In the wake of the tropical storm Hilary, which has transitioned from Hurricane Hilary to a post-tropical cyclone, the travel industry is grappling with a surge in disruptions. The storm caused havoc in Nevada and Southern California, forcing travelers and airlines to navigate unprecedented challenges. As the torrential rains and flooding caused by Hilary continued, hundreds of flights were canceled, leading to widespread chaos and prompting a spotlight on the importance of travel insurance, particularly when equipped with the best credit cards with travel insurance coverage.

The impact of Hilary on travel

Governor Gavin Newsom of California declared a state of emergency for much of Southern California due to the severe impact of Hilary. This tropical storm marks an event of historical significance, as it is the first to hit California since 1939. The storm’s trajectory demonstrated its relentless path through Mexico and into the Southwestern U.S.

The disruption caused by Hilary has been profound, particularly in the airline industry. Several major airlines issued weather waivers to manage the widespread disruptions, allowing travelers to reschedule their trips without incurring change fees. This flexibility was extended to various airports in Mexico, California, and Nevada affected by Hilary. The affected airports include Los Cabos International Airport (SJD), Harry Reid International Airport (LAS), and several prominent California airports like Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Diego International Airport (SAN). Airlines such as American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue all participated in offering these waivers.

Airlines had to cancel as much as a quarter of their flights on the day of the storm. Southwest Airlines reported an additional 4% of canceled flights on the subsequent day, primarily affecting flights to and from San Diego International Airport and airports in Mexico and Las Vegas.

Beyond flight cancellations, the storm also prompted the closure of several theme parks in Southern California. However, the theme parks plan to reopen, with operations contingent on weather conditions. Theme parks affected by the storm included Knott’s Berry Farm, SeaWorld San Diego, Sesame Place San Diego, San Diego Zoo, Legoland California Resort, and Disneyland.

In light of these disruptions, travelers are reminded of their entitlements when flights are canceled. Airlines typically offer full refunds to the original payment method. Travelers facing such situations are advised to promptly contact their airlines through various means, including phone, in-person service desks, social media, and live chat capabilities. It’s also prudent to have alternative travel plans in mind and to retain receipts for incurred expenses during delays or cancellations.

Why travel insurance matters

Travel insurance is crucial in such scenarios. Credit cards with travel insurance coverage, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express, offer protection against expenses resulting from trip delays or cancellations. This coverage can alleviate financial burdens caused by unforeseen disruptions.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to file a travel insurance claim if a hurricane forces you to cancel your journey.

1. Review Your Policy Documents

Before you begin the claims process, carefully review your travel insurance policy documents. Familiarize yourself with the coverage details related to trip cancellations, trip interruptions, weather-related events, and any other relevant terms and conditions. This understanding will help you determine the eligibility of your claim and what documentation you need to provide.

2. Contact Your Travel Insurance Provider

As soon as you decide to cancel your trip due to a hurricane, reach out to your travel insurance provider. Most insurance companies have a dedicated claims department to guide you through the process. Be prepared to provide your policy number, trip details, and reasons for cancellation. Many insurers have 24/7 helplines to assist you promptly.

3. Gather Documentation

Documentation is crucial when filing a travel insurance claim. Gather all the necessary documents that support your claim, such as:

Proof of travel arrangements (flight tickets, hotel reservations, tour bookings, etc.)

  • Confirmation of your travel insurance policy
  • Any communication from airlines, hotels, or tour operators regarding trip cancellations
  • Evidence of the hurricane’s impact on your travel plans (weather advisories, news articles, official statements)
  • Medical documentation (if applicable)
  • Receipts for any non-refundable expenses you incurred due to the cancellation

4. Complete the Claim Form

Your insurance provider will provide you with a claim form. Fill out the form accurately and thoroughly, providing all the required information. Be sure to include details about your trip, the reason for cancellation (the hurricane), and the expenses you claim.

5. Submit the Claim Form and Documentation

Submit the completed claim form and all supporting documentation to your insurance provider. You can typically submit claims online through the insurance company’s portal or via email. Make sure you retain copies of everything you submit for your records.

6. Keep Records of Communication

Throughout the claims process, keep records of all communication with your insurance provider. This includes emails, phone call logs, and any other interactions. These records can be invaluable if there are any discrepancies or delays in processing your claim.

7. Await the Claims Decision

After you’ve submitted your claim, your insurance provider will review the documentation and assess your eligibility for reimbursement. The timeframe for processing claims can vary, so be patient. If additional information or documentation is required, respond promptly to any requests from the insurance company.

8. Receive Reimbursement

If your claim is approved, you’ll receive reimbursement for the eligible expenses covered by your policy. This reimbursement can help offset the financial impact of the canceled trip due to the hurricane.

9. Understand Policy Limits and Deductibles

It’s important to note that travel insurance policies often have limits and deductibles. Review your policy to understand the maximum amount you can claim and any deductibles you might need to cover before the insurance kicks in.

Bottom line

As Tropical Storm Hilary continues to impact regions across the United States, the lessons learned from this event emphasize the significance of robust travel insurance and proactive planning. While the storm’s aftermath is unpredictable, the travel industry’s response underscores the importance of preparedness during natural disasters.


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Name: Carolina d’Arbelles-Valle
Email: [email protected]
Job Title: Senior Digital PR Specialist
(201) 633-2125

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