Insurers refusing to pay vacation claims for the OBX power outage are wrong

Outer Banks vacationers who purchased travel insurance may have been surprised to discover that not every possible reason for mandatory evacuations is covered. In this case, a man-made event – a severed power line – was the trigger for the late July evacuation and many policies did not cover it. The likely result? A lot more headaches and stress for vacationers who were just hoping to recoup some of their financial losses since the most precious commodity, time, cannot be recovered.

Our policies, like the rest of the industry, would not have covered this mandatory evacuation. As a company, we’ve dealt with numerous mandatory evacuations over the course of our more than 20 years serving travelers – but they have all been due to natural disasters. In fact, we’ve never encountered a mandatory evacuation as a result of a man-made event. So it’s not surprising that common policy language throughout the industry did not reflect coverage of an event like this.

What is surprising is that many in the industry are using this as a reason to not pay claims. While it is well within their legal right to do so, we see this as merely taking advantage of a loophole. Once it became clear that the situation in the Outer Banks was not going to be quickly resolved, we made a decision as a company to step up and pay out claims for any of our CSA Travel Protection vacation rental policy holders affected by this event.

We could have followed suit with the industry and legally denied coverage, so why did we decide to shell out significant amounts of money on claims that we aren’t required to pay?

The answer is incredibly simple: because it’s the right thing to do. If our company motto is going to be “you live, we care,” we figured we had better live up to it. We care about the families that bought our vacation rental insurance, we care about our partners that those policies were sold through, and we care about our local partners who own and manage those vacation homes.

Any of our policy holders who have not been able to recoup compensation from their vacation rental companies or property owners are encouraged to file a claim by visiting our website, or calling the dedicated hotline (800-816-9454) that we created when the event happened.

Our hope is that this brings some relief to our customers who were adversely affected by this event. Of course, this won’t bring back their lost vacation and we can’t make the memories they missed out on this time around, but by lessening the financial burdens associated with the missed trip, we can help them get back to making those memories a lot sooner.

Chris Carnicelli is the CEO of Generali Global Assistance, North America, a subsidiary of Generali Group.

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