Let's say your upcoming seven-night Western Caribbean cruise -- and a couple of nights at a South Beach hotel in Miami beforehand -- is only a few days away. You notice that a just-named tropical storm or hurricane -- let's hypothetically call it Hurricane Melissa -- is headed that way. Though impending storms rarely result in the outright canceling of cruises, they can result in trips cut short, voyages extended and other inconveniences that could cost you time or money.
What if, at this stage, you decide that maybe travel insurance really is the best means of protection?
Wait: Not so fast, junior. If you wait to book insurance after a storm is named -- and for all those folks watching Tropical Storm Dean, we're talking to you -- it's too late to reap the recoupments of a potential storm-caused claim. That info comes our way via Squaremouth.com, a travel insurance comparison Web site, which tells us that travel policies (see fine print) contain specific language about the timing of your insurance purchase.
This amounts to something like the following: If the storm is named before the insurance plan is purchased, travelers cannot make a claim for losses related to said storm. Common sense? Sure.
AIG Travel Guard's (and others: iTravel Insured, TravelSafe, Access America) wording is "protection from unforeseen circumstances." In other words, you cannot purchase travel insurance if you foresee that (know) something bad may happen -- for instance traveling to an area that the U.S. state department deems a terrorist threat -- and the insurance companies protect themselves from this in writing.
Of course, it should be noted that in the extremely rare instance of a storm engendering cancellation, early cruise termination or lengthening (ships simply change their itineraries to avoid the storm), cruise lines will give refunds, and likely offer disappointed passengers future cruise credit.
For more information on insurance, see our At Your Service: Travel Insurance: Pros and Cons and Hurricane Season Cruising.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
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Another Reason to Purchase Trip Insurance in Advance
August 15, 2007