TRAVEL INSURANCE? DO YOU NEED IT?
Plus What You Need To Know About Hurricane Season In North Carolina
By Beth Pittman, Outlander North Carolina LLC
Whenever I travel (which is not much), travel insurance is a must. I don’t like taking chances. What if something happens to me or a family member, i.e., an accident or an illness, which results in me having to cancel the trip? What if there is a weather emergency that prevents me from attending? If I have purchased non-refundable tickets, airfare and/or accommodations, I’ve lost a lot of money. I don’t like losing money so I’d rather pay the relatively small amount that it costs for travel insurance.
Death, Accident or Illness-Related Cancellations
In the past, I have tried to offer rain checks to those who have not been able to attend the Homecoming because of accident or illness. Beginning in 2020, I will no longer be able to offer rain checks. It is my sincere hope that nothing happens to any of you to prevent you from attending the Homecoming, but if it does, I will feel much better knowing that you have insurance to reimburse you for your ticket, transportation and lodging costs.
I’m not an insurance agent so I can’t give you insurance advice, but you will find that many, if not most, travel insurance policies cover death, illness and accident-related trip cancellations. Of course, as you are trying to decide on a policy, it’s up to you or your insurance agent to be sure the policy covers what YOU need it to cover.
Weather-Related Cancellations & Hurricane Season
As we move closer to the Homecoming, we also move closer to the peak of Hurricane season which is the month of September according to NOAA. August is the second highest month for hurricane activity and October is the third.
According to Weather Bug, “nearly 90 percent of major hurricanes to hit the U.S. between 1900 and 2000 occurred prior to October. Since the hurricane tracks tend to shift farther south in October, south Florida is at greater risk for tropical activity. Between 1900 and 2000, Florida was hit by six major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) and south Florida was hit by five major hurricanes from 1900 to 2000.”
With that being said, statistics from the NC Climate Office indicate that 53 tropical storms/hurricanes have affected North Carolina the week of October 8 through October 14 between the years 1851 to 2018. The last one was Hurricane Michael in October, 2018 which arrived in North Carolina as a tropical storm. Prior to that, it was Hurricane Matthew in October, 2016. This means there is the possibility.
In September, 2018, Hurricane Florence came plowing towards North Carolina the week prior to the first Homecoming which was held September 20-23. Most of the time, hurricanes don’t make it as far inland as Florence. It was a powerful storm and nearly came to a screeching halt as it moved into North Carolina, dumping tremendous amounts of rain and causing major damage. It was a very eye opening experience for me as host of an event where people were needing to travel to the area in just a few short days. For those of you who attended the Homecoming in 2018, you know what a tough call it was for me to make as I did not want to endanger any lives. I was tracking the hurricane plus keeping up with updates from NC Emergency Management, the Governor's Office and the Highway Patrol. I was also in contact continuously with Leatherwood to see how the conditions were there. I was finally able to wave the green flag on the event the Monday before the Homecoming was to start and, thankfully, most everyone was able to make it!
Another benefit of travel insurance is that a hurricane could hit another state with entirely no effect on North Carolina. The Homecoming would go on without question but, for example, if you live in Florida where most October hurricanes strike and can’t travel due to a hurricane, are you protected? Also, remember Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast United States in October 2012. Travel insurance typically pays if your home or your destination is deemed uninhabitable due to a natural disaster. (Please check any policy you are considering for terms. For example, AAA's travel insurance defines uninhabitable as “a natural disaster, fire, flood, burglary, or vandalism has caused enough damage (including extended loss of power, gas, or water) to make a reasonable person find their home or destination inaccessible or unfit for use.”)
I tell you all of this because I want to remind you about the Refund Policy for the Homecoming and to encourage you to purchase travel insurance if you feel so led. Travel insurance is truly a small price to pay in the event:
You can also purchase travel insurance online. I did a quick online search and there are lots of sites you can choose from to review policies and get a quote for travel insurance. Here’s a couple of sites that came up at the top of my Google search: Insure My Trip & Allianz Travel. Of course, please search on your own as I cannot recommend any travel insurance sites.
I would encourage all of you to take a look at purchasing travel insurance. Decide for yourself if it’s worth it. Take into consideration the monies you have paid for Homecoming tickets, accommodations and/or for airfare and decide for yourself. My own personal opinion is that it’s a great thing to have in case the unlikely happens.
Beth Pittman, Outlander North Carolina LLC
P.S. Please don't wait until you see a storm brewing in the Atlantic because once it’s been named, most travel insurance will not cover you.