Hurricanes and Travel Insurance: What Travelers Ought to Know

By Michael DiNatale

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the US Gulf Coast have dramatized the need for travel insurance. Photo courtesy of
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the US Gulf Coast have dramatized the need for travel insurance. Photo courtesy of

What if I get sick? What if the weather is horrible? What if I get hurt? What if something happens to the house while I’m gone? What if, what if? Questions like these constantly rattle the brain of any traveler, yet with travel insurance worries like these can safely be put out of mind.

The right policy can save the day when it seems as if everything is going down the tubes by providing protection in the case of almost any emergency. As an extreme example, some plans will allow for insured travelers to return home if disaster strikes at home while they are away.

But who wants to be constantly checking the news and calling home to make sure everything is the way you left it?

A vacation is a time to get away and leave your troubles behind; that’s why some insurance agents constantly monitor the weather conditions for their customers whose homes may be affected. If the threat becomes imminent the agent will contract the traveler and explain their options.

Severe weather

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the disaster they wreaked on the gulf coast, it is important for people to know and understand what kind of protection is available to them in such situations so that if these situations come up, they can be prepared. When a storm is approaching there are many ways a traveler can rely on insurance, beginning with the early stages of the storm and following through afterward. So what happens when the weather changes your plans?

Some insurance policies provide coverage if your home becomes uninhabitable - photo courtesy of
Some insurance policies provide coverage if your home becomes uninhabitable – photo courtesy of

Under most plans, claims can be made if the weather results in a cancelled flight to or from the affected area. Additionally, in the event of mandatory evacuation, claims can be filed if you have to leave your vacation destination for a few days or if you become stranded by the storm and have to stay longer than expected.

For those concerned about the more extreme possibilities, in the unlikely event that your home is rendered uninhabitable by the severe weather conditions, many plans provide coverage.

However, there are some restrictions on when you can apply for a policy. A “named event” clause is an important part of any policy of which to be aware.

A hurricane, seen from the space shuttle - photo courtesy of
A hurricane, seen from the space shuttle – photo courtesy of

If a storm heading toward your destination area has been named — this occurs when a tropical depression becomes a tropical storm — then insurance can no longer be bought for the trip. This clause protects the insurer’s interests by preventing the purchase of insurance when it is clear that something bad is about to happen. This in turn keeps rates down for consumers.

Other coverage

Travel insurance covers more than weather events. All emergencies and unforeseen events can be covered by a proper plan, giving you the piece of mind you need to truly relax and enjoy your vacation.

Travelers can claim reimbursement if their trip is cancelled or cut short for anything from sudden unemployment to death or illness. Even events like terrorism, airline strikes or house fires are covered by most plans.

Even small inconveniences can be covered. If your travel arrangements are delayed, claims can be filled to cover additional hotel stays, clothing costs or even the cost of catching up with a cruise if you miss its embarkation. Baggage loss can also be covered; and not just loss by the airline.

Some insurers also reimburse you for hotels and meals when a flight is postpones or cancelled. Airlines sometimes cover these expenses, but in many cases travelers are oblilged to cover them out of their own pocket.

Damage from Hurricane Katrina - photo courtesy of
Damage from Hurricane Katrina – photo courtesy of

Medical issues are also thoroughly covered, and a traveler can be reimbursed for cost of medical treatment received during a trip as well as emergency dental treatments that may be necessary. Additional coverage may also provide for the cost of being transported from your destination to a local hospital.

Most services will require that you pay the cost at the time a service is delivered and be reimbursed once a claim is filed. Some plans will cover pre-existing conditions if the policy is purchased well before a trip.

Where to look offers a wide range of policy options specially tailored to those who pursue alternative travel destinations and experience. Thus they are a perfect fit for most GoNOMAD readers.

Based in Sydney, Australia, offers policies that avoid expensive and unnecessary add-ons, making them an inexpensive option for travel insurance.

Plans can be updated and changed any time via their website, but just because World Nomads travel insurance is internet based, that doesn’t mean you should be worried about the quality of service. World Nomads has offices in Sydney, as well as business units in Europe and North America, all of which can be easily reached by telephone.

Additionally, World Nomads is backed by Allianz, a large and secure financial institution and through which World Nomad clients are supported 24 hours a day,7 days a week in 28 countries by the Mondial Assistance Group, a travel assistance provider.

GoNOMAD has also partnered with and AIG, the world’s largest insurance company to ensure that our readers can find a travel insurance package that’s right for them.

Michael DiNalale is a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts and a former  intern at


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