08 January, 2024
- By Hayley

Tsunamis, not something you want to worry about on your holiday. But unfortunately, natural disasters can happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time.

Tsunamis are essentially large waves created by a disruption on the ocean floor. They occur most commonly due to natural disasters like undersea earthquakes and volcanic eruptions with devastating effects. The first point of damage is usually caused by a large tidal waves which leave an aftermath of flooding for weeks to come.

Does Travel Insurance Cover Tsunamis?

The purpose of travel insurance is to cover you should the unthinkable occur, and covering natural disasters is exactly the type of thing that it does. If you were injured, stuck overseas or could not travel due to a tsunami, generally speaking you’d be covered.

What's Covered by tsunami travel insurance?

If the tsunami 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 tsunami forces you to cancel and claim for out of pocket expenses. Your accommodation provider would have to be no longer a viable option as a result of the tsunami.

Cancellation (when already abroad): If you are within the tsunami zone you will be covered for travel and accommodation costs involved in moving 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 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.

What isn't 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 you wouldn’t be eligible to buy cover for any losses incurred, or claim to cancel your trip.

Insufficient cover: Remember that Basic (or medical only) policies would cover for any medical claims in regard to tsunami’s, but would not cover travel delays, lost luggage or trip cancellation.

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

Countries at a higher risk

A tsunami could hit anywhere at any time in this ever-changing world. However, some countries are at more risk than others – and these are the ones in the Pacific Ocean. Chile, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, India and the West Coast of the US to name a few.

The tsunami in Indonesia Sumatra on 26 December 2004 was one of the most horrific to hit in recent years with a devastating effect leaving over 230,000 people dead and billions of dollars’ worth of damage. This was the result of an 9.1 magnitude earthquake causing a 50m tall wave and 1300km long. The effect and damages reaching as far as 5km inland.

What to Do should a tsunami strike?

  • Stay alert: Look for signs such as rise or fall in ocean water. Typically as a tsunami approaches shorelines, water may recede from the coast, exposing the ocean floor, reefs and fish.
  • Evacuate do not wait! It’s important to get as far away from the oncoming waves as soon as possible.
  • Get to highest ground: If possible get to the top floor of the building you are in, or if you are outside look for the tallest thing and try to get to it. Avoid buildings where heavy objects may fall from buildings, or power lines in the aftermath.
  • Listen to government warnings and safety information: At all times keep abreast of news in your local area and keep up to date with warnings from smartraveller.gov.au.

Get Solid Cover

No matter how experienced or conscientious a traveller you are, an unpredictable event 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.

Hayley Kennedy

Hayley Kennedy

Originally from the UK, Hayley took a gap ‘year’ in 2011… and it’s still going! She’s travelled all over the world, volunteering in a Ugandan orphanage, skydiving in Australia, shark diving in South Africa, and skiing in the Alps (and snapping in a ligament in the process!). Certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice and working in travel insurance for over two years, Hayley is a thrillseeker and a storyteller who loves hearing about customers’ holiday plans and sharing her own tips and must-see spots to help get them inspired.