The Lombok earthquake could affect your travel insurance
If you're travelling to Lombok or even Bali, Sunday's earthquake may affect your insurance.
If you are planning on travelling to Bali, Lombok or any other nearby islands in the near future, you should be aware that Sunday's 6.9 magnitude earthquake is now a "known event" for insurance purposes.
That means if you had already taken out travel insurance before the quake, you will be covered for claims related to it. However, most insurers won't cover you for claims related to Sunday's earthquake if you took out the policy after the earthquake became a known event (which in this case was the moment it struck ).
A known event is one that any reasonable person should have known about in advance due to the magnitude of it and/or widespread media attention given to it.
Travel Safety Expert Phil Sylvester of Travel Insurance Direct said buying a travel insurance policy after a known event is akin to buying car insurance after a crash.
"The moment to buy travel insurance is the moment you put money down to pay for your trip. That way you know you're covered. If you wait too long and an event like Sunday's earthquake happens, any policy you buy after that won't cover you for anything related to that event," Sylvester told finder.com.au.
He said earthquakes can be especially tricky since an earthquake's aftershocks are all part of the same known event – but not every rumble in the days after an earthquake is necessarily an aftershock. Some follow-up rumbles can be considered brand new events, entirely worthy of coverage.
Case in point: Lombok experienced a 5.2 magnitude earthquake exactly a week before this most recent one, and it took Travel Insurance Direct some time to determine that this Sunday's earthquake was not related to the one from last Sunday and that this Sunday's earthquake could be considered a new event.
That means even if you bought your policy after last Sunday's 5.2 magnitude earthquake, you'd still be covered for this most recent one and all aftershocks related to it.
"It takes some time to arrive at conclusions like this because we need to consider what resources like the U.S. Geological Survey are reporting and what geologists are saying. So while we do our best to get information out to travellers in a timely manner, we're not always able to make an immediate statement about what is or isn't a known event," Sylvester said.
That means it is up to you to keep tabs on what is happening in the areas you will be travelling and to make sure you secure your cover sooner rather than later. If you do find that you won't be covered for a particular known event, that doesn't mean your cover is worthless because you'll still be able to claim for unrelated situations.
We checked more than a dozen Australian travel insurance brands' websites to see if any explicitly said future earthquakes are not covered. The below brands have stated that from the dates listed, no policies will cover travel plans affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks.
Others released statements informing travellers on what to do in case they are already booked to travel, but have not stated whether future policies are affected. If you're booked to travel to Bali or Lombok, it's best to check directly with your provider before you depart.
Which brands are no longer covering the Lombok earthquake?
|Provider||Update||How am I affected?|
|Cover-More (AU)||5 August||No coverage for earthquake-related claims in Lombok, Indonesia, if you purchased your policy after this date.|
|Fast Cover (Allianz)||5 August (9:45pm)||If you purchased your Fast Cover policy after this time and date and it was underwritten by Allianz, you are not covered for any losses connected to the Lombok earthquake. Fast Cover (Allianz) will not pay any related claims.|
|Fast Cover (Hollard)||5 August (9:45pm)||If you have coverage from Fast Cover and it was underwritten by Hollard, there is no cover for the following benefits unless your travel has been directly affected by the earthquake: Benefit 5 - Trip Cancellation Expenses, Benefit 6 - Trip Disruption Expenses, Benefit 16 - Travel Delay Expenses and Benefit 17 - Alternative Transport Expenses.|
If you purchased your Fast Cover policy after this time and date and it was underwritten by Hollard, your policy does not cover earthquake-related claims for trips to Lombok.
|Southern Cross Travel Insurance||6 August (9am)||If you purchased your policy after this time and date, there is no longer coverage for earthquake related claims in Lombok, Indonesia.|
If you purchased your policy before this time and date, you're still covered. Southern Cross issued the following statement: "If your travel plans have been affected by this event, you can submit a claim for either the cost of any additional payments to alter your travel plans or for the loss of your pre-paid travel plans, such as flights, accommodation and tours."
|Woolworths Travel Insurance||5 August (9:45pm)||If you have coverage from Woolworths Travel Insurance and purchased your policy before this time and date, you're covered for the following benefits: Section 1: Overseas emergency medical assistance (all policy types), Section 2: Overseas emergency medical and hospital expenses (all policy types) and Section 4: Additional expenses (Comprehensive and Annual Multi-Trip policies only) but only if directly affected by the earthquake. There is no cover for trip cancellation under any policy type.|
If you purchased your cover after this time and date, there is no cover for any claims arising from earthquakes in Lombok.
The earthquake killed more than 100 people and the scene in Lombok and the nearby Gili Islands is chaotic, with rioting, looting and fighting erupting in the face of food and water shortages and a relief effort that is being hindered by crippled infrastructure.
No Australians are reported to be missing or killed, but thousands of tourists from Australia and elsewhere are currently awaiting evacuation.
Flights are still operating as normal, in and out of both Lombok and Bali, but the Australian government has temporarily recommended that Australians reconsider their need to travel to Lombok and the Gili Islands on the Smartraveller website. If you're still planning to travel to Bali, Lombok or any of the surrounding islands, you should monitor the situation closely and exercise caution, as strong aftershocks are still rattling the area.
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