5 On Your Side

Vacation ruined by Irene? Don't expect a refund

Posted August 29, 2011
Updated August 30, 2011

So what if the vacation property you planned to rent this week was damaged in Hurricane Irene? Maybe it's surrounded by flood water, or you can't even get to it because of impassable roads. Or maybe the storm just gave you a late start hitting the road to your beach vacation.

Will you be compensated for any of it?

As Kendra Pierce found out, that usually depends on whether you have insurance.

She posted on WRAL's Facebook page: "We have paid almost $2,000 for a house in Waves. We were told we did not purchase insurance; therefore, they were not responsible for any damage. If the roads were damaged, we were responsible for getting there, and if we didn't make it, we would not get a refund."

Under the law, landlords must provide a written agreement that spells out the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved. That usually includes information about cancellation policies and travel insurance. If you are offered that insurance and choose not to buy it, the landlord does not have to refund your money – even if there is a mandatory evacuation.

Same goes if you miss out on a couple of days, are unhappy that a walkway or pool is no longer usable or just decide that you don't want to go because of damage nearby. Without rental insurance, don't expect compensation.

Many landlords are willing to work with you and either give you credit for a future stay or switch dates.

That's what happened to Tony Sumner, who was supposed to start his Topsail Island vacation last Saturday. He posted on Facebook that while he did buy rental insurance, the owner let him push back his vacation to start this Saturday.

9 Comments

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  • eboz Sep 2, 2011

    Seriously folks, it's called an "Act of God" and therefore is not the homeowner's responsibility to reimburse a renter for their vacation if they chose not to purchase rental insurance.

    Homeowners are already required to carry outrageous premiums for homeowners insurance, flood, wind, hail & extra liability insurance if they are renting - they should not have to carry extra insurance to reimburse renters for natural disasters.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 Sep 2, 2011

    What about access in November? I paid half deposit, other half due in a week or so. No on can say if hwy 12 will reopen by my vacation rental time, but I am supposed to send them another 700 bucks and wait too see if I lose the 700 bucks or not? I got the insurance, but it still may not apply. I am waiting on a responce from Hatteras Realty

  • mrsgaskill Sep 1, 2011

    "Who wouldn't buy vacation insurance for a beach vacation in NC in August????? Seriously, y'all. TOTALLY worth the $80 or whatever."

    I 100% agree with you. You are given every opportunity under the sun to purchase the insurance. Check out the NC Vacation Rental Act as well...there is a section on mandatory evacuations. If you were there while the evacuation was ordered you will receive a refund for the nights you did not occupy the home. After the fact: "The tenant shall not be entitled to a refund if: (i) prior to the tenant taking possession of the property, the tenant refused insurance offered by the landlord or real estate broker that would have compensated the tenant for losses or damages resulting from loss of use of the property due to a mandatory evacuation order" BUY THE INSURANCE AND STOP WHINING!

  • Ohprah Sep 1, 2011

    Disagree.
    A person should not have to depend on insurance for a product/service that the seller is not able to provide.

  • baracus Aug 31, 2011

    "Who wouldn't buy vacation insurance for a beach vacation in NC in August????? Seriously, y'all. TOTALLY worth the $80 or whatever."

    Agreed. While on the surface it does seem slimey to keep the rent, it seems a bit foolish to sign a lease that says the rent will not be refunded in these types of situations and then not get insurance. If you are plunking down $2000 in advance you need to read and understand the terms of the lease.

  • aquamama Aug 31, 2011

    Who wouldn't buy vacation insurance for a beach vacation in NC in August????? Seriously, y'all. TOTALLY worth the $80 or whatever.

  • CicnyKid Aug 30, 2011

    Property owners should have rent loss insurance, which covers property damage as well as any lost rental income from the damaged property. Rent loss insurance is offen included as part of a comprehensive insurance policy for landlords and may be required by the mortgage company, esp. if the major source of mortgage payments comes from rental income.

    That being said, property owner should return rent and file with their insurance the loss of rent. Guessing they figure easier to keep the money than return it to tenant and file a claim with insurance.

    When I was unable to sell the condo I lived in when moving to a house a few years ago, I rented the condo out, and my rental insurance policy included a provision that would pay me the rent in the event the property became unlivable due to damaging event.

  • Ol Forrester Aug 30, 2011

    Folks, post on Facebook, the names of rental companies that won't refund or work with you. We need to spread the word about these people. Part of your high rental fee went to pay for insurance to protect them, unless they were foolish.

  • beth20 Aug 29, 2011

    Anyone with damaged beach property that is not usable (especially in the situation the current NC outer banks is in) but still charges someone a fee to be in it this week is a lousy human being. That is simply NOT business. I'm sorry for those of you suffering losses right now. However, if you can't offer the person the same house and situation they paid for they should get a refund or at least a discount depending on the situation regardless of rental insurance.