Are you heading overseas to a country with volatile weather conditions? Find travel insurance with natural disaster cover
Your flights are booked, your bags are packed and you’re ready to depart on your dream holiday.
The night before you’re meant to leave, you’re sitting on the couch watching the news when a bulletin ticks across the bottom of your TV:
A volcano erupting in the Pacific Region is affecting air travel in the area, causing mass delays and cancellations.
While you’re concerned for the safety of all those involved, it doesn’t take long before you think, “What does this mean for my travel plans?”
This guide looks at the importance of having travel insurance in place for when the unexpected happens such as a volcanic eruption or other natural disaster.
Mount Agung travel insurance updates
Mount Agung Update
22 November 2017 update: The Mount Agung volcano has begun erupting, and cover restrictions regarding the elevated threat posed by the eruption are starting to trickle in. This table will be updated once advice on cover is posted to a travel insurance brand's website. All times in the table are in AEST. Please check with individual brands to see if they are offering cover before buying a policy.
Information last verified at 4pm 27 November 2017.
|Brand||Covered for Mount Agung||Not covered|
Policies issued before 22 September 2017.
Policies issued after 22 September 2017.
Policies issued from 21 June to 21 September 2017.
Policies issued after 21 September 2017.
Policies issued before 2pm Monday 18 September 2017.
Policies issued after 2pm Monday 18 September 2017.
|1Cover||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|DU insure||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|Easy Travel Insurance||Policies issued before 2pm Thursday 21 September 2017.||Policies purchased after 2pm Thursday 21 September 2017.|
|Fast Cover||Policies issued before 4pm 20 September 2017.||Policies issued after 4pm 20 September 2017.|
|Go Insurance||Single-trip policies and trips booked under Annual Multi Trip before 12pm on 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12:01 pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|Insure4Less||Policies issued before 2pm Monday 18 September 2017.||Policies issued after 2pm Monday 18 September 2017.|
|iTrek||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|NoWorries||Policies issued before 16 September 2017.||Policies issued after 16 September 2017.|
|Online Travel Insurance||Policies issued before 7am Tuesday 19 September 2017.||Policies issued after 7am Tuesday 19 September 2017.|
|Simply Travel Insurance||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|Ski-insurance.com.au||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|Southern Cross||Policies issued before 10am Friday 22 September 2017.||Policies issued after 10am Friday 22 September 2017.|
|Travel Insurance Saver||Policies issued before 2pm Thursday 21 September 2017.||Policies issued after 2pm Thursday 21 September 2017.|
|Travel Insurance Direct||Policies issued before 8.05 pm Tuesday 21 November 2017.||Policies issued after 8.05 pm Tuesday 21 November 2017.|
|Travel Insuranz||Policies issued before 2pm Monday 18 September 2017.||Policies issued after 2pm Monday 18 September 2017.|
|Woolworths||Policies issued before 4pm Wednesday 20 September 2017.||Policies issued after 4pm Wednesday 20 September 2017.|
|Worldcare||Policies issued before 7am Tuesday 19 September 2017.||Policies issued after 7am Tuesday 19 September 2017.|
|Kango Cover||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|Under 30s Travel Insurance||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
|Zoom Travel Insurance||Policies issued between 9am on 6th November 2017 and midday 22 November 2017.||Policies issued after 12pm on Wednesday 22 November 2017.|
When are natural disasters covered?
Unexpected events can wreak havoc on your travel plans, as many travellers to Bali found during 2015, thanks to the volcanic ash cloud. This is why it's important to have travel insurance with natural disaster cover in place once you've booked your trip. Below is a table of the brands in our panel that offer travel insurance for natural disasters.
|Brand||Travel insurance that covers natural disasters||Apply|
Coverage of covered natural disasters and extreme weather events differs between insurance brand, but they generally include cover for:
- Volcanic eruption
Read your product disclosure statement (PDS) to make sure you’re fully aware of the natural disasters your insurer will cover.
It’s worth pointing out that you should take out a travel insurance policy when you book your trip, as you won’t be able to receive any cover if a natural disaster has already occurred when you purchase a policy.
Most insurance providers will provide cover in the following situations:
- Trip cancellation. If a natural disaster forces you to cancel your trip before departure, you’ll be covered for any non-refundable bookings and deposits. Cover is also available for the costs you incur if you decide to reschedule your trip.
- Trip interruption. If a natural disaster forces you to return home early from your trip, you’ll be covered for the cost of the additional travel expenses you incur and any cancellation fees and non-refundable deposits.
- Travel delay. Cover is available if your pre-booked transport is delayed by more than a certain amount of time, for example 6 or 12 continuous hours. This includes cover for additional accommodation and meals.
- Missed connection. If a natural disaster causes you to incur travel costs to catch up to your tour or cruise, those expenses will be covered by your insurer.
- Non-medical emergency evacuation. If local authorities issue a formal recommendation for travellers to leave a country following a natural disaster, the cost of your evacuation will be covered.
- Medical expenses. The cover for overseas medical and hospital expenses included in every travel insurance policy will also offer protection if you suffer an illness or injury or die as the result of a natural disaster.
Cover for cancellation because of severe weather conditions
Nat and Leezel Liggins were on a tour around the Mediterranean. Their next port of call was to be Turkey, where they planned to go to a Süper Lig football match because the name of the competition was comically similar to their own last name.
However, before they were able to leave Greece there was a severe weather warning that forced the cancellation of their boat. This not only meant they lost would miss the game but also a connecting flight from Turkey to Malta the next afternoon.
Luckily the two had taken out comprehensive travel insurance, which meant that they would not only be covered for any additional costs they incurred due to the inclement weather but also be reimbursed for the costs of the prepaid tickets to the Süper Lig match.
There are limits and exclusions that apply to the level of cover available following a natural disaster:
- You will need to have taken out a policy before the insured event occurs.
- If you’re stranded overseas and incurring additional accommodation and meals expenses, check the daily limits that apply to claimable amounts under your travel delay coverage.
- Travel insurance policies specify that they will cover “reasonable” additional expenses you incur to get home safely if you are ordered to evacuate after a natural disaster, so don’t expect an insurer to cover you for business class tickets home.
- Be wary of insurance policies that include the ambiguous term “act of God”. This term has been phased out by many insurers following the volcanic ash cloud in Iceland in 2010, but keep an eye out just in case.
- If your claim relates to a cyclone or hurricane, you will need to have taken out cover prior to the storm being named.
- In many cases, trip cancellation and trip interruption claims will only be paid if you stand to lose at least 50% of your trip due to evacuation orders.
- A destination will need to be uninhabitable for claims to be paid – if some facilities are unavailable or simply not as expected, that’s not enough for an insurer to pay out.
- Non-medical emergency evacuation claims will only be covered for the cost of getting you to “the nearest place of safety”.
- Limits apply to all areas of coverage, so make sure you’re aware of those limits as anything above that amount will need to be paid by you.
If you took out cover before the natural disaster occurred or before it became mainstream news, your travel insurer should still provide cover for additional expenses you incur on your holiday due to a natural disaster – so continuing with your travel plans may be an option.
However, you’ll need to check the benefit limits that apply to your policy and also check your policy’s list of general exclusions to make sure you will be covered. While you won’t be covered for anything that is related to the natural disaster, you will be covered for everything else on your policy.
The day before you’re due to depart on a tropical getaway, you check the weather forecast for your destination and are disappointed to find rain, wind and storms stretching for every day into the foreseeable future. There goes your plans of spending your holiday lying on the beach, so will your travel insurance cover you if you cancel your trip altogether?
In a word, no. You won’t be covered if you want to cancel your trip because of bad weather. Travel insurance will only cover you if the weather forces you to cancel your travel plans, for example if the resort you were booked to visit was severely damaged in a cyclone and unable to accept any guests.
What activities can travel insurance cover me for if they need to be cancelled due to bad weather?
- Snow sports. Many insurers offer a winter sports or snow sports pack that can be added to your travel insurance policy for an additional premium. These packs cover you if bad weather (or insufficient snow or power failure) cause all lift systems at your pre-booked resort to be closed for 24 hours, allowing you to pay for transport to the nearest open ski resort and purchase additional lift passes. In addition, if your outward or return journey is delayed for more than 12 hours by bad weather or avalanche, your extra travel and accommodation expenses will be covered.
- Golf. If you’re planning a golfing holiday, you can add specialist golf cover to your travel insurance policy. This type of plan will cover you when bad weather forces the closure of the golf course at your resort, allowing you to travel to the nearest golf course resort and cover the cost of playing.
Depending on your insurer, you may be covered when bad weather causes the cancellation of other activities, so read the PDS for more details.
- Take out a policy ASAP. Nature is unpredictable and disasters can occur at any time, so take out travel insurance as soon as you have booked and paid for your trip.
- Read the fine print. The treatment of natural disasters varies between insurers, while unexpected general exclusions have caught out many a traveller. Reading the fine print of the PDS before you take out cover will help you understand when you will and won’t be covered.
- Check the limits of coverage. Limits apply to many areas of cover, so check what those limits are before heading overseas.
- Emergency contacts. In the case of an emergency while overseas, most insurers offer 24/7 assistance lines that can help you find the assistance you need. It’s also a good idea to make yourself aware of emergency contacts (police, fire, ambulance) in the country you are visiting. You may also be able to receive assistance from the Australian Embassy.
- Know the risks before you travel. Certain regions of the world are more prone to earthquakes, cyclones, floods and fires, and some natural disasters are much more likely to occur at certain times of the year. Do your research before you travel so you know all the potential risks.
The maximum amount you can claim will be outlined in the PDS. For example, if you’re stranded overseas due to a natural disaster and you incur additional expenses, your insurer may provide $200 cover a day for accommodation and $50 a day for your living expenses, such as meals. As well as a daily limit, there will often also be a maximum benefit limit, for example $2,000.
It’s also important to remember that if you wish to make a claim for the additional expenses you incur due to a travel delay, you’ll need to keep your receipts. Once again, only "reasonable" accommodation and meals expenses will be covered, so don’t expect any assistance from your insurer if you book out the penthouse suite at a five-star hotel and then run up an astronomical room service bill.
What is a known event and why does it matter?
Travel insurance will not provide you with cover if your trip is disrupted due to an event that is known when you take out cover. A cyclone or hurricane that has been named is a known event, as is a volcanic eruption once it has begun. If a snowstorm or blizzard has been forecast, it is also a known event.
- Question: Can I make a claim if my flight is cancelled?
- Answer: If an airline cancels your departure flight from Australia, the airline is responsible for reimbursing you or providing alternative routing options. However, you can still claim on your travel insurance policy for resulting expenses such as unused travel and accommodation costs.
- Question: Will travel insurance pay for accommodation and meals if I’m stranded overseas following a natural disaster?
- Answer: Yes. Travel insurers will cover the reasonable costs you incur in these circumstances, but remember that daily and overall limits apply.
- Question: What if I’m stranded abroad and I exceed the maximum insured trip length as a result?
- Answer: In most cases, your insurer will automatically extend your cover, but check the fine print of your policy to be sure.
- Question: I’ve just read about a natural disaster in a destination I am travelling to next — will I be covered if I take out a travel insurance policy?
- Answer: No. The natural disaster is now a known event. You would only be covered if you already had a policy in place.
- Question: What should I do if I need emergency assistance and advice while overseas?
- Answer: You can contact your travel insurer’s emergency assistance hotline, which is usually staffed 24/7. In other situations, you may need to contact local emergency services or seek assistance from the Australian Embassy.
Compare natural disaster cover from the brands in our panel
Mother Nature can be incredibly unpredictable at times, so taking out travel insurance cover as soon as possible when planning a holiday is essential. Compare travel insurance for natural disasters at finder.com.au to find a policy that matches your needs and budget.