We regard the risk posed by hurricanes as a simple cost of doing business. If a hurricane -- or threat of a hurricane -- prevents you from traveling to your beach house, or otherwise interferes with your vacation, you are entitled to a 100% refund from BHIP, no questions asked.
Our policy is liberal, generous and easy to understand: If the NOAA National Hurricane Center says that your beach house is inside the "5 Day Zone of Uncertainty" -- e.g., "inside the white" -- for a Hurricane (code "H") or Major Hurricane (code "M"), and your vacation plans call for you to be at the beach house during any of these days, you may elect to cancel your stay and receive a full refund.
In other words, if the threat of a hurricane interferes with your vacation plans such that you cannot enjoy the vacation home, or you must leave the vacation home prematurely, you receive a full refund for any days where the home will not be used by you (including the entire duration of your trip, should you be forced to cancel in advance of your arrival).
But what if you're already staying at the beach house when a hurricane first threatens the area? Or what if a hurricane affects you in other ways not described above? You're still protected by our 100% hurricane refund policy:
Missed Flights and/or Delayed Arrivals: When a hurricane threatens, havoc sometimes results at local airports as flights are delayed and/or cancelled, and airports may temporarily close. If hurricane conditions cause you to miss a flight, and/or otherwise arrive one or more days late to your vacation home, you will receive a full refund for any such days that you were late in arriving to your vacation home.
Evacuation Orders: When a hurricane threatens, our area of ocean-to-river beach homes is often among the very first areas to receive mandatory evacuation orders. In the event that the National Weather Service issues a mandatory evacuation order for our area, you will receive a full refund of any days for which you are unable to use the property resulting from the evacuation order.
Post-Hurricane Damage: If the vacation home you have rented is damaged by a hurricane and is temporarily uninhabitable while repairs are performed, you will receive a full refund of any days that you are unable to use the property owing to the uninhabitable condition.
Anecdote: Hurricanes threaten our area perhaps once every five years, and veer close enough to our properties to cause actual damage perhaps once every 15 to 20 years.
In early October 2017, we experienced our "once every 15 or 20 years" event. (2004 was the previous event). Hurricane Matthew threatened SE Florida, and Beach Houses in Paradise, in a very rare "late season" hurricane. (Most hurricanes occur in August & September). Matthew didn't hit us directly, staying several miles offshore, but it was a close call. As the nail-biting days unfolded -- "Will it hit us?" . . . "Will Matthew veer off course in another direction?" . . . "What shall we advise our guests?" -- Here's what we did:
Approximately 7 days before we calculated that the hurricane might be on course to strike BHIP properties, we contacted all guests who had reservations over the upcoming three weeks. We alerted our guests of the unfolding events, and that if things continued along their projected path, we'd be in touch within a few days to let them know that we plan to batten down the houses, and would waive the usual cancellation policies and refund the entirety of their reservations immediately.
A few days later, we did just that. All the guests we contacted took advantage of the offer. But one group -- a family with children -- was in a tight spot. They were already in one of our homes, for a multi-week stay. Because so many hurricanes prove to be "false alarms", they decided they would stay in the home until it was certain whether Matthew would be proven as either a pussycat . . . or a lion. A few more days passed, and Matthew's roar was growing ... he would be a lion. As the family already had specific flight dates for their return home a week later, and airport closings and flight disruptions would prevent them from being able to rebook their planned departure flights, we reviewed various scenarios with the family, considered the possible travel paths of the hurricane, and mutually decided that the best plan was for the family to drive across the state (a 3-hour drive) to finish out the last week of their stay with "Beach Houses in Paradise" . . . at the 5-Star Ritz Carlton Resort in Sarasota FL, all at BHIP's expense.