Summertime, fall break and the beginning of the holiday season can be popular times to book travel plans. But, with any travel, it is important to look at the risks and pay attention to weather or events that could impact a trip. An important aspect to focus on during these popular travel times is hurricane season, especially with this year’s season expected to be more active than previous seasons.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from 1 June to 30 November. Forecasters from The Weather Company predict a 60-per-cent chance for an above-average hurricane season this year. This increase translates to six to 10 hurricanes expected, with three to five of them being major. The uptick in hurricane activity stems from multiple factors, including the Atlantic Ocean’s surface temperatures, La Niña and other atmospheric conditions. 2021 is not the first year for above-average hurricane activity, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: 2020 was also a historically active year. And while the number of hurricanes is still expected to be above average, the number we see this year is not expected to exceed last year.
While hurricane season does not usually halt travel entirely, it may affect some travellers more than others. Those more averse to risk may wish to travel during other times of the year. Additionally, while certain locations such as the Caribbean may be more susceptible to damages and effects of hurricanes, this season can impact travel everywhere. Inland locations can be affected by bad weather brought in by tropical storms, even if not directly hit. Airlines are also heavily affected. For example, even if a traveller is not headed to a coast, the flight they are taking may be arriving from a coastline and could be impacted. Travel insurers need to be aware of these risks when speaking with clients to help customers be as prepared as possible.
While weather-related issues can be predicted and tracked by meteorologists, they are hard to plan for and carry many unknowns. When thinking about potential weather problems, it is important that customers looking to book travel start preparing early. Insurance is always encouraged but is especially important when preparing for the unknowns of hurricane season.
Insurance policies for hurricane season
With the unpredictability that comes with weather-related events, all travellers should seriously consider purchasing insurance for their trips during this season. Travel insurance policies cover two primary areas of concern: trip cancellation and trip interruption. With hurricane season, there are four covered reasons that insurers should inform travellers about that come under 'cancellation' or 'interruption' cover. These include:
1. Inclement weather, including a hurricane, which causes a total end of the common carrier's services for at least 48 consecutive hours. A common carrier is an airline, cruise line or any land transportation with a valid license to transport passengers for a fee.
2. The traveller's primary residence or scheduled destination accommodations (for trip cancellations) or scheduled destination accommodations (for interruptions) become uninhabitable and remain uninhabitable during the trip, or are inaccessible within 30 days of the scheduled departure date due to a natural disaster, including a hurricane.
3. The scheduled trip departure city or destination is under a hurricane warning or watch issued by the NOAA Hurricane Center within 24 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure date. At Seven Corners, this specific hurricane trigger was added as a covered reason in March of this year. Previously, travellers were subject to the time limit required by the inclement weather (including hurricane) trigger.
4. Due to a natural disaster (including a hurricane), local government authorities at the scheduled trip departure city or scheduled destination order a mandatory evacuation, which prevents travelling to/arriving at the scheduled trip departure city or scheduled destination.
The benefits of CFAR cover
There are a variety of insurance plans that can help customers to be the most prepared during hurricane season while travelling. Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage is encouraged for travellers to add on if they decide to cancel a trip out of fear of potential storms, as fear of travel is not otherwise a covered reason. CFAR can be applied if the trip is cancelled 48 hours or more before the scheduled departure date for any reason not otherwise covered by the policy. Seven Corners’ data shows that in 2019, we received 54 claims and one CFAR claim related to hurricanes, specifically. 2019 was the fourth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.