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BellaOnline's Cruises Editor

When To Purchase Cruise Travel Insurance

When hurricane forecasts are issued or bad weather sets in, vacationers who previously purchased travel insurance can breathe a small sigh of relief. By purchasing travel insurance, these travelers have a powerful defense against the financial impact of flight delays and potential cancellations caused by these severe storms - not to mention the possibility of a ruined vacation. At that point, however, it's too late for those who have waited to insure their travel plans after the bad weather develops.

Obvious? Not so for many travelers, according to Travel Guard International, the nation's largest provider of travel insurance and assistance services. According to a Travel Guard spokesperson, "Each hurricane season, we receive a surprising number of calls from thoughtful folks who want to buy travel insurance the moment they learn that their vacation destination is in the path of an oncoming hurricane or tropical storm." Unfortunately, he says, "by then, it's typically too late."

Travel insurance, like all types of insurance, is designed to protect against ˜unforeseen circumstances." Once a hurricane or severe storm develops, it is no longer "unforeseen." Therefore, new travel insurance cannot be purchased to offer protection at that time. Not all travel insurance policies protect against hurricanes and tropical storms, however. Research several policies and check carefully to see what is included if a hurricane or severe weather situation develops, your coverage limits, how claims are filed, and when you would be reimbursed for any resulting losses.

Travelers who buy travel insurance at the time they book their trip, prior to the issuance of hurricane or tropical storm warnings, can protect their deposits and other nonrefundable expenses in case of weather-related flight delays and cancellations. To be eligible for the coverage, travelers must purchase their travel insurance policies before the hurricane is forecasted or predicted. Once a warning has been issued, losses resulting from the hurricane are excluded.

Travelers can learn more about travel insurance and severe weather by visiting Travel Guard's section on hurricane protection: https://www.travelguard.com/whybuy/hurricanequestions.asp. The site also includes answers to frequently asked questions about hurricanes and travel insurance, hurricane preparedness tips and links to hurricane tracking and prediction websites.

Travel insurance can be purchased independently or as part of a travel or cruise package. If you're purchasing travel insurance as part of your cruise package, make sure that the insurance covers your flights and all transportation to/from your point of departure as well. If you're making all of your travel arrangements through a travel agent, your agent should be able to wrap the entire purchase into your coverage. This may not be the case if you are purchasing your airline tickets separately. In that case, you may be better off buying your travel insurance independently so that it will include your flights.

It is extremely important to understand exactly what is covered, and exactly under what circumstances, when purchasing travel insurance. Read the entire policy carefully and talk with an agent before purchasing. If you have any questions about what is covered, call the travel insurance issuer directly.

Note that travel insurance generally does not cover trip cancellations because you're worried about what might happen, don't like the weather forecast, or are concerned that your cruise itinerary might change. Travel insurance companies tend to view those cancellations as a matter of traveler choice rather than necessity. The most complete coverage is available under "Cancel for Any Reason" policies, but those are also options are significantly more expensive as well. If you would like to receive some of your money back if you elect to cancel your vacation due to a potentially impending hurricane, check out those types of policies in more detail.

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