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Travel Tip: Purchase Travel Insurance BEFORE A Hurricane Is On The Horizon

When Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Charley hurried towards Florida earlier this summer, families who had previously purchased travel insurance breathed a sigh of relief. By purchasing travel insurance, their family had a powerful defense against the financial impact of potential trip cancellations. However, it was too late for family vacationers who waited and tried to insure their travel plans after the hurricanes developed.

Obvious? Not so for many travelers, according to Travel Guard International, the nation's largest provider of travel insurance and assistance services. Says Dan McGinnity, vice president of Travel Guard. "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. "By then, it's typically too late."

Travel insurance, like all types of insurance, is designed to protect against ˜unforeseen circumstances" McGinnity adds. "Once we know a hurricane is headed for a specific area, it is no longer "unforeseen."

Travelers who purchase travel insurance at the time they book their trip, prior to the issuance of hurricane or tropical storm warnings, protect their deposits and other nonrefundable expenses. For example, if a traveler is forced to cancel a trip due to a hurricane, travel insurance will provide reimbursement for nonrefundable expenses, up to the limit of coverage purchased. To be eligible for the coverage, McGinnity explains further, 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.

Families can learn more about travel insurance and severe weather by visiting Travel Guard's StormGuard Information Center at http://www.travelguard.com/info/stormguard/index.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 Web sites.

Families who purchase vacation packages from American Airlines Vacations AAVacations.com can choose to be protected by the company's Cancellation and Change Waiver Policy. This insurance policy covers cancellations, for any reason, up until scheduled departure time. The waiver also covers revision fees. This coverage must be purchased at the initial time of booking, so carefully consider purchasing this form of protection when you are making your travel plans.

This year's hurricane season is expected to be particularly destructive and active well through November. These weather patterns can have a huge impact on travel, cancelling departures, causing evacuations, and stranding passengers. Protect your family's vacation, and plan wisely.

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