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WITH a heavier-than-average hurricane season expected this year, it's worth checking out your resort's storm guarantee or possibly buying insurance before you book a trip to the Caribbean.
Severe weather typically is covered by the trip interruption and cancellation provisions of travel insurance policies. Check the fine print; you may be able to recover trip deposits and other costs.
For several years, some all-inclusive Caribbean resort chains have offered to rebook guests or give them free stays if a storm interrupts their trip. Here are examples:
Sandals and Beaches resorts say they will offer a free replacement vacation if hurricane-force winds directly hit the hotel.
You must rebook within a year of your original stay; your airfare is not included.
SuperClubs says it will reimburse you for the value of the disrupted nights if a hurricane hits your resort. You'll also get a voucher for a future stay equal to the number of disrupted nights. To use the voucher, you must rebook for the same month in the next year.
If you're trapped at the resort beyond your scheduled departure date, your added nights are free.
If a hurricane keeps you from arriving at the resort, SuperClubs will usually allow you to rebook for free a week or two later, says Romina Parisi, reservations team leader in Hollywood, Fla. But if want to book a future date, you may have to pay any difference in cost between your original vacation and your new one.
Even Caribbean hotels that don't have formal guarantees may make concessions, such as free or reduced room rates, to storm-affected guests. And those with formal policies may go beyond them.
In July, for instance, some Sandals and Beaches resort guests in Jamaica received three-night vouchers even though Hurricane Dennis only sideswiped Jamaica.
Some Internet travel sellers may also help you out.
Under its "Hassle-Free Hurricane Promise," Expedia.com says it will waive its change fees if your trip is affected by a hurricane watch or warning issued by the National Hurricane Center.
You may still, however, owe such fees directly to an airline or the resort that you booked through Expedia, says Kari Swartz, product manager for leisure travel.
An alert for Americans in Britain
NEARLY a month after terrorist bombings killed more than 50 on London public transit and 12 days after failed bombings there, the U.S. State Department issued a public announcement to "alert Americans to ongoing security concerns in the United Kingdom."
It advised visitors to Britain to "maintain a high level of vigilance" and "exercise caution in public places or while using public transportation."
Also this month, the State Department reissued its long-standing "Worldwide Caution," citing "continued threat of terrorist attacks" in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Airline offers bag pickup
SINGAPORE Airlines on Monday is to begin offering a service in Los Angeles that picks up customers' luggage at their homes or offices, eliminating airport baggage check-in.
The service, offered through BaggageDirect, applies only to outbound travel from LAX. Initially free, it will cost $30 per passenger (plus $15 for each accompanying passenger) beginning Nov. 15.
Compiled by Jane Engle