After months of activity, Mount Agung, an active volcano is East Bali, Indonesia, has finally erupted. The ensuing ash cloud closed the airport, leaving thousands of travellers standed and unclear as to whether they are covered by their travel insurance. While the airport has temporarily opened to allow flights out, changing weather conditions are limiting the windows to leave.
Whether you're stuck in Bali now, have plans to travel there soon, or are considering travelling to a volcano zone in the future, our helpful tips will help you make the most out of your trip...
For the most up to date information on Bali's Mount Agung click here.
It all depends on the nature of your policy and when you purchased it. When it comes to travel insurance cancellation cover you'd only be covered for an unknown event. A ‘known’ event refers to one that is not unforeseen or has been widely broadcast across mainstream media. For instance, once an event has been announced in the media, travellers would not be covered for any losses incurred. Insurers will typically set cut-off dates whereby cover for a specific event would be put on hold and only resumed after a period of restricted cover. In mid-September, Indonesia deemed an eruption to be imminent, and insurers introduced these cut-off dates and exclusions for disruptions as a result of Mount Agung. Some insurers lifted these cut-offs when volcanic activity decreased, and imposed new ones when activity increased again. So if you purchased a comprehensive policy that covers natural disasters before the cut-offs, good news – you’re covered!
Many airlines are offering customers flights to alternative destinations, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Tokyo. If you choose to go to an alternative destination, contact your insurer about updating your policy and claiming for any arrangements in Bali you can't get refunded. Otherwise, the airlines may offer rescheduled flights to Bali or refunds - contact them now to find the solution that's right for you.If you have insurance - but won't be able to travel for health reasons related to the volcano, speak to your doctor and get documentation. If they confirm you're unfit to travel, you may be covered.
While some people think that your claim starts when you get home, what you do while you're away can affect whether and how quickly your claim will be approved.
Have insurance details handy: Most insurers have a 24-hour helpline to contact in an emergency, often with reversed charges. If your holiday isn't going to plan, they can advise you over the phone what to do next to minimise the risk of a denied claim. Take a print out of your insurance information with you at all times, and be prepared to quote your policy number.
Report as soon as possible: If you're experiencing delays or cancellations as a result of the volcano, your first point of call is your airline, as they are accountable for providing you with a return flight if you've paid for one. If you are in need of medical attention overseas contact your insurer as soon as you are able so they can guarantee payment to the healthcare provider.
Keep evidence: For cancellation or rescheduling costs for transport or accomodation, you will need receipts, tickets/itineraries or a letter from your travel agent showing changes to your journey. For medical expenses, you will need to provide written confirmation of illness or injury from a qualitied medical practicioner. Take photos of documents and email them home or upload them to the cloud for peace of mind.
Beware of increased excesses and any benefit limits that apply: Make copies of any original documents you send - if your documents are lost in transit to your insurer and can't be verified, this can prevent settlement of your claim.
Talk to your insurer: If you believe an error was made in processing your claim, your first contact is your insurer. If a claim has been denied for a lack of documentation, you may be able to amend your claim. If it has been denied for another reason, your insurer's complaints department may be able to resolve your issue.
Contact the Ombudsman: Insurers have a duty of care to clearly inform customers of limits and exclusions to the coverage they offer. If the Product Disclosure Statement was unclear, or you believe you were misled or not adequately informed, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1800 367 287.
While we'd all like to think that our holidays are going to be stress-free, the combination of new surroundings, complex travel arrangements and a more adventurous spirit mean that complications can arise. Consider our handy tips for protecting you and your family:
While budget or medical-only options look appealing, an extra $50 or so now on a comprehensive policy could save you thousands later. As a general rule, lower priced, basic policies would not provide cover for cancellation or travel delays. If you're cruising or engaging in adventure sports, make sure that your policy covers you, or ask about add-on options.
Having travelled to over 40 countries, studied tourism management and worked as a flight attendant for over three years, Natalie knows more than a thing or two about travel! She’s an adventure-lover, whose favourite trips have been trekking Machu Picchu and volunteering in an animal shelter in the Amazon. Qualified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice and specialising in travel insurance for the last five years, she in passionate about helping travellers get the most out of their holiday.