Travel insurance with natural disaster cover
If you have travel insurance that covers natural disasters, you can get your money back for delayed flights, last-minute schedule changes, cancelled trips and more.
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Important:Travel insurance rules continue to change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We’re working hard to keep up and make sure our guides are up to date, however some information may not be accurate during the pandemic. It’s even more important to double-check all details that matter to you before taking out cover. Please know that some policies may not be available through Finder at this time. Here are some helpful tips:
- If you're buying a policy today, it's unlikely that you'll be covered for border closures
- If your travel plans go against government advice, your policy will most likely be voided and you won't be covered
How do different brands on Finder cover natural disasters?
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Does travel insurance cover natural disasters?
Yes - as long as you had insurance before the natural disaster occurred. Most comprehensive policies will cover:
- Trip cancellation costs. Insurance can reimburse your costs if you have to cancel your pre-paid flights and other bookings if a natural disaster strikes your destination. It can also apply to natural disasters that strike at home before you leave (for example if you get injured or your home gets destroyed).
- Additional travel expenses. This will cover unexpected travel expenses like brand new flights and alternative accommodation if you're completely rerouted due to natural disaster.
- Travel delay expenses. This is similar to the above but applies to temporary inconveniences you suffer when your transportation is delayed. For example, if a storm delays your flight by 6 hours, your insurance can reimburse you for extras meals at the airport and even temporary accommodation if you need it.
- Alternative transport costs. If a natural disaster delays your transportation and you're due at a special event like a wedding, some policies will pay for alternative transportation to the event.
- Cutting your trip short. Some policies will pay for you to safely return to Australia Australia if a disaster disrupts your plans while you are travelling.
- Resuming your journey. Some policies will pay for you to return to your travel destination when it's safe to do so.
- Damage to your belongings. Insurance can replace your luggage, belongings, passport and other documents if they are damaged in the disaster.
- Emergency medical expenses. International policies can help pay for your medical expenses including emergency evacuation or repatriation to Australia if you are injured in a natural disaster.
In rare cases, some insurers won't cover you for natural disasters at all unless you buy a "natural disaster" add-on. So without the add-on, you wouldn't be able to make a claim if a natural disaster caused you to cancel your trip – even if you had cancellation cover.
What is considered a natural disaster?
Most insurers have a fairly similar list of events they consider to be natural disasters. These natural disasters include the following:
- Ice storms
- Volcanic eruptions
- Heat waves/cold waves
The disaster also has to create significant obstacles to your travel, such as causing your destination to be uninhabitable or triggering a state of emergency.
How to find the best travel insurance for natural disasters
Here are some tips to make sure that you're covered for a natural disaster before you set off on your trip:
- Take out a comprehensive policy. A comprehensive policy is the level that offers the widest range of protection and is likely to cover most of the events described above. However, a rare few don't and will make you purchase a natural disaster add-on instead.
- Look for a policy that offers a natural disaster add-on. Some policies exclude natural disaster cover for everything but injuries and property damage unless you buy their natural disaster add-on - but these are quite rare. But once you purchase that, you'll be covered for most of the events described above.
- Read the relevant sections of your policy documents. Most insurers will explain whether natural disasters are covered on an event-by-event basis. For example, you'll want to look in the trip cancellation section of your policy documents to see if you're covered for trip cancellation related to natural disasters. Same goes for the other sections like the cutting your trip short section and the resumption of journey section.
- Keep an eye out for the terms "events outside of your control". Some policies won't mention natural disasters in every section of your policy. However, if the wording states you're covered "due to events outside your control", you'll usually be covered for natural disasters unless it specifically states otherwise.
Recent natural disasters where travel insurance would have helped
In the past year or so, there have been a number of high profile natural disasters that have disrupted the travel plans of many Aussies. Here is a short list of some of the worst offenders:
The Bali ash cloud - Bali, Indonesia
The ground below Bali's Mount Agung had been experiencing tremors since September 2017, but the volcano took two full months to finally erupt. Since then, it has been erupting on and off, sending massive ash clouds into the sky and hindering flights in and out of the region.
Many insurers stopped covering the event at the first signs of a tremor in September 2017. Others have been pulling their cover and then reinstating it, only to pull it again after another eruption in June 2018. If you had bought travel insurance during one of the periods of stopped coverage, you would have been out of luck if you had to make a claim because of this particular disaster.
The Lombok earthquakes - Lombok, Indonesia
In yet another blow to Indonesian tourists, the resort island of Lombok was crippled with a series of earthquakes in August 2018. The most damaging was a magnitude 7 earthquake that killed more than 400 people and left thousands of tourists stranded on the island. It was not considered to be an aftershock of a smaller earthquake that had hit the week before, so you could have bought insurance up to the time the big one hit and still been covered.
However, after it became clear that the region was experiencing tremendous seismic activity, most insurers stopped covering the region for earthquakes altogether. Anyone who had purchased their policy before the big earthquake was fine going forward, but anyone who waited until after that was out of luck regardless of whether any future earthquakes were considered aftershocks or not.
California Wildfires - California, USA
Wildfires have been sweeping across California since 23 July 2018 and have not stopped as of September 2018. Authorities say they were caused by arson, meaning there wouldn't have been much lead time to consider them a known event. In this case, it would have become a known event the moment local news stations began reporting on the first fire.
Japan flooding and mudslides - Southwestern Japan
Areas of Southwestern Japan received three times the normal amount of rain for all of July in just the first week of July 2018. It caused massive flooding and mudslides and forced millions of people to flee their homes. To have been covered, you would have needed to buy your insurance policy before the first reports of possible flooding came out.
Does travel insurance cover weather delays?
Yes, and it works similarly to the situations described above, with all of the same requirements. If your flight is delayed or your cruise ship is stuck in port because of bad weather, you're eligible to claim for any activity you need to cancel as listed under "cancellation" above, plus food and accommodation charges while you wait (depending on how long the delay is).
What else does travel insurance for natural disasters cover?
Travel insurance doesn’t just stop at paying you back for general travel expenses related to natural disasters. It can also cover you if you are injured in a natural disaster as long as your policy includes medical cover. Depending on your level of cover, this can include the following:
- Medical treatment
- Dental treatment
- A daily allowance for everyday hospital expenses
- Medical evacuation to the nearest hospital
- Repatriation to Australia if necessary
What isn't covered by travel insurance for natural disasters?
All insurance policies will contain a list of situations where you would not be covered (called exclusions). Here are some common reasons you wouldn't be covered:
- You take out the policy too late. You have to buy the policy before the disaster becomes public knowledge. This can even be before the disaster strikes. For example, experts know in advance when a cyclone is likely to hit. If you buy your policy after they name the storm, it's already too late and you won't be covered.
- Your expenses are unreasonable. When you are covered for expenses as a result of a delay or for alternate travel arrangements, you will only be covered for a reasonable amount. They won't cover you for a last-minute stay in a 5-star penthouse suite.
- Bad weather. Your destination will need to be uninhabitable for claims to be paid. Bad weather is not enough for an insurer to pay out.
- Ignoring travel warnings. If you disregard governmental travel warnings and travel to a destination that has recently been devastated by a natural disaster, you run the risk of having your claims denied due to acting recklessly.
- You waited too long to cancel certain arrangements. You may be denied if you were charged any cancellation fees that you could have avoided by telling the travel provider as soon as you knew you had to cancel.
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