Travel insurance & natural disasters - the complete guide

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Natural disasters. They're a part of life and yet we're so incredibly unprepared for them when they do come along. The effects of a natural disaster can be truly shocking, hitting fast and leaving behind a trail of epic destruction.

So can you ever really be guaranteed protection from the ires of mother nature? Yes, no and maybe, is perhaps not the cut and dry answer you’d like to hear. But when it comes to travel we all like to know that should the very worst happen, we'd have a life raft of sorts to get us home safely.

According to most travel insurance plans natural disasters are typically defined as a “flood, fire, hurricane, cyclone, tornado, earthquake, volcanic eruption, blizzard or avalanche that is due to natural causes.” It’s worth knowing that not all policies will cover the same events, for instance, some may omit volcanic eruptions or avalanches, and it's important to note those exclusions. 

In this handy guide you’ll learn all about travel insurance in regards to avalanches, bushfires, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, and storms.  You'll find out what type of cover is available for each of the above and how to ensure you will be be protected should the unexpected take place.

Looking to do a bit of natural disaster research? We also provide you with some helpful information as to where the worst types of events take place. Remember, the better prepared you are, the more informed your decisions can be. 

Finally, if your holiday does take a hit we’ll tell you how to best salvage the situation. Knowing what’s required of you can take a load off should you run into trouble.

 

natural disasters travel insurance
 

Travel Insurance and avalanches

Travel insurance and avalanches

We all know the old adage; “you can't have too much of a good thing”. Unfortunately, you certainly can have too much snow! A sprinkling of snow falling on pristine landscape? Beautiful. A nice deep covering of snow on the mountain side? Perfect for skiing and boarding! Tonnes of the white stuff plunging towards you down a mountainside? Not so good!

If you’re serious about skiing and snowboarding, you need to be aware of the dangers of avalanches. These marauding torrents of snow, ice and assorted mountainside debris might look spectacular from far away, but when you’re in the firing line of an avalanche, it ain't that pretty.

Getting caught in an avalanche can mean broken bones and belongings- and that's if you're lucky. When you're at risk of an avalanche, taking out comprehensive ski insurance is vital.

so what's the deal with avalanches?

Most people think of avalanches as a cascade of snow falling down a mountain, but avalanches can range in length and severity. A common avalanche is the “loose snow” type, in which low to medium density masses of snow move quickly down a mountainside.

Another type of avalanche is the “slab” variety, which occurs when densely packed blocks of snow roll down the mountain. This type is the more dangerous of the two, and can account for the majority of avalanche fatalities.

There are a multitude of factors that can cause avalanches, but there are two main ingredients; tall mountains and lots of snow! Avalanches occur when something triggers a collapse in a weak layer of snow, setting off a chain reaction which forces vast amounts of snow, ice and other debris down the mountainside at an alarming rate. Due to the unpredictable nature of snow fall and busy conditions at mountain resorts, this can happen at almost any time.

It's easy to become complacent when you are out and about in the mountains but don't underestimate the seriousness of avalanche warnings- these could save your life. 

where do avalanches happen?

Got a mountainous adventure coming up? Hover over the map to see if your elevated destination falls into a high risk zone. 

The information in the map below is provided as a general guide only. Please refer to avalanche.org for up-to-date information.

 

 

 

Does travel insurance cover avalanches?

Avalanches can cause major disruption to your travel plans. That's where travel insurance comes in! Typically a policy will give you cover for any travel cancellations and expenses, loss of belongings, and the most important: personal injury.

These are some of the things you can claim for...

  • Cancellation (before you leave): If you've booked a holiday, only to find that you are no longer able to travel to your destination, you could be eligible to claim.

  • Cancellation (when already abroad): Avalanches can strike rapidly and without warning. When this happens, your travel plans may need to change quick sharp! If your accommodation becomes uninhabitable, if your flights are cancelled or if your transport is diverted when you have already left the country, your insurance should cover you for any additional costs incurred.

  • Alternative accommodation arrangements following an avalanche: Any additional hotel stays or other accommodation arrangements made due to the incident should be covered by your insurer.

  • Any extra costs linked to the avalanche: Hire car charges, missed bookings or any other costs that you incur as a direct result of an avalanche should also be covered.

  • Lost or damaged belongings: Any loss or damage to your belongings as a result of an avalanche won't leave you out of pocket, as they should be covered by your insurance policy.

  • Medical costs for personal injury: Costs associated with treatments, stays in hospital, medication or other expenses can soon mount up when you're abroad. Fortunately, your insurance will cover medical costs; just remember to keep a record of all expenses incurred.

what isn't covered?

Of course, there may be some exclusions that apply to your cover. Should the following occur on your travels you may not have provision to claim:

  • Choosing not to travel: Your insurance company will only pay out if your destination is classed as "uninhabitable" or your transportation is "significantly delayed". Simply deciding not to go because of a travel warning is not enough.

  • Claiming on known events: Once the avalanche is reported in the news, it becomes a known event. This means that any policy you purchase AFTER the event will not cover you for any costs incurred as a result.

  • Ignoring travel warnings: If you do not heed travel warnings - particularly governmental travel warnings - you are effectively straying into a danger area of your own accord. Insurance companies don't take kindly to this kind of recklessness, and your cover could be invalidated.

So you're snowed in! What to do?

1. Always heed travel warnings and take extra care in danger zones

Operators of ski resorts and other popular mountainous tourist destinations know their stuff. So it pays to always pay attention to their warnings at all times. While it is a myth that avalanches can be caused by sound, it is certainly true that they are often caused by unwary skiers wandering into danger areas. Note: You also run the risk of invalidating your travel insurance by not heeding clear travel warnings.

2.  Sip 'n ski? Maybe not

Feel free to enjoy a drink or three after your ski session, but stick to non-alcoholic beverages before your hit the slopes! Avoid any temptation to ski after a few tipples; this can increase your risk of injury and impair your judgement, which is the last thing you need whilst navigating the white stuff. Again, any injuries incurred whilst you are intoxicated are unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance policy.

3. Contact your insurer as soon as it is safe to

Your insurance company needs to be kept up-to-date on all goings on. Keep in contact with them until you are safely back home. Recording all expenses will maximise your chances of a successful claim.

Don't get left in the cold following an avalanche, take out the right travel insurance policy and make sure you are protected!

Travel Insurance and Bushfires

 

Travel insurance and bushfires

Since the dawn of time, mankind has been harnessing the power of fire. Some might say fire is man’s best friend. But this is only true if your best friend is a scary, dangerous, unpredictable thing with a tendency to get out of control quickly and with lethal results!

We all know about the dangers of fires in our own homes and neighbourhoods, but there is something about travelling that can cause our mentality to shift. This is understandable – after all, travelling is all about freedom of the mind and body – but it is vital to stay informed, to stay aware and to stay safe when you are away. If you ignore the dangers of bushfires, prepare to get toasted!

Where do bushfires strike?

Fires tend to strike in hot, dry destinations. That said, that doesn't mean a fire can't strike anywhere. Hover over the map to see if your travel destination is a typical "hot zone"! NOTE: The information in the map below is provided as a general guide only.

 

 

Some of the World's worst bushfires

Bushfires can be devastating. There are a myriad of factors that can combine to cause a bushfire, but usually they are triggered by tinder-dry conditions and a spark from a dropped match, a lightning strike, or another seemingly innocuous event. The following are some of the worst bushfires in recent years:

The Wallow Fire, 2011

The bushfires that struck Arizona and Mexico’s Bear Wallow Wilderness in 2011 were some of the most aggressive seen in recent years. The destruction of 2180 square kilometres was found to be caused by two careless campers and their abandoned campfire.

The California Fires, 2014

The climate of California makes it particularly susceptible to bushfires, but 2014 saw more blazes than usual. A total of 7,865 bushfires were recorded throughout the summer, causing US$184.02 worth of damage.

Black Saturday, 2014

Black Saturday is the official term given to the horrendous set of fires that struck the state of Victoria in 2009. The fires raged for over a month, leaving 4,500 square kilometres of burnt land in their wake and tragically claiming the lives of 173 people.

what can my travel insurance cover?

Even if you are not caught directly in the path of an inferno, bushfires are so devastating and unpredictable that they can cause massive disruption to travel. Fortunately, your travel insurance can help you with this. These are some of the events you can claim for...

  • Cancellation (before you leave): If you've booked a holiday, only to find that you are no longer able to travel to your destination, you could be eligible to claim.

  • Cancellation (when already abroad): Bushfires can strike without warning and spread quickly. When this happens, your travel plans may change rapidly! If, as a result of a bushfire, your accommodation becomes uninhabitable, your flights are cancelled or your transport is diverted (after you have already left), your insurance should cover you for any additional costs you incur.

  • Alternative accommodation arrangements following a bushfire: Any additional hotel stays or other accommodation arrangements made after a bushfire begins should be covered by your insurer.

  • Any extra costs linked to the bushfire: Hire car charges, missed bookings or any other costs that you incur as a direct result of the fire should also be covered.

  • Lost or damaged belongings: Any losses or damages to your belongings won't leave you out of pocket, as they should be covered by your insurance policy.

  • Medical costs for personal injury: Costs associated with treatments, stays in hospital, medication or other expenses can mount up when you're abroad. Fortunately, your insurance will cover your medical treatment; just remember to keep a record of all costs incurred. 

what isn't covered?

Of course, there may be some exclusions that apply to your cover. Here are a few important points to keep in mind before you claims...

  • Choosing not to travel because of a risk of fire: Your insurance company will only pay out if your destination is classed as "uninhabitable" or your transportation is "significantly delayed". Simply deciding not to go does not give cause enough to claim.

  • Claiming on known events: Once the fire is reported in the news, it becomes a known event. This means that any policy you purchase AFTER the fire has been widely reported will not cover you for any costs incurred as a result of the fire.

  • Ignoring travel warnings: If you do not heed travel warnings - particularly governmental travel warnings - you are effectively straying into a danger area of your own accord. Insurance companies don't take kindly to this kind of recklessness, and your cover may be invalidated.

it's getting hot! how can i claim?

Here's what you need to do when the temperature starts to rise;

Keep a record: Your insurer will need to know about all additional purchases made and expenses incurred as a result of a fire. This includes additional travel tickets, accommodation receipts or medical bills, so keep all of this documentation with you.

Keep in contact with your insurer: 
Put your insurance company on speed dial and keep it there. If disaster strikes, you need to be in constant contact with your insurer. They need to be informed of all developments as soon as they occur, so keep that phone handy!

Get confirmation: 
Don’t make any major payments until you have the green light from the insurance company. Remember to confirm that all additional expenses will be covered before going ahead.

sure-fire tips to stay safe

  • Be responsible: If everyone took steps to eliminate fires, the risk of fire danger would be far lower, so do your bit to limit any potential hazards. Don’t smoke in areas that are an obvious fire risk, pay attention to warnings and remain vigilant for any imminent dangers.

  • Be aware: It may be a good idea to make a specific bushfire plan if you're in a prone zone. Ensure everyone in your group knows what to look for, how to leave quickly, and where you can seek shelter if the worst happens.

Get fired-up for your trip, but don't get burnt! Follow these tips and enjoy an exciting, inspiring and, above all, safe holiday.

 

Travel Insurance and Earthquakes

travel insurance and tremors: the truth about earthquakes

The Earth’s tectonic plates are constantly moving, at times even colliding with one another. This produces a tremendous amount of energy in the earth’s surface, creating huge vibrations, leading to earthquakes. Although we only tend to hear about the worst occurrences, thousands of little earthquakes actually take place each year.

Where do earthquakes occur?

Earthquakes can strike anywhere but they are particularly likely to happen near a fault line (a place where two tectonic plates meet). The largest quakes will usually occur when two plates collide. For this reason, regions such as New Zealand, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Japan, the Americas and Indonesia are highly prone to earthquakes. PLEASE NOTE: The information in the map below is provided as a general guide only. Please refer to earthquaketrack.com for up-to-date information.

 

 

 

World's worst quakes

The following earthquakes take precedence as some of the absolute worst of recent times.

  • Valdivia, Chile, 1960
    With a magnitude of 9.5 on the Richter scale, this disaster goes down as one of the worst quakes ever. It killed 1,655 people, injured 3,000 and caused up to $550 million worth of damage to Chile. It also spawned a collossal tsunami that destroyed parts of Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines and triggered a nearby volcanic eruption too.

  • Sumatra, Indonesia, 2004
    The resulting tsunami of this 9.1 rated earthquake killed 227,900 people and displaced a further 1.7 million. The earthquake is reported to have affected over 14 countries, with its effects seen as far away as Antarctica and North Africa.

  • Sendai, Japan, 2011
    This colossal earthquake and ensuing tsunami is recorded as the costliest natural disaster of all time. In addition to triggering a meltdown at the Fukoshima nuclear plant (resulting in a radiation leak) over 15,891 people lost their lives and a further 2,500 are still reported missing.

  • Christchurch, New Zealand, 2011
    Closer to home, this earthquake came just six months after an even more powerful one. Occurring on a fault line that was shallow and close to the city, this quake was especially destructive, killing 185 people and injuring several thousand.

  • Anchorage, Alaska, 1964
    As North America’s worst earthquake (and the second largest ever measured) this magnitude 9.2 quake ripped apart Alaska’s landscape. Despite the devastation, only 139 people died as the earthquake hit on Good Friday, when most people were at home or church.

Is it safe to travel to destinations where Earthquakes occur?

Luckily, major earthquakes occur only a few times a year and the odds of an earthquake occurring during a short visit are unlikely. Additionally, modern technology continues to improve and has made it easier to predict when and where an earthquake is likely to rumble.

Does travel insurance cover earthquakes?

If an earthquake has occurred at your holiday destination either before or after you’ve left home, you may be covered. But, before you travel it’s worth understanding the terms of your cover.

When you are covered

If the earthquake was not a known event when you bought your policy you would be covered for:

    • Cancellation (before you’ve left): If you’ve not left yet, benefits will be paid if the earthquake forces you to cancel and claim for out-of-pocket expenses (provided the policy was purchased prior to the cancellation).

    • Cancellation (when already abroad): If you are within the earthquake zone you will be covered for travel and accommodation costs involved in moving you to new accommodation (if your booked accommodation is deemed uninhabitable). If your flights have been cancelled you would also be covered for any additional flight costs.

    • Medical costs: Should you incur any injuries as a result of an earthquake, benefits would be paid towards your treatment.

    • Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation: In the event that you require emergency evacuation or medical treatment cannot be administered locally you would be evacuated to the nearest medical facility. Repatriation costs would also be covered In the event of your death.

When you’re not covered

    • Travel against warnings: If you intentionally put yourself in harm’s way and travel to a country or region against governmental travel advice, you do so at your own peril. You will not be covered for anything that relates to the travel warning.

    • Known events: Once an event is known in the mass media (i.e. big tremors have begun, a snow storm is forecasted or a volcano has erupted) you wouldn’t be eligible to buy cover for any losses incurred, or claim to cancel your trip. Insurers will set cut-off dates, for instance travellers affected by the Nepal earthquake who had purchased cover prior to April 25, 2015 were eligible to claim. After the 25th, you could no longer purchase cover for the Nepal earthquake event.

    • Insufficient cover: Remember that Basic (or medical only) policies would cover for any medical claims in regards to earthquakes, but would not cover travel delays, lost luggage or trip cancellation as a result of an earthquake.

    • Claim for any reason: There would be no cover if your existing travel plans were not directly affected by the earthquake or if you just had a change of heart about your trip.

    • Accomodation cover: Your place of residence would have to be uninhabitable for you to make a claim (i.e. the hotel not meeting expectations or a broken pool would not suffice).

Natural Disasters Claim tips

    • Get it down on paper: If your flights have been cancelled or delayed due to an earthquake be sure to get any written proof of such events from your airline.

    • Contact your insurer: Before you go ahead and pay for any extra accommodation or flights check in with your insurer that they will cover any added costs.

    • Keep receipts: Your insurer will need some type of proof of payment in order to pay out your claim. Hold onto any boarding passes, receipts or credit card statements.

What should I do in an earthquake?

The recent devastating earthquake in Nepal killed and displaced thousands of people. Whilst a tremor this size is said to occur only once every hundred years, the quake had catastrophic consequences due to Nepal’s poorly built infrastructure. Whilst the odds of getting caught in an earthquake on holidays are unlikely, it’s always good to prepare for the worst. With popular tourist destinations such as Japan, Nepal and Indonesia all bearing the brunt of sizable earthquakes it’s important to have the facts and understand any necessary safety procedures.

Firstly, if you’re travelling to an earthquake prone region you should buy travel insurance and get a good understanding of the fine print. As well, make sure you’re registered at Smartraveller. Get to know the emergency phone numbers procedures for the region and keep your passport and photo ID secured or with you at all times. If you happen to be living overseas when an earthquake strikes an emergency back-up plan can be a very wise idea.

Earthquake survival tips will vary but it’s worth understanding the local safety codes. For instance, in countries with modern infrastructure, such as Japan, it’s thought that the best place to be during an earthquake is under a table in the middle of a room. On the other hand, in countries with structurally unsound buildings, the rule of thumb is to evacuate immediately. Brushing up on the area’s safety procedures can make all the difference when it comes to your security.

Depending on the state of disaster around you it may be advisable to return home immediately. If you are safe but have found yourself stranded due to cancelled flights and damaged infrastructure, you may incur significant accommodation and travel costs. Although these would be reimbursed by travel insurance, it’s advisable to keep any additional expenses to a reasonable minimum and hold on to your receipts.

No matter how experienced or conscientious a traveller you are, an unpredictable event such as an earthquake can turn your holiday upside-down. Making sure you’ve got travel insurance and understanding any significant exclusions can be the first step in managing a natural disaster.

Travel Insurance and Hurricanes

Travel insurance and hurricanes

Hurricanes are just strong winds, right? Wrong. By definition winds must reach 120 kmph before they are classified as a hurricane.  They are amongst the most indiscriminately lethal and devastating events that nature can throw at you. While hurricanes are relatively rare, they are powerful enough to ruin a holiday. 

Where are hurricanes likely to strike?

Hurricanes can strike almost anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you need to cancel your trip and spend the holiday wrapped in a blanket under the bed. You just need to know the risks associated with: a) the location you are visiting, and b) the time of year. The Atlantic hurricane season usually lasts from May to September, but it is vital to read up on information specific to where you are going. Places such as the coast of North Carolina, the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands have hurricanes on average once every 1.5 years, so the risk is fairly high. Always keep an eye out for weather warnings and take heed of advice from the government before you travel.

Our map shows the typical paths of tropical revolving storms.

hurricaine cyclone map

 

world's worst hurricanes

The following hurricaines take precedence as some of the worst of recent times.

    • Hurricane Pauline, 1997
      Working it's way up the Mexican coastline, Pauline dumped torrential rainfalls with 16" of rain in Acapulco alone! The relentless downpour caused disastrous land slides in some of Mexico's poorest villages, killing roughly 250-400 people and leaving a striking 300,000 people homeless. Beyond all the lives destroyed, Hurricane Pauline caused a massive amount of damage, exceeding $7.5 billion.

    • Hurricane Mitch, 1998
      Winds of up to 285km/h battered Florida and Central America for two weeks in 1998, doing over $6billion worth of damage and claiming 11,000 lives.

    • Kenna, 2002
      A category 5 hurricane, Kenna was the 3rd most intense Pacific hurricane to ever strike Mexico's West Coast. 140 mph winds and a 16-foot surge devastated the coastline, causing $101 million dollars in damage.

    • Hurricane Katrina, 2005
      In terms of devastation, Katrina is notable, ranking as the most costly natural disaster in the history of the United States. It also ranks as one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the U.S, killing 1,833 and injuring thousands more. 

It's Getting Windy! What Can I Claim For?

In most cases travel insurance does cover you for natural disasters. The following are some of the typical events you can claim for.

  • Cancellations before you leave: Non-refundable hotels, extra trips or added extra costs to your holiday that you cannot recoup can be claimed for. As well, you have provision to claim any extra expenses if you are forced to cancel your holiday before you have left.
  • Cancellations when already abroad: You will also have provision to claim if you are forced to cancel your holiday once you are already abroad. Provided you are within the designated disaster area, you can claim for the funds required to find alternative accommodation in a safe area.
  • Medical costs: Medical costs should always be covered, even on the most basic of insurance plans. Any injuries you incur as a direct result of the hurricane will be covered, provided you have not invalidated your insurance policy. Emergency medical evacuation will usually also be covered.

What could blow my cover?

Even if your travel insurance does cover losses, damage or injury caused by a hurricane can still be invalidated. Here’s how:

You might think of hurricanes as random, rampaging monsters, but in fact the weather bureau will often give out warnings well in advance of a hurricane. Always heed weather reports and travel warnings; if you are specifically advised not to travel because of a hurricane warning, your insurance company is unlikely to cover you in the event of a wind-related mishap!

Something else that could pose a problem is taking out insufficient cover. You wouldn't wander into a rain storm without an umbrella, so don't stray into hurricane territory without appropriate insurance. Basic travel insurance will cover you for medical bills only, leaving you unable to claim for damaged belongings, cancellations or other monetary losses in the event of a hurricane. 

Top tip: Keep an eye on the cut-off dates for claim submissions, and keep a copy of your insurance policy's fine print with you at all times. You don't want to be precluded from claiming because of a technicality!

When the Wind Picks Up, What Do I Need to Remember?

A handy rule of thumb; to ensure a successful claim, keep everything! Keep a record of every event that occurs as a result of the hurricane and get documented evidence or confirmation from airlines, local authorities, hotels or other businesses.

After you contact your insurer, don’t make any large payments until you receive confirmation that the payment will be covered. Keep a record of your communications and ask your insurer to do the same.

Once you’ve got the green light from your insurer, make the payment, but don’t forget to hold onto your receipts! All insurance companies will need proof of purchase before they agree to a payout, so keep hold of any evidence of the transaction, whether that is receipts, bank statements or any other documentation.

Travel Insurance and Storms

travel insurance and storms

We love a storm! There’s nothing like being safe and sound at home when the rain starts to fall and forks of lightning start to flicker on the horizon. But what about when when storms get out of hand? Big storms can be bad news for anyone, but for travellers they can be disastrous. A good storm makes for a great photo-opportunity, but when that storm grows in severity, your travel plans can be ruined as a result.

 

Where am i at risk of storms?

Storms can affect you virtually anywhere in the world. Whether its a catastrophic cyclone in Fiji, torrential tornado in Toronto or horrendous hail storm in New York that shuts down road traffic or a snowstorm that freezes the tarmac and grounds flights, storms can have a devastating effect on international travel. 

how dangerous can a storm really be?

You should never underestimate the powerful impact of a storm. A storm can combine all the very worst weather conditions and wreak havoc on those unlucky enough to find themselves in its eye. The following weather conditions can prove incredibly dangerous and should be treated with utmost caution:

  • Lightning: Lightning strikes are rare enough to be uncommon - but common enough to pose a threat. Each year 10 people die in Australia as a consequence of lightning strikes in addition to over 100 injuries. When lightning approaches, seek shelter and stay away from anything that might attract a strike.

  • High winds: Getting blown away by a high wind is fairly unlikely, but getting struck by a falling object as a result of high winds is a significant risk. If you are caught in a storm, seek shelter as quickly as possible. If you are already inside, stay there and stay away from windows.

  • Flash floods: When heavy rain meets an overworked urban drainage system or saturated high ground, all that water has to flow somewhere. Flash flooding can be destructive and dangerous to boot. When floods occur It's advisable to find shelter immediately and don’t be tempted to wade into this often filthy, disease-ridden water. Do you notice the pattern here? If a storm hits, stay inside!

what can i claim for?

Travel cancellations, injuries, damaged belongings, spiralling costs; all of these can result from a particularly bad storm. This is why cover is crucial for your trip; you can't always predict which way the weather can turn.

There is a veritable deluge of things that you can claim for in the event of a storm, here are some examples:

Travel cancelled before you leave: If a major storm happens in your holiday destination before you leave, this is likely to put your travel plans on standby as flights to and from the destination may be affected by poor visibility. As long as you have kept all the paperwork relating to your travel plans and to your insurance policy, you should be able to claim. You must have purchased your cover BEFORE the storm!

Being stranded: While storms are usually predictable, they can also happen suddenly, which can cause a bit of a headache if you are mid-trip. If a storm has cancelled or grounded your flights, you may find costs beginning to spiral as you make alternative travel and accommodation arrangements. It is important to contact your insurance company as soon as you are affected whilst keeping a record of all correspondence and additional expenses you incur.

Personal injury or loss of belongings: If the worst happens and you get caught in the vicinity of an treacherous storm, keep a record of all medical treatment received and all belongings damaged or lost. Contact your insurance company immediately and keep a record of all communication.

What is't covered?

  • Choosing not to travel: Your insurance company will only pay out if your destination is classed as "uninhabitable" or your transportation is "significantly delayed". Simply deciding not to go because of bad weather does not give enough cause to claim.

  • Claiming on known events: Once the storm is reported in the news, it becomes a known event. This means that any policy you purchase AFTER the storm has been widely reported will not cover you for any costs incurred. Insurers cut off dates will vary, so it's wise to pay close attention to these details.

  • Ignoring travel warnings: If you do not heed travel warnings, particularly governmental travel warnings, you are effectively straying into a danger zone on your own accord. Insurance companies don't take kindly to this kind of recklessness, and your cover may be invalidated as a result.

How can I claim?

If you get caught in a storm, or if a storm causes mass travel cancellations, you will want to claim back the costs incurred. Follow these tips to make this process as seamless as possible:

  • Don't be a stranger: So a storm hits and your travel plans are cancelled, or maybe heavy winds have given you a nasty injury and relieved you of some of your personal belongings. What should you do? First things first; contact your insurer. In order for them to do their job they need to be kept informed of every little detail.

  • Hoard, hoard, hoard: Paid for medical treatment? Get a receipt. Had to purchase a second flight? Keep the ticket. Your insurance company is going to want to see evidence of all those added expenses. Even if you’re used to being a light-travelling citizen of the world, be sure to gather any relevant proof required to make a claim. Doing so will only assist you in receiving the correct compensation.
  • Read your policy documents: The best way to understand your cover and the claim process is to look at your Product Disclosure Statement.

Travel Insurance and Volcanoes

Travel insurance and volcanoes

There are several reasons why Hollywood loves a volcano; they are big, loud, spectacularly scary and also very deadly, making them perfect for a starring role in an action movie. Unfortunately, it is for these same reasons that an erupting volcano can be a pretty dangerous beast.

On the other hand, volcanoes are easy to spot (they are huge, immovable mountains after all) and their temper tantrums are fairly easy to predict. That said, their eruptions still manage to catch people off guard now and again, and even a dormant volcano can pose some serious hazards of its own (take for example, the continuing Bali ash cloud). If you are planning on entering one of Planet Earth’s volcanic danger zones anytime soon, you'll need to take note of the current travel warnings and get yourself insured early. As well, you'll need to make sure that your insurance covers injury, travel cancellation or loss of property; don’t just assume it does!

Where do Volcanoes Occur?

Volcanoes occur at the edge of tectonic plates. These plates are always moving, causing a large amount of friction where two plates meet. Often, one plate is forced beneath the other in what is known as a subduction zone. This process creates enormous amounts of heat and pressure, melting the rock beneath the Earth's surface, which is then expelled via an eruption. The fault lines of the Pacific rim have created some of the world's most famous - and infamous - volcanoes, included those found on the west coast of South America and in Krakatoa in Indonesia.

Pleased note, the information in the map below is provided as a general guide only. Please refer to volcanodiscovery.com for up-to-date information.

 

Some of the World's Most WELL KNOWN Volcanoes

  • Mount Ruapehu: This magnificent volcano is in fact the biggest single source of fatalities from natural disasters in New Zealand. Located on New Zealand's North Island, Ruapehu ranks among the world's most frequently erupting volcanoes. 

  • Mount Erebus: Bet you didn't know that volcanoes exist on Antarctica. Mount Erebus is named after the Ancient Greek god of darkness. This bad boy has been in a state of eruption since 1972!

  • Mount Pinatuba: This unassuming volcano made history as the second largest volcanic eruption in history in 1991. Located in the Philippines, Pinatuba is still well and truly active, but eruptions seem to be slowing. 

  • Mount Bandai: This active volcano was formed by a huge eruption in 1888. Bandai has inspired countless pieces of Japanese art and culture.

So it's all lava and fire, right?

Absolutely not! Volcanoes are like bumper-size picnic hampers full of just about everything Mother Nature can throw at you. Obviously it is the big, firework display pyrotechnics of volcanic eruptions that grab the headlines, but they account for only a fraction of the dangers posed by volcanoes. Ever heard of tephra? These nasty little things are pieces of volcanic rock and solidified clumps of ash that get blasted out of a volcano when it erupts. Add acid rain and pyroclastic flows (slow moving lava flows that decimate everything in their path) to the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for extreme danger.

But it is the clouds of noxious gases and ash released by a volcano that are likely to cause you the most hassle. Recent eruptions in Bali and Iceland sent disruptive clouds drifting for hundred miles, grounding flights and delaying thousands of frustrated travellers.

But if the volcano is not erupting, I’m fine?

Wrong! Even dormant volcanoes can pose all manner of threats. The topography of a volcano changes every time it erupts, putting a great deal of pressure on the structure of the mountainside itself and increasing the risk of landslides. What’s more, lahars can occur even when a volcano is not erupting. (A lahar is a thick soup of rock, mud and water that moves down the side of a volcano, often with devastating results.) These hazardous phenomena show just how careful you have to be around a volcano, even when it's not erupting!

Does travel insurance cover volcanoes?

Even if you are out of harms way, a volcano eruption can really disrupt your travel plans. If this occurs, here are some of the events you can claim for:
 
Travel cancelled before you leave: The eruption in 2010 of the Eyjafjallajok (try pronouncing that one!) volcano in Iceland caused massive disruption, and grounded flights all over Europe, highlighting the importance of comprehensive cover. If you’re heading into a volcanic hotspot, a major eruption could put your travel plans on ice, as flights to and from the destination may be affected by poor visibility. However, as long as you have kept all the paperwork relating to your travel plans and to your insurance policy, you should be able to claim. Please note you must have purchased your cover BEFORE the eruption, otherwise you may not be insured.

Stranded after a volcanic eruption: While volcanoes are usually predictable, eruptions can occur suddenly, which can cause a bit of a headache if you are mid-trip. If a volcano has cancelled or grounded flights, you may find your costs beginning to spiral as you make alternative travel and accommodation arrangements. It is important to contact your insurance company as soon as you are affected by a volcano. Keep a record of all correspondence and hold onto any receipts or evidence of additional expenses.

Cut-off dates: You also need to be aware of the cut-off dates which apply to your travel insurance. For example, once a volcano has been reported in the media it is no longer considered an 'unforeseen event.' Any insurance policies taken out after the 'cut-off date' will not cover you for anything related to the eruption (although of course you will still be covered for anything unrelated to the volcano). Keep in constant contact with your insurer to ensure that all your additional expenses will be covered.

Personal injury or loss of belongings: If the worst happens and you get caught in the vicinity of an erupting volcano, keep a record of all medical treatment received and all belongings damaged or lost. Contact your insurance company immediately and keep a record of all communication.
 

WHen are you not covered?

There may be some exclusions that apply to your cover. The following could invalidate a claim...

  • Choosing not to travel: Your insurance company will only pay out if your destination is classed as "uninhabitable" or your transportation is "significantly delayed". Simply deciding not to go is not reason enough to claim.

  • Claiming on known events: Once the eruption is reported in the news, it becomes a known event. This means that any policy you purchase AFTER the eruption has been widely reported will not cover you for any costs incurred.

  • Ignoring travel warnings: If you do not heed travel warnings - particularly governmental travel warnings - you are effectively straying into a danger area of your own accord. Insurance companies don't take kindly to this kind of recklessness, and your cover may be invalidated.
Don't land yourself in hot water (or lava), make sure you have the right insurance cover before your leave. Stay safe, stay covered and have the trip of a lifetime.
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