Traveling in Hurricane Season: Is it Worth the Risk?

Among major carriers, only Southwest Airlines does not charge a change fee. The carrier flies to several coastal and island destinations, including Belize, Cancún, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, Nassau and the Turks and Caicos.

You can insure both the airline ticket and lodging costs as well as any nonrefundable tours booked by buying travel insurance. But the key is to buy it before a storm hits; travel insurance is only available before a storm is identified.

“Insurance is designed to protect from the unforeseen and the unexpected,” said Beth Godlin, the president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice, which provides insurance to a number of travel companies. “It’s important for customers to know, if you’re going to buy, buy early.”

Travelers buying insurance can expect to spend between 4 and 10 percent of the cost of the trip, said Stan Sandberg, the co-founder of Travelinsurance.com, a website that compares policies.

Prices vary based on what they cover and how generous they are with pay outs. Some cover 100 percent of trip interruption, and others 150 percent. Remuneration for lost bags can run $500 to $1,000. Medical evacuation may be covered at $50,000 or $150,000. Consumers should compare benefits before buying and, in the case of hurricane coverage, check applicable terms. Most will cover policy holders when a destination is deemed uninhabitable, as was Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, or evacuation is mandatory.

It’s also worth noting that buying travel insurance is a consideration that goes beyond weather. For example, cruises usually reroute during storms, rather than cancel, but Bob Levinstein, the chief executive officer of CruiseCompete.com, a cruise-comparison website, generally encourages clients to buy it for other reasons, such as a medical emergency, routine travel delays or job interference.

To evaluate policies financially, add up the cost of nonrefundable expenses in a worst-case scenario, such as airline costs, lodging deposits, the lodging balance you would be responsible for in the case of last-minute cancellation, and the price of any tour or cruise booked.

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