Do you actually need travel insurance for hurricanes?
That’s a good question!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been recommending travel insurance for anyone who plans to travel to Savannah or the beautiful Georgia Coast during the months of August through October.
That’s because peak hurricane season in Savannah occurs during that timeframe, which means there’s a chance your vacation might be interrupted — or even cancelled altogether — due to seasonal storm activity.
A travel insurance policy is the best way to recoup your losses if that happens.
Note: This guide contains affiliate links to my trusted travel partners.
Hurricane Season in Savannah
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 – November 30, but the heaviest activity usually occurs from late August through mid October.
Here are a few of the most damaging hurricanes to hit Savannah in recent years:
- October 2016: Hurricane Matthew caused widespread devastation in Savannah and the surrounding Lowcountry. Chatham County (Savannah) was under mandatory evacuation orders, curfews were enforced, and Savannah residents weren’t allowed to return to the city for days.
- September 2017: Hurricane Irma caused flooding and damage to homes and trees. Chatham County was under mandatory evacuation orders, and curfews were put in place.
- October 2018: Hurricane Michael put Savannah under a State of Emergency, and the Talmadge Bridge was closed to traffic.
- September 2019: Hurricane Dorian largely spared Savannah. Still, since the hurricane’s path was rather unpredictable, Chatham County was placed under a State of Emergency, a mandatory evacuation was ordered, and a curfew was established for two nights.
What Happens When a Hurricane Hits?
If you’ve never traveled to a hurricane-prone area, you might not realize what a big deal it is to have a CAT 3, CAT 4, or CAT 5 storm in the forecast.
It’s a BIG deal — and the higher the category, the bigger the scare.
If any storm rated a Category 3 or higher is scheduled to impact the Savannah area, emergency management teams typically issue evacuation orders.
Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) is the local government entity that manages evacuations.
You can register to receive emergency alerts from them via the CEMA website.
If you want to keep up with local weather alerts, you can get non-sensationalized hurricane info via Enki Research on Facebook. You can also check the local news stations: WTOC, WJCL, and WSAV.
Hurricanes can cause extensive damage and are somewhat unpredictable, so evacuations are usually ordered a few days ahead of a storm.
That advance warning will give you time to pack up your belongings, find alternate accommodations, and get on the road.
Evacuation orders are based on multiple components, but the strength of the hurricane is usually the biggest deciding factor.
A Few Things to Consider…
It’s quite common for hurricanes to hit Florida and then move up the East Coast toward Savannah. That means Floridians are often forced to evacuate before Savannahians.
Since I-95 is one of the main routes of out Florida, that means tens of thousands of people escaping Florida will head towards Savannah.
If you’ll be on the road during an evacuation, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Expect major driving delays
- Anticipate gas stations running out of fuel
- Expect interstate exits for evacuated areas to be blocked by police vehicles
- Hotels on the outskirts of the evacuation zone might not have vacancies
- Be aware that cell phone towers could become overwhelmed and cell phones might not work
When Floridians and Georgians are all trying to escape a major storm, the Department of Transportation usually switches ALL lanes of the interstate to northbound lanes.
Even with all lanes heading north, the traffic is still as slow as molasses.
For example: It normally takes me 2 1/2 hours to get from Savannah to Columbia, but it can take 6 hours during an evacuation.
Things to Consider if You Hunker Down…
Some people evacuate during hurricanes, while others choose to stay in place. This is commonly called “hunkering down.”
If you’re staying in a hotel and an evacuation is ordered, you probably won’t have that option. Hotel staff will close the hotel, and you will be required to leave.
If you’re staying in a home, you might have the option to stay. However, that’s not something I recommend during a mandatory evacuation. Let me tell you why…
During –or shortly after– a hurricane, these are some issues that might arise:
- Power outages might occur that could last for several hours — or several days
- Street flooding is almost guaranteed during large storms in Savannah
- Emergency services sometimes operate on skeleton crews during hurricanes
- There is some added potential for crime problems
Think about this, for example: What if you hunkered down during a hurricane and your appendix burst or you had a heart attack?
An ambulance might not be able to reach you quickly due to flooded streets or there might not be enough medical personnel at the hospital to properly care for you.
These are factors to consider and reasons why it’s best to heed evacuation warnings and head to safer ground.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
If you’re planning a trip to Savannah — or anywhere in the Southeast — during hurricane season, then the answer is yes.
However, you might not need to buy a separate policy.
Some credit card companies offer built-in insurance when you purchase your flight and/or hotel using their card. This is the easiest way to obtain coverage, and it’s the method I’ve been relying on for recent travels. I suggest checking your credit card company’s website to see if travel coverage is one of the listed perks.
If it is, read through the fine print of the policy to see what’s covered.
If natural disasters aren’t covered and you’re traveling during hurricane season, it’s better to purchase to travel insurance for hurricanes than to skip it.
What Should Travel Insurance Include?
Since not all travel insurance companies offer the same coverage, here are a few things to look for when you’re considering a travel insurance policy:
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption
- Emergency medical coverage
- Evacuation needs
- Lost baggage
- Stolen or damaged items
- Medical transportation
These days, it’s also good to look for a policy that covers COVID-19 medical costs.
I suggest searching for travel insurance via Visitors Coverage. Their policies cover hurricanes, and you can also select coverage for flight cancellations and missed flights. They also offer Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policies, which are great when you need flexibility in your travels.
Final Thoughts on Travel Insurance for Hurricanes
I hope this has been a helpful guide to the basics of travel insurance for hurricanes! The reassurance a policy provides is well worth it in my opinion.
The information I’ve provided above has been a summary only, so it does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, and termination provisions of any particular travel insurance policy. Those items will vary based on the individual policy you select.
Coverage may not be available for all countries, states, or provinces. Please review your policy’s wording for a full description of coverage.
Visiting Savannah Georgia
If you’re planning to a trip to Savannah, Georgia, here are a few additional resources I’ve created to help you out:
- Free Resources Library – When you sign up for my email list, you’ll get a checklist of “50 Things To Do On-Foot in the Historic District (No Car Necessary)” and other helpful printables.
- Savannah First-Timer’s Guide – My ebook combines my most helpful Savannah travel tips from this website in one handy downloadable guide.
When you purchase my ebook, you also get access to a private Facebook group where you can ask questions about your trip, get advice, and see photos from others who have recently visited.