Lost vacations: Insurance, owners vary on reimbursement

By on August 4, 2017

Gov. Roy Cooper touted tourism Monday while visiting the site.

One of the big questions surrounding the weeklong power outage on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands is whether anything can be salvaged from the lost vacations.

Some people were fortunate enough to find other accommodations. But whether you can recover the money you had already invested in unused rental houses depends on a number of factors.

No two rental management companies or insurance policies are exactly alike.

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Rental insurance is mainly designed to cover illness, death of a traveler or family member, job loss or weather-related travel delays.

Most policies cover broad categories, including mandatory evacuations for hurricanes, but they do not touch on every possible contingency, such as a power outage.

Laird Sager of locally based Red Sky Travel Insurance said he is not aware of any policy issuer who will cover losses based on a mandatory evacuation that was triggered by a manmade event. A construction accident caused the power outage.

Sager mentioned the BP Horizon incident in the Gulf in 2010 and noted that to his knowledge, no travel insurance companies paid for the many vacations that were canceled as a result of the oil spill along the Gulf beaches.

Red Sky does have a provision in their policy that allows a claim to be made in the case of a road closure.

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“Red Sky is looking at each individual claim, and we are paying claims if the road closure provision is applicable,” he said.

In a statement Thursday, CSA Travel Protection, which issues policies through several local rental agencies, encouraged policy holders to file a claim on its website, csaclaims.com, or by calling its hotline 800-816-9454.

The company called the outage a “man-made event of unprecedented scope and duration” and said “we are covering this event due to the mandatory evacuation.” A company spokesman said the company does not cover mandatory evacuations for any reason but will in this case.

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Midgett Realty on Hatteras Island has posted an information sheet on its website. It says that coverage is based on a renter’s state of residency and offers details on what to do next.

The Voice reviewed policies offered under the Travel Guard brand by two Hatteras-based rental companies, and the coverage offered will pay only if a named hurricane occurs that was “not foreseeable” at the time the rental was booked.

There were also provisions for inclement weather affecting travel, such as flight cancellations, or a rental home rendered uninhabitable due to natural weather occurrences, vandalism or fire.

There were no specific provisions for any other reason, including road closures or mandatory evacuations.

Owners were given deposits back in the spring, so that money is out of the rental company’s hands and refunds are up to individual owners.

Rental companies typically require half payment at booking and the balance two weeks before arrival.

Comments

  • Avonbound

    I am a home owner in Avon. I do not rent my house, but if I did, I would make sure these people get their money refunded! Even if I had to write them a check myself, to make sure they get refunded! The hell with vacation insurance, and rental companies! This is the right thing to do so these tourists will return to this beautiful island…. with no bad thoughts! It’s called “good faith” people!

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 8:42 am
  • Michael Condon

    It would be “The Right Thing To Do” and refund peoples money and not keep it reguardless of the insurance contract.
    That’s just good business.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 9:15 am
  • Lisa Dario

    We can understand how refunds are optionional. Evacuation or Not….the home was not in the condition we paid for. With no power….inoperable pool & hot tub the rental fees should automatically be refunded. The owner shouldn’t be able to keep our money….period.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 9:18 am
  • Lisa Dario

    CAN’T Understand^^^

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 9:19 am
  • Tammie Entwistle

    The renters money should be returned. They had no choice but to stay away when a state if emergency and evacuation has taken place therefore the houses aren’t available to them . The rental agencies should have offered alternative accommations if possible and transferred the money paid to the new rental or refunded the money paid because they cannot hold up their side of the agreement. Our family has rented on the Outer Banks for years, luckily we were not affected but if we were we may not return after losing out on our money like that.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 9:33 am
  • Jason Hollowell

    Refunds should be given by Rental Companies and they then sue for loss of revenue to the insurance company covering the bridge construction.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 9:49 am
  • Dylandog

    The law is silent on WHY a mandatory evacuation was declared because it is unforeseeable every circumstance that may cause such an order. So, the landlord is required by statute to refund the money UNLESS the renter was offered insurance and refused or did purchase the insurance and thus the insurance underwriter is responsible for the refund, not the property owner.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 9:55 am
  • Charles Emery

    I understand not having insurance. But having insurance and to be told sorry your not covered. That’s inexcusable you pay all that money to be told sorry your out of luck. That’s just stealing!! There was a state of emergency. We couldn’t drive down and pass the road block and say I’m here give me my house. Somebody needs to look at this and make a decision.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 10:00 am
  • T.W. Mangrove

    In this age of market economy meets social media, vacation rentals companies can be made or broken depending on how fairly they treat their customers after this.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 10:05 am
  • gsurf123

    @Michael Condon…That is exactly right.

    The insurance trap is just posturing. The realty companies really need to think this through as they most likely will find themselves staring down multiple lawsuits or a class action lawsuit. No one walks away from a multiple thousand dollar loss without taking action. And the money is only a part of it, as there are some angry renters who used vacation days to not be here.

    The upside is what @T.W. Mangrove mentioned. These companies and individual owner’s will be slaughtered on the internet for which there is very little recovery.

    Selling insurance that does not cover loss of use should not even be allowed as that is what it is supposed to cover. Like most insurance they have no trouble accepting the money, but the “alligator arms” come out when payment is requested.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 11:25 am
  • Ken Buxton

    Interesting. I need to read my vacation insurance policy in detail. We’ll hit Hatteras Village in 2 weeks for 2 weeks so we feel somewhat blessed that power is on.
    I assumed travel insurance would cover this event for folks. That not being a given is an eye opener.
    What we have here is a lawyer’s dream and an agent’s nightmare.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 11:53 am
  • Annette

    We save all year. It is not easy. We forgo many pleasures during the year so we can indulge ourselves on beautiful Hatteras Island. We bring our grandkids every year, who are now young teens and pre-teens. We are essentially bringing future vacationers when they enter adulthood.
    They know we have already lost a week because of the evacuation and even have asked me and my husband if we’re getting our money back. I told them I certainly think so (we did purchase insurance). I hope we don’t have to tell them no refund because that will certainly change how I plan vacation for next year. Be there tomorrow for the second week we booked.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 1:07 pm
  • Willard Whyte

    Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield! You rolled the dice and lost, so get over it! At least no one lost his or her life! Be tankful for that!!!

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 1:28 pm
  • Lorri Chambers

    I want to say this to all of the realtors who are being less than admirable and correct in dealing with refunding money to the much needed visitors who have made the Outer Banks a tourist destination.

    Get it together and do it now. Give them their money back insurance or not. Your companies will be the ones that benefit in the long run. I would never rent a place in the Outer Banks again if I was being treated the way the visitors are currently.

    Customer service is a important part of our lure to spend their time and $$$ here. I have handled retail since 1999 and in all that time I had two customers not happy with results and I had to eat some of my income from them even tho I knew I would never see them again. It was just their personality and way. But I did it to try and keep them happy.

    The people who had their vacations ruined by a stupid accident by a construction company do not deserve to be treated like a golden goose that is only to be roasted.

    They will just go to another beach where they will get either good service or at least know what to expect. This news is all over the country not just local. It will burn a lot of tourists bridges and visits if not handled in a admirable and respectful way with the tourists

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 2:07 pm
  • Maslin

    I see none of the other commenters read the part that said the rental companies had already paid all the money to the owners. The owner holds all the cards in these situations.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 2:16 pm
  • Rhonda Lowe

    I fully agree! Do the good faith, good Samaritan thing . . . refund everyone displaced! This shows the customer they mean more than $$! They will surely return year after her when treated right! If stiffed with no refund/no vacation . . . they will be resentful, have bad feelings, and will not return or recommend others! Treat others the way you want to be treated????

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 2:43 pm
  • kdh

    “the right thing to do”

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 2:45 pm
  • Hazel

    If travel insurance doesn’t cover this, then it is up to the property owner, not the property management company as to whether the rental money can be returned. The property management company is merely an agent for the owner and cannot make a refund without the homeowner’s permission.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 2:59 pm
  • Chester Springs

    Last month we went on vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota and booked the hotel a few months in advance with zero money down and the right to cancel up until check in day. It seems like things are backwards in the Outer Banks and renters should be made whole. We’re coming down in a few weeks but it may be our last visit.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 3:16 pm
  • T.W. Mangrove

    Deposits, Maslin. Deposits are in the owners hands, not “all the money”. And those of us who read Willard Whyte’s post should file a class action suit against him for making us all a little dumber for the effort.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 3:20 pm
  • Billyray

    I know I will think twice before renting a home in Ocracoke in the future.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 3:27 pm
  • Avon Property Owner

    I own a home in Avon that I rent through VRBO. I deal directly with my guests, not a 3rd party. My renters did not choose to purchase the optional insurance that I advised them to get through VRBO, but I felt really bad for them after they got halfway here from Canada with 2 kids and then the order went into place so I chose to do the right thing and returned their money so they could vacation elsewhere in the States. My guests were grateful and said they hoped to come back to Avon next summer. I called my insurance company and was told the loss was not covered under my policy, so I’m out $1100 but I will take the hit bec. it wasn’t my renters fault. You don’t have to rent from a big rental company to find a rental home on the island, check VRBO next time and you might have a better experience!

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 4:01 pm
  • Roadrunner

    Any owner or rental company that does not make sure that these renters are made whole are greedy bas…ds and will deserve all of the negative coverage that they get from all types of media.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 4:16 pm
  • David Stradley

    Our firm is handling claims for renters. Here’s a link to our blog on this: http://www.protectingpromises.com/hatteras-ocracoke-outage-insurance/

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 4:49 pm
  • Howdoyousleep

    It is obvious that Rental Property Management companies are like Congress members and receive special insurance benefits that are not available to average citizens.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 4:52 pm
  • Really?

    Too funny! Oh yeah, people will never come here again. Want to bet? Let every disgruntled person complain on Facebook and everywhere else and this place will still be over run by tourists. Get over yourself thinking you can destroy the local economy with your whining. Can anyone comprehend what they read? The rental company can’t make homeowners refund the money so you’re barking up the wrong tree. The rental companies didn’t cause the problem and with all the threats of suing someone it just shows how pathetic people are.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 5:17 pm
  • Jamesr

    Read the statute again, its as plain as day. If the Renter was not offered Insurance that covers Mandatory Evacuations, the landlord is responsible for refunds. If the Renter was offered insurance that covers Mandatory Evacuations, and did not purchase it, it is their loss. If the Renter was offered insurance that covers Mandatory Evacuations, and purchased it, the Insurance company is responsible for refunds.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 5:30 pm
  • ana vieira

    We should get our money back whether we got insurance or not. It is not ethical for anyone to keep our money if we never utilized the property. How would the owners like if this happened to them?

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 6:20 pm
  • Michael

    Agree they should get refund, agree I hate to see families lose there vacation and memories, and business owners suffer, but one thing about it, rental companies know they can get away with it. It won’t affect them. All of us locals that have been here for decades know, every year gets busier. People won’t stop coming. I don’t know if it’s just an obsession with obx, or memories from there past vacations and family memories, it’s not my business to judge, but they will never stop coming here . So the argument that it will hurt , not true

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 6:44 pm
  • Miz Greenthumb

    I work in the rental industry and personally know of at least one company that has been paying claims since the first day. Don’t target them all with the same brush.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 7:50 pm
  • Jim

    If I had Red Sky insurance, I would argue that there was a “road closure” at Oregon Inlet preventing access to my rental cottage. If I had Travel Guard insurance, I’d argue that a “natural weather occurrence” (i.e., summertime heat) prevented access to my rental cottage because, but for the heat, AC units would not have been running on the Island, so the temporary generators would have been adequate to service the entire island (including tourists), and the mandatory evacuation would not have been necessary. These arguments may or may not prevail. However, my point is that the insurance companies’ first (and second) answer is always “we deny the claim”. Always. It’s up to each individual policy holder to make a case that will pressure (i.e., force) the insurance companies to “do the right thing”. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is in the insurance industry. Always.

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 8:48 pm
  • Mary

    Come on!!! This was a NC State of Emergency mandatory evacuation!!! Man made or not…”Do the right thing”. Give the people back their money without any questions..insurance or not!! It will come back to you!

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 10:09 pm
  • Flyguy

    First of all, I have to say that I feel very bad for anyone that lost their money over this! I mean that. So the real question is, how many people, that purchase insurance asked the question my father told me to ask before purchasing insurance, which is, “WHAT IS NOT COVERED!” Anyone that asked it and got lied to, needs an immediate refund and no questions asked. We all know that 99% of everyone that got the insurance, read the policy, right??? LOL! I am sure some did read it and probably not one person asked the question I mentioned. If they did, REFUND THEM NOW! So with all that being said, How about the rental companies have the insurance companies add additional coverage for this type of situation. It would be an additional fee and could be rejected. Once all the logistical and cost issues are calculated and put into place, nobody could possibly complain, God forbid this situation happens again. What do you think?

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 10:28 pm
  • Craig

    It seems to me that the right thing to do is to refund the money paid by the vacationers whether or not the contract verbiage does not require it. Put yourself in their shoes and think it through. The business and cottage owners who have incurred financial losses as a result of the power interruption should be made whole by PCL. Keeping the money of innocent vacationers merely leaves a bad taste in their mouths and you can be certain that they will tell everyone they know how they were cheated on the Outer Banks.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 7:56 am
  • Dave H

    I see that we already have the lawyers trolling for their payola. Serves those who sue right when they only receive pennies while their ambulance-chasers get rich.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 8:22 am
  • Jackie Harris

    Since this is the first time that this has happened maybe it would be good thing if the State Insurance Com. make a rule change that any policy wrote in NC have an evacuation clause in it! Maybe Ms. Boswell could propose a bill on the floor when they go back in session??

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 8:25 am
  • Big Bob.

    You would hope that everything would be covered by the bridge builders liability insurance. Every one should do the right thing! Everyone!

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 8:57 am
  • eli

    To Avon Property Owner – you are a person of honor. You have probably gained more in good will than you lost monetarily. However, consumers need to read the fine print since most insurance is a scam anyway.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 9:18 am
  • Lisa Bradley

    Create a “Hall of Fame” and publish names, property information, and contact details for those owners who refunded in full.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 10:03 am
  • Howdoyousleep

    The rental property managers sell an insurance policy, that the renter pays for, that eliminates any obligation for reimbursement to the renter by NC law………the rental property managers collect the money, skim their 20%, and then distribute it to the property owners and insurance company but have no responsiblity for the product they sell…….sweet!

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 11:10 am
  • Chrissy

    A renter doesn’t have a choice when it comes to buying vacation insurance. Each rental company uses one insurance company so the renter has to take that insurance or go without. The rental company either offers choices for the renter to select from or there should be a standard determined by the Insurance Commission for all policies.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 11:29 am
  • Jackie

    Every rental company on the Outer Banks does not use the same travel insurance company. There is CSA, Travel Guard, Rental Guardian and Red Sky and possibly others. Each company chooses who they do business with.

    The insurance commission does approve and regulate the policies.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 4:47 pm
  • Salvo Jimmy

    Chrissy

    I don’t think that is accurate. I have made many trips to various places, including Europe, Hawaii, etc and I have purchased trip insurance from various sources and many trips have included renting private houses. I don’t believe you have to take what a rental agent offers. I never have.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 6:23 pm
  • ISLANDGUY

    WHAT MOST OF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IS THAT IN NORTH CAROLINA IS UNLIKE MOST OTHER STATES IN ITS RENTAL LAWS. ONCE THE RENTAL COMPANY TAKES THE MONEY FOR THE RENTAL THEY CAN ONLY GIVE IT TO THE HOME OWNER. THEY CAN NOT TOUCH IT OR MOVE IT ANYWHERE ELSE IT’S THE OWNER’S MONEY. THE DECISION IS ON THE HOME OWNER NOT THE RENTAL COMPANY. I

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 6:43 pm
  • Ken Barlow

    If you are not allowed on the island then it is simple in my mind. You SHOULD get your money back. The bottom line is Hatteras Island is a risky destination. Take your hard earned money elsewhere.

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 6:09 am
  • Hinesite in Avon

    We refunded 2 full weeks and 1 day to our guest. Our renters had insurance but were told it was not covered because it was a man made event and not an act of nature. We rent by owner so the decision was easy. We believe that it is the right thing to do in this situation.

    Wednesday, Aug 9 @ 10:11 am
  • Kathy Albin

    The NC renter’s rights states that if you declined coverage that would have clearly covered you for this evacuation, you’re out. Otherwise, you are entitled to the reimbursement. To my knowledge, there is no insurance policy that clearly states man-made evacuation is covered. I’m not sure why these real estate companies are not reimbursing (us) renters and filing a claim with the construction company themselves?? Instead, they send me a copy of my lease and receipt and tell me how to do it!
    Other than already having the consumers money, What makes them any different then the other retailers and business owners on the islands were affected. They should be filing a claim themselves and taking care of their customers. We are talking BIG money in some cases! My rental property was $9,800. I paid for a product I did not receive. And there was NOTHING I could have done as a consumer to change that.
    End of story.

    Ps… This situation has has nothing to do with reading policies. And as far as OBX being a “risky” place to travel, you can say the same for the businesses. It’s a risky place to do business too! Why should the renters always be the one out the money??

    Wednesday, Aug 16 @ 12:06 pm
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