Centennial floods. Forest fires. Hurricane season. Hurricane after hurricane after hurricane. It was a summer of extreme and unpredictable weather, wasn’t it?
So how do you stop Mother Nature from turning your next vacation into a disaster?
“As images of travel disasters flash across their screens this summer, travelers are looking to plan with peace of mind,” says Carol Mueller, vice president of strategic marketing at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection.
But that’s easier said than done.
Avoiding a natural disaster means knowing where disruptive weather conditions are likely to occur. It also means taking all the right precautions. This includes careful planning and purchasing travel insurance. And you need a contingency plan, just in case the weather gods throw a curveball at you.
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How do you know when disaster will strike?
It is almost impossible to predict a natural disaster. If I could, I would have avoided the forest fires that ravaged the west coast during the summer of 2020 or avoided the European heat wave in June. But you can assess the risk of any destination.
“For example, coastal San Diego County has one of the most temperate climates in the world, with a low risk of storms, fires or unrest,” says John Rose, risk and safety manager for the ALTOUR travel agency. “The same can be said for many global destinations, such as the Canadian Rockies.”
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So where are you going?
Jonathan Porter, AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist, says some parts of the world are more vulnerable to disasters. For example, you might want to think twice about traveling to the Bahamas in September, at the height of Atlantic hurricane season.
“It may be cheaper,” he adds, “but it’s more likely that a hurricane could pose a threat.”
Porter also recommends looking at recent disasters for guidance. For example, California has a wildfire season, but it also saw severe fires outside the traditional window from May through October. The same goes for tornadoes in the central and eastern United States, as evidenced by the historic tornadoes that tore through Kentucky in December 2021.
“Watch the weather forecast for your vacation closely and pay attention to any weather warnings,” he says.
AccuWeather predicts an active severe weather season in the United States extending into the summer. The probability of hurricanes and tropical storms is above average. The threat of forest fires, floods and other natural disasters also looms large.
Will travel insurance help in the event of a disaster?
Travel insurance can’t save you from vacation disaster, but it can protect you. Experts say you need to know a few things about how insurance coverage works, though.
Many travel insurance policies cover prepaid, non-refundable travel deposits and apply to natural disasters like fires and floods.
“You can cancel and reschedule your vacation for another period or destination,” says Daniel Durazo, spokesman for Allianz Partners.
Read your policy carefully, says Jeff Rolander, director of claims at travel insurance startup Faye.
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“Some may not cover a disaster,” he warns. “For example, if you only bought health coverage for your trip, it won’t cover a wildfire or a hurricane.”
“An important thing to keep in mind is that it can only provide cover for unforeseen events,” says Narendra Khatri, director of travel insurance company Insubuy.
For example, if a hurricane hits your resort in Florida before your trip begins, you’re only covered if you purchased a policy before the storm got a name.
“Once it becomes a named storm, it becomes a predictable event and would not be overcast,” Khatri says.
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Planning for a natural disaster is more important than ever.
“Being proactive and preparing for the possibility of a security emergency could mean the difference between leaving safely and being trapped in a dangerous situation beyond your control,” said Harding Bush, head of security operations. for Global Rescue, a company that provides evacuation. and travel risk management services.
Now more than ever, you need to know what to do, experts say.
“Specifically, what is your backup plan? asks Chris Emery, editor of outdoor site Ordealist.com.
A travel consultant can help you. Kimberly Davis, founder of Trouvaille Travel International, says a qualified agent can help you find the right travel insurance or medical evacuation coverage. A travel professional can also prepare you for a possible vacation disaster. It helps if your travel advisor has local contacts who can help you if you run into any issues.
“We often organize trips with local destination management companies, which have boots in the field,” she says. “They can monitor events and help with rapid changes or emergency situations.”
The best contingency plans do two things. First, they answer the questions “What if disaster strikes?” and “How will you get home safely?” A travel agent and travel insurance company can help protect you when a wildfire approaches your resort.
The best plans also address the possibility of your vacation being cancelled. Is there a plan B – perhaps an alternative vacation destination somewhere less risky? Here too, a travel consultant can help you. But in the end, it’s up to you to answer these two questions.
Is 2022 too disaster-prone to even take a vacation?
Given all the uncertainties, should you even bother with a vacation this summer? Yes, if you avoid disaster hotspots, get the right insurance and have an evacuation plan, you can still go. And given that many Americans haven’t traveled in two years of pandemic shutdowns, maybe you should go.
Is your travel insurance disaster proof?
What kinds of questions should you ask before buying travel insurance? Here’s what the experts say.
What is the coverage if I am at destination? Travelers don’t always know what insurance covers — and doesn’t cover — in the event of a disaster while on vacation. “Trip interruption coverage will cover any unused prepaid, non-refundable charges remaining during your trip and additional costs related to returning home early,” says Stan Sandberg, co-founder of travel insurance site TravelInsurance.com. Review trip interruption benefits before purchasing insurance. A reliable policy covers up to 150% of unused trip costs and sometimes allows you to join the trip if possible.
What about my property? This is something a policy should be able to cover. “If your belongings are damaged, lost or destroyed, travel insurance will help cover those losses,” says Melanie Musson, travel insurance expert at Clearsurance.com. But again, check the fine print. Some policies cover more, some cover less. Make sure your coverage is adequate. You’ll find it under your policy’s loss of baggage and personal effects coverage.
What does travel insurance not cover? Insurance won’t fix everything. For example, travel insurance companies generally do not evacuate you from a disaster area. For this you will need a MedjetHorizon membership or an insurance policy through a company like emergency CAP Tripside Assistance. In fact, I used my MedjetHorizon subscription to be evacuated from France to the United States at the start of the pandemic.
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