By Russ Lay | Outer Banks Voice on August 4, 2017
One of the big questions surrounding the weeklong power outage on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands is whether anything can be salvaged from the lost vacations.
Some people were fortunate enough to find other accommodations. But whether you can recover the money you had already invested in unused rental houses depends on a number of factors.
No two rental management companies or insurance policies are exactly alike.
Rental insurance is mainly designed to cover illness, death of a traveler or family member, job loss or weather-related travel delays.
Most policies cover broad categories, including mandatory evacuations for hurricanes, but they do not touch on every possible contingency, such as a power outage.
Laird Sager of locally based Red Sky Travel Insurance said he is not aware of any policy issuer who will cover losses based on a mandatory evacuation that was triggered by a manmade event. A construction accident caused the power outage.
Sager mentioned the BP Horizon incident in the Gulf in 2010 and noted that to his knowledge, no travel insurance companies paid for the many vacations that were canceled as a result of the oil spill along the Gulf beaches.
Red Sky does have a provision in their policy that allows a claim to be made in the case of a road closure.
“Red Sky is looking at each individual claim, and we are paying claims if the road closure provision is applicable,” he said.
In a statement Thursday, CSA Travel Protection, which issues policies through several local rental agencies, encouraged policy holders to file a claim on its website, csaclaims.com, or by calling its hotline 800-816-9454.
The company called the outage a “man-made event of unprecedented scope and duration” and said “we are covering this event due to the mandatory evacuation.” A company spokesman said the company does not cover mandatory evacuations for any reason but will in this case.
Midgett Realty on Hatteras Island has posted an information sheet on its website. It says that coverage is based on a renter’s state of residency and offers details on what to do next.
The Voice reviewed policies offered under the Travel Guard brand by two Hatteras-based rental companies, and the coverage offered will pay only if a named hurricane occurs that was “not foreseeable” at the time the rental was booked.
There were also provisions for inclement weather affecting travel, such as flight cancellations, or a rental home rendered uninhabitable due to natural weather occurrences, vandalism or fire.
There were no specific provisions for any other reason, including road closures or mandatory evacuations.
Owners were given deposits back in the spring, so that money is out of the rental company’s hands and refunds are up to individual owners.
Rental companies typically require half payment at booking and the balance two weeks before arrival.