As November approaches, Caribbean islands start to breathe a little easier. After all, the 30th marks the end of hurricane season.
This year, hurricanes Ian and Fiona in particular caused destruction and death across various islands. And Guadeloupe received its share of damage, triggering mudslides and storm surges that inundated parts of the country.
I spent four days there at the beginning of November. While not officially in high season yet, a healthy number of travelers frequented the beaches, restaurants and attractions. Hurricane season seemed to be over.
Wrong. As a native Floridian who knows what a drop or rise in storm millibars indicates, I should have known better.
What started as a system producing disorganized showers in the Caribbean turned to subtropical storm Nicole two days after my arrival. Two days later, the storm forced the cancellation of my connecting flight from Guadeloupe to Florida.
My thoughts turned to travel insurance -- I should have gotten it. The thing is, once a storm receives a name, it's too late to get it.
Covid and the flu run rampant in the news. Tropical storm formations, not so much, but it's an important consideration, especially when you're on overseas travel and a mere day makes a difference in a storm's intensity and trajectory.
"The trifecta of increased travel demand, harsh weather conditions and airborne viruses raises the probability that travelers will face flight cancellations, trip disruptions, baggage loss, and even medical issues," said Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO and founder of travel insurance company VisitorsCoverage. "Fortunately, trip insurance is designed to mitigate the financial fallout of these situations."
In the past six months of 2022, about a third of VisitorsCoverage's travel insurance sales have been by travel advisors.
"The pandemic changed the way people viewed travel insurance," Shrivastava said. "As flights were grounded and borders were closed during the pandemic, travelers saw firsthand the benefits of travel insurance. Consequently, when travelers face an increased medical risk like a Covid or flu outbreak in their destination country, or a higher risk of inclement weather, we see an uptick in travel insurance interest."
In 2020, consumers spent $1.72 billion on travel protection, according to a study by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, covering 36 million people with more than 24.1 million plans.
But I wasn't one of those who purchased travel insurance, and as of this writing, I had to spend up to three days in my connecting city before heading home. So much for breathing a sigh of relief.