perhaps it’s worth the cost of the trip insurance to know that a refund is on its way. Here’s a travel insurance Web site I came across that let you compare companies and coverage. Here’s a Lonely Planet link to a travel insurance they recommend for international travel.

Travel Insurance for the Over-65

The UK’s The Independent recently reported a surprising fact: most travel insurance policies–at least in the UK–exclude claims from those above 75 years of age, and fully one third exclude claims from those above 65.

The reasons for travel insurance are obvious: replacement of lost/stolen luggage, trip cancellations, but, most importantly, medical treatment abroad. The latter reason becomes more pressing for those with greater health concerns.

Understandably, travel insurance rates for those who might have medical problems are higher. Another surprise out of the article, however, was that, in their survey, the rates for those above 65 were often double or more than for people under 65. Above the age of 70, rates got as high as three times higher. And that’s only if the policies didn’t outright exclude those in higher age categories.

I’m not sure of the applicability of these findings to policies sold in the U.S., but a word to the wise is warranted. Read your travel insurance policy carefully. If anyone has had experience with travel medical policies they can share, please do.