Today is one of those anniversaries Americans are likely to observe, in one somber way or another, for some time to come. It was seven years ago that Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and caused catastrophic damage with long-term impacts — some of which are still being felt even many years after the storm’s actual occurrence.
It may be that some people, and some areas of the country, have not fully recovered from Katrina’s fallout; however, with this tragedy as with so many others, the bright spot is that much was learned. Even in the travel insurance industry, the idea that people need and deserve to be protected in whatever way possible from the devastation of a storm like Katrina became crystal-clear seven years ago. Today, we have many of the benefits that are available to travelers during hurricane season largely because of the wake-up call that Katrina provided to our industry.
For example, the Destination Made Uninhabitable benefit is a key asset we try to encourage travelers to investigate during hurricane season. It wasn’t widely available before 2005, but now it’s much more accessible, and provides travelers with the ability to change their plans if their destination (including their hotel or accommodations) is rendered unfit for their habitation by a hurricane. Even more to the point, for those who have survived Katrina and other devastating storms, is the coverage that is now available should your primary residence be made uninhabitable. In other words, if it’s your home, not your vacation spot, that’s been severely damaged by the storm, most travel insurance policies will now recognize that as a covered reason for cancelling your trip.
Of course, part of what many of us learned during Katrina — and have thought of at least once or twice during every ensuing hurricane season — is that it’s vital to everyone’s safety and peace of mind to practice smart preparation and to play it safe, whenever possible. So even before anything catastrophic actually takes place, travel insurance still provides two safety nets to you in the interest of being prepared: Cancel for any Reason coverage and Cancellation due to Hurricane Warning benefits. Cancel for Any Reason is a widely available and quite useful travel insurance benefit that allows travelers to cancel their plans — during hurricane season, or any other time of year — based on their own preferences and their personal comfort level, rather than having to adhere to the insurance company’s list of covered reasons for cancellation. Cancellation due to Hurricane Warning is a lesser-known coverage that some companies are now offering, much to the benefit of hurricane season travelers. Its goal is to give travelers the peace of mind that they could cancel their plans should NOAA issue a hurricane warning that would impact their trip.
While it’s important to bear in mind that any kind of travel insurance coverage for a named storm must be purchased well in advance of the storm’s formation, we’re hopeful that the innovations in coverage that have occurred since Katrina’s fateful landfall 7 years ago can provide increased security and peace of mind to travelers whose plans may be impacted by unpredictable weather events. Our thoughts today are with all those impacted by Katrina and all other catastrophic storms, and particularly with our friends on the Gulf Coast who may be weathering Hurricane Isaac and its effects. We encourage anyone who has questions about hurricanes and travel insurance coverage to call us at 800-487-4722.