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.

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.

“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.

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.

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Comments

  • 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