Updated totals from Allianz Travel Insurance indicate tropical storm Florence is negatively impacting the travel plans of thousands of U.S. travelers.
Officials say the firm has received 2,500 claims from travelers with storm-related policies, as of September 17. Additionally, Allianz’ customer service center has fielded more than 400 calls from customers seeking support in the storm’s wake.
Travelers who purchased Allianz travel insurance prior to the storm being named on September 6 are eligible to receive reimbursement of pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs should they need to cancel travel plans due to severe weather conditions caused by Florence, said Daniel Durazo, Allianz’ director of communications.
“Travelers impacted by Florence should contact their travel suppliers before they cancel their trip,” Durazo said. “Many travel suppliers, including airlines and hotels, are waiving change fees to allow rescheduling without penalty. Travel insurance policies purchased before September 6 may include coverage for trip cancellations, trip interruptions and travel delays caused by the upcoming storm.”
Jason Schreier, CEO at provider APRIL Travel Protection, said the firm has also received “higher than usual call volumes all week from passengers concerned about the impact of Hurricane Florence on travel plans.”
“Hurricane Florence may have a crippling impact on aviation which will spill out into gateways far beyond the storm’s path,” Added Schreier. This is in part because Charlotte, N.C. is one of the nation’s largest transportation hubs, especially for passengers who are flying aboard American Airlines.
Schreier said that according to data collected by the Federal Aviation Administration FAA in 2017, Charlotte Douglass International airport hosted more passenger traffic than the international airports in Boston, Miami, Houston, Philadelphia and New York (LaGuardia airport).
Although he says American Airlines has waived change fees for travelers traveling through Charlotte and other Southeast U.S. airports, “Even a brief closure of its Charlotte hub will have a ripple effect on delays and missed flights nationwide,” said Schreier.
“A prolonged closure in Charlotte similar to what happened in Houston last year would have a profound effect on flight routes. The impact of Iceland’s volcano on European air traffic in 2010 might be a more comparable scenario,” he said. “Savvy travelers who purchased an insurance policy prior to September 1 have additional recourse.”
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