5 On Your Side

Vacation ruined by Irene? Don't expect a refund

Posted August 29, 2011 4:23 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2011 5:52 a.m. EDT

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.