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Hurricane Season Ends, U.S. Unaffected

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Many travel insurance plans cover trip cancellation because of hurricane & weather.  Depending on the policy, coverage could be available if a hurricane affects the traveler’s lodging, public transportation or the destination.  December 1st marks the end of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season and the U.S. was spared, according to a recent Bloomberg article.

The third-most active Atlantic hurricane season officially ends today after causing at least $1.6 billion in damage and killing hundreds while leaving the U.S. virtually unscathed.

The season produced 19 named storms, with winds of at least 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour, tying for third place with 1995 and 1887, and none made landfall on the U.S. as a hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Only 1933, which produced 21 systems, and 2005 with a record 28, had more.

“It was an incredibly active year but we missed it in the U.S.,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of commercial forecaster Weather Underground Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “We lucked out with the oil spill and Haiti didn’t get totally smacked by a bad hurricane.”

Even though the U.S. avoided major hurricane activity, the active hurricane season still had an impact on vacations to other nearby destinations.  In order for travel insurance coverage to apply, the policy must specifically identify what hurricane related events are covered.  The following is a list of available hurricane & weather coverage:

1 – “Accommodation at destination made uninhabitable”
In the past, even if the hurricane soaked hotel were flattened and the pool awash in filth, travelers would be on the hook for a vacation as long as the airline could still fly them there. With this benefit, they may cancel if they can no longer reach the resort, it has become unsafe, or has lost electricity and running water.

2 – Mandatory evacuation “Conditionally covered” or “Not covered”
If a vacationer is thinking of cutting short her trip because of a hurricane, she should check her policy. “Conditionally covered” means covered for going home early if there is a certain amount of the trip left; this varies by carrier and is usually 50 percent, or four days or less remaining at the end of an evacuation order. If a traveler is “Not covered,” they can’t make a claim if the hurricane missed their destination despite the order to evacuate. (If the hurricane does hit, they can make a claim under the “Accommodation at destination made uninhabitable” portion of the policy.)

3 – “Hurricane warning” coverage
Timing is everything when it comes to buying peace of mind this hurricane season. “Hurricane warning” coverage from Travelsafe and Global Alert Administrators works only if the warning that a hurricane is about to hit comes within 24 hours of your departure date, and only if you’ve held the policy for more than 15 days.

4 – “Complete cessation of common carrier services”
If an airline has stopped flying due to the weather and a traveler can’t get to their destination, they have missed a cruise departure or connecting flight, or they are stuck in an airport, most carriers will let them make a claim. The difference between policies is in the number of hours the airline is down: at least 24 hours of downtime is usually required, though some policies allow claims for any period of downtime.

5 – “Covered for inclement weather”
This benefit is a more liberal version of “Complete cessation of common carrier services” and will allow a claim without the required number of hours’ downtime. This means that if a flight cancellation impacts in some way, a traveler can claim the loss.

Always refer to the certificate of insurnace for details.

Source:  Third-Most-Active Hurricane Season in Atlantic Ocean Ends, U.S. Is Spared