Can I cancel a vacation rental booking amid Tropical Depression Beryl? What to know

Can I cancel a vacation rental booking amid Tropical Depression Beryl? What to know


Tropical Depression Beryl has snarled plenty of travel plans this week, with thousands of flights canceled and cruise lines rerouting itineraries. And if you have a vacation rental booked, you may be thinking twice about your trip.

The storm was forecasted to move northeast after bringing severe weather to Texas on Monday. Millions of homes and businesses in the Lone Star State were without power Tuesday. The storm – which was the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record, weakening to a tropical storm after making landfall in Texas as a Category 1 hurricane – also caused flooding and trapped people in cars. At least eight people died in Texas and Louisiana.

Here’s what travelers should know.

What options do vacation rental guests have amid Tropical Depression Beryl?

Travelers with vacation rental bookings have options in the face of severe weather.

Major platform Vrbo recently added a new Extenuating Circumstances policy that requires hosts to give refunds no matter the property’s cancellation rules amid “unforeseen large-scale travel disruptions,” the company said in a statement. 

On Airbnb, for its part, cancellations are typically subject to the listing’s policy, but big events that “prevent or legally prohibit completion of a reservation” may fall under a separate Major Disruptive Events Policy. The platform did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s questions about specific impacts or policy changes related to Beryl.

What is Vrbo’s cancellation policy?

The new Extenuating Circumstances policy doesn’t explicitly cover hurricanes during hurricane season, but would apply to ripple effects like broad power outages. The platform will also refund service fees to travelers in those cases.

If an event is not covered, however, the listing’s regular policy would apply. “We always encourage hosts to do what they can to work with guests in these cases, and Vrbo has waived host penalties for cancellations in the case of Hurricane/Tropical Depression Beryl, which allows hosts to refund their guests without worry it will affect things like how high they appear in future guests’ searches,” Vrbo said in an emailed statement.

What is Airbnb’s cancellation policy?

When an event falls under Airbnb’s Major Disruptive Events Policy “guests can cancel their reservation and receive a refund, travel credit, and/or other consideration regardless of the reservation’s cancellation policy, and Hosts can cancel without fees or other adverse consequences, although their listing’s calendar will be blocked for the dates of the canceled reservation,” the company said on its website.

The policy covers natural disasters and severe weather – among other events – but there is some fine print. Weather or other conditions deemed “common enough to be foreseeable” in a certain place are only eligible if they result in another covered event, like an order to evacuate. Guests can contact Airbnb to see if their reservation qualifies.

Does insurance cover vacation rental bookings?

Travel insurance can come in handy.

Some comprehensive plans have cancellation coverage if there is a hurricane warning in the policy holder’s destination, typically within 24 to 36 hours before departure, according to Meghan Walch, Director of Product at InsureMyTrip. Cancel for Any Reason options can also allow travelers to cancel up to two days ahead of a trip if they aren’t comfortable going.

“This is a time-sensitive benefit on some plans, meaning that you have to be purchasing your insurance within 10-21 days after making your initial payment/deposit for your trip, and you must insure all prepaid non-refundable trip expenses,” she said in an email. That kind of reimbursement would amount to between 50% and 75% of the insured trip cost.

Comprehensive policies also generally have some coverage “for cancellation due to flight delays of a certain number of hours or destruction of your primary home/destination accommodations by a named storm,” Walch added.

Airbnb vs. Vrbo: Which vacation rental platform is right for you?

“It’s important to purchase your travel insurance policy early before the storm is known,” she said. “Once a storm is named, coverage can’t be purchased for concerns related to that storm.”

Those plans also offer some coverage for lost or damaged luggage and other personal items up to their stated limits. Travelers bringing expensive items with them may want to consider insuring them under homeowners or renters policies which can have “more adequate” coverage limits.

Vacation rental sites may also offer insurance, but Walch warned that those do not typically cover the full cost of a trip, such as flights booked independently.

“When it comes to travel protection offered through a vacation rental site, it’s important to read through the policy and know exactly what is and is not covered,” she added.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at

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