Evacuations are usually covered by trip cancellation insurance

By on September 12, 2018

One of the big questions on the minds of visitors surrounding the mandatory evacuations in Hyde, Dare and the Currituck Outer Banks is whether they are eligible for refunds from rental management companies since the order came well before the storm arrived — if it arrives at all.

But whether you can recover the money you invested in your cancelled vacation depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is whether you purchased travelers or trip cancellation policies.

Even then, no two rental management companies or insurance policies are exactly alike.

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

Laird Sager of locally based Red Sky Travel Insurance told us last year that in the case of mandatory evacuations for named storms, travelers who purchased insurance from his company should be able to make a claim under most circumstances.

Red Sky calls its beach plans “Sun Trip Preserver” and according to their website, it “protects you against trip cancellation or trip interruption when a mandatory evacuation due to a named hurricane or other natural disaster causes you to lose 4 days or 50% of your trip length. Coverage is also provided if the roadways are closed due to a natural disaster preventing you from reaching your destination.”

Note the four-day requirement, which will apply to almost all vacationers who rented for an week since evacuations on Hatteras and Ocracoke began Monday and the rest of Dare on Tuesday. Also note the reference to “named hurricane,” which in the case of Florence won’t be a problem for renters seeking to make claims.

In the case of nor’easters and unnamed storms that trigger mandatory evacuations, the policy language is less clear.

They have a website set up to handle claims: https://trippreserverclaims.com/claims/specialevent

The other insurer used by many Outer Banks vacation rental management companies was CSA Travel Protection, which is now known as Genrali Global Assistance.

Their policy is similar to Red Sky’s, including the four-day rule, although Generali does not specifically refer to named storms and appears to offer a broader definition of adverse weather.

“A mandatory evacuation (or public official evacuation advisement in geographic areas where no mandatory evacuation orders are issued by government authorities) at your destination due to adverse weather or natural disasters. We will only pay benefits for losses occurring within 30 calendar days after the evacuation order is issued. In order to cancel your Trip, you must have 4 days or 50% of your total trip length or less remaining at the time the mandatory evacuation ends.”

Generali’s website at https://www.generalitravelinsurance.com/ has a link for information and claim filings for Florence and other active storms.

Some caveats exist.

If you purchased your insurance after Florence became a named storm, you are probably not covered for your loss.

Not all local companies use the two insurers; they are merely the most popular, and other insurance companies may have different claims policies. So read your policies if your insurer is different.

No matter who you purchased your trip insurance through, your best bet at determining your eligibility and starting the claim process is to contact the insurer directly rather than the vacation rental management company. If you call them, they will merely refer you to the insurer.

For those who did not purchase renters insurance, the news is generally bleaker.

While refund policies vary between rental companies, in general, most do not offer refunds if the renter failed to purchase travelers insurance. Most rental companies offer these policies at the time of sale and if you decline, you were likely warned that any storm-related cancellations would result in losing your deposit and pre-paid rent.

Typically, Outer Banks rentals reqire a 50 percent deposit at the time the reservation is made with a balance due no later than two weeks before arrival.

The reasons for the lack of a refund option for those not insured are complicated but include the fact that deposit money and the balances before arrival are paid out to the homeowner in most cases before you arrive and therefore, are not controlled by the rental company.

The rental company is more of a middleman between the renter and the homeowner and most of the refund decision for non-insured renters lies in the hands of the owners.

As dismal as that may sound to many, it is still worth a call to the rental management company to determine whether you may receive a partial or even a full refund.

For those who have rentals next week, if you purchased your policy before Florence was named, you should contact the insurer now to see if you still come under the mandatory evacuation rule or some other clause in the policy, such as road closures by authorities or blocked access to your home, making it impossible to occupy the rental unit.

Once again, every insurance company is different and the best way to find out if you are covered is to contact them as soon as you can.

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There is a lawsuit angle for those not having bought the travel insurance, not knowing that getting your claim paid is going to be a battle. The policies requiring 50% days lost in order to pay are all but worthless. The rental companies sold you a product, but it was not delivered to you. The evacuation order was the cause, but that is no different than it burning down before you arrived or a power line being cut. I wonder what the payout rate was for those who filed a claim for travel insurance for that event. I know PCL… Read more »

Steer clear of this illusionary travel insurance. The house always wins. Importantly, this travel insurance is not regulated by the federal government. Put on the rental on your credit card, which offers travel insurance for an Act of God.