Paying for Hurricane-Proof Travel
Booking sites, resorts and other travel companies often pitch protection plans this time of year as a way to overcome consumers' worries about a tropical storm derailing their vacation and leaving them on the hook for the costs. It's something consumers are seeing more often, as economic uncertainty and more active storm seasons make travelers wary, says Gabe Saglie, senior editor for deal site Travelzoo. "Weather uncertainty creates a lot of deals," he says, but travel to the Caribbean and Mexico "at this particular time of year always raises the insurance issue."
Travel companies' free protection plans are better than nothing, but travelers should look into the details. "Sometimes these free guarantees aren't worth a whole lot," says Stewart Chiron, an industry expert known as The Cruise Guy. Most offer credit for future travel, rather than a refund. That amount may also be limited to only those vacation days affected by a storm, potentially leaving travelers who cancel or head home early stuck with a bill for the nice days they missed out on. CheapCaribbean.com caps its "Sunshine Guarantee" credit for rain at $100 per trip. (The site did not respond to requests for comment.)
In fact, some free protections promise little more than travelers are already entitled to.
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