Japanese flag painted on cracked concrete

Does travel insurance cover the recent earthquakes in Japan?

Find out how the recent earthquakes in Japan affect your cover and if you can make a claim.

April, 2016 update: Earthquakes reported in Kumamoto, Japan

Two earthquakes were reported on the 14th and 16th of April, at magnitudes of 6.5 and 7.3 respectively in the prefecture of Kumamoto, Japan . The total death toll as of December 2016 has come to 48 people, with 3 presumed missing and the Australian government's travel advisory (Smart Traveller) currently recommends that you consider the advice of local authorities.

So am I covered by travel insurance?

This will depend on a number of factors including when you bought the policy and the provider themselves. As a general rules of thumb if you buy your policy before the earthquake becomes a 'known event', then you are covered. The date where the earthquake becomes a known event is determined by each insurer.

Travel insurance provider announcements as of December 2016

ProviderDetailsEmergency assistance
 Budget Direct Travel Insurance
  • If you entered into your policy before 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016 your claim will be assessed in accordance with the product disclosure statement (PDS).
  • If you entered into a policy after 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016  you will not be covered for any claims related to the earthquake, as it was a known event, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that you were aware of the earthquake and bought travel insurance for the earthquake.
+61 2 9333 3915​
 Check-In.com.au Travel Insurance
  • If you entered into your policy before 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016 your claim will be assessed in accordance with the product disclosure statement (PDS).
  • If you entered into a policy after 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016  you will not be covered for any claims related to the earthquake, as it was a known event, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that you were aware of the earthquake and bought travel insurance for the earthquake.
​+61 2 9333 3928
 Fast Cover
  • If you entered into your policy before 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016 your claim will be assessed in accordance with the product disclosure statement (PDS).
  • If you entered into a policy after 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016  you will not be covered for any claims related to the earthquake, as it was a known event, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that you were aware of the earthquake and bought travel insurance for the earthquake.
​+61 7 3305 7499
online-travel-insurance
  • If you entered into your policy before 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016 your claim will be assessed in accordance with the product disclosure statement (PDS).
  • If you entered into a policy after 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016  you will not be covered for any claims related to the earthquake, as it was a known event, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that you were aware of the earthquake and bought travel insurance for the earthquake.
+61 7 3305 7499
 Simply Travel Insurance
  • If you entered into your policy before 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016 your claim will be assessed in accordance with the product disclosure statement (PDS).
  • If you entered into a policy after 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016  you will not be covered for any claims related to the earthquake, as it was a known event, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that you were aware of the earthquake and bought travel insurance for the earthquake.
​+61 7 3305 7499
Worldcare Travel Insurance
  • If you entered into your policy before 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016 your claim will be assessed in accordance with the product disclosure statement (PDS).
  • If you entered into a policy after 12pm (AEST) on Friday, 15 April 2016  you will not be covered for any claims related to the earthquake, as it was a known event, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that you were aware of the earthquake and bought travel insurance for the earthquake.
+61 7 3305 7499

What losses can I claim for?

  1. If you are currently travelling
    You may be able to claim expenses for additional travel arrangements, accommodation and meals, depending on the provisions of your policy.
  2. If you are yet to depart
    You may be able to claim expenses for cancellations or rearrangements of your trip, depending on the provisions of your policy.

What steps should I take next?

  • Safety first. Make sure you get to a safe place as soon as possible. If you need consular assistance, you can find the nearest Australian embassy below.
  • Minimise your expenses. If you need to book new accommodation, look for a similarly priced place. Travel insurance policies may only cover you up to the amount of the accommodation you originally purchased.
  • Get all receipts and documents necessary for claiming. You will need to show proof of payment for cancellations and new bookings.

Current travel warnings from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading

LocationLevel
Japan overallExercise normal safety precautions
Kumamoto Prefecture, KumamotoFollow advice of local authorities
Areas 1 and 2 near the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plantHigh degree of caution
Area 3 near the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plantDo not travel
Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, south-western JapanDo not travel

Japan has regular earthquake's. Will this affect my travel insurance cover?

Although Japan has regular earthquakes, most are usually below 5 on the Richter scale and cause minor to no damage.

Earthquake impact scale (Richter scale)

MagnitudeWhat does this mean?
2.5 or lessUsually not felt but is recorded
2.5 to 5.4Is usually felt and can cause minor damage
5.5 to 6.0Causes slight damage to buildings and other structures
6.1 to 6.9Can cause significant damage in populated areas such as cities
7.0 to 7.9This is considered a major earthquake with serious damage.
8.0 or greaterThis is considered a great earthquake and can completely destroy communities above the earthquake.

Aftermaths of an earthquake

There are some consequences of an earthquake that you should be aware of, even though the earthquake had ended. These include;

  • After shocks. Severe earthquakes are often followed by numerous smaller quakes, which can cause further damage to already weakened structures
  • Damaged infrastructure. Damaged roads, traffic lights, water mains, gas pipes and electricity lines all present hazards until they can be repaired
  • Tsunamis. Earthquakes can trigger tsunamis if they occur off the coast, as evidenced by the devastating tsunami which struck Japan in 2011.

Picture: Shutterstock

Maurice Thach

Maurice is a publisher for finder.com.au. Daily research of Australia's insurance offerings allows him to breakthrough the noise of the many policies out there to uncover what can (and can't) be covered. Maurice hopes to make finding the right insurance easier for all.

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