Travel Insurance Advice As Volcanic Disruption Continues

20 April 2010 / by Rachael Stiles

The Association of British Insurers has issued advice to travellers whose plans have been affected by the volcanic ash cloud, and more disruptions could be on the way.

There has been talk of further volcanic eruptions keeping planes on the ground, and even more disappointed or stranded travellers with nowhere to go.

Whereas some travel insurance companies have been quick to reassure their customers that they will be covered for the cost of delays, cancellations and alternative accommodation, others have been less forthcoming, leaving many unsure if the expense will come out of their own pocket.

In cases of delays or cancellations, the airline with usually offer an alternative flight or a refund, but as the saga continues, travellers stranded abroad are having to pay for extra accommodation while they wait for the dust to settle.

Other travellers have spent hundreds or thousands of pounds finding alternative travel home, in the form of trains, buses and ferries; speedboat companies have been cashing in by offering trips across the channel to and from France at a premium rate.

Advising travel insurance customers, Nick Starling, director of general insurance and health at the ABI, said: “Insurers are responding to a significantly increased volume of calls and customers should be aware they may have to wait longer than usual. Priority will be always given to those with health emergencies. Calls that are meant for airlines or tour operators are being redirected as appropriate.”

Those with single-trip travel insurance policies who are stranded abroad will automatically have the period of cover extended, he reassured, typically up to one month. Those who have had their outbound travel plans changed should contact their travel insurance provider before the new departure date to amend the period of cover.

“Payment for delay, whether outward or return, is usually a fixed amount per delayed period up to a maximum figure, not an open-ended sum,” he explained.
“It is especially important to talk to your insurer to determine the types of expenses which can be covered before you incur them.”

Mr Starling also debunked the ‘Act of God’ clause as a way of travel insurance providers avoiding having to pay out. “Where this event is not specifically covered by your insurer some are offering ex-gratia payments for customers stranded abroad,” he said, and urges all travellers to contact their airline or airport before travelling.

The Met Office has advised that the eruptions from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano are not as significant as they were at the weekend, but that the ash can travel more than 10,000 feet, and weather patterns are continuing to blow areas of ash towards the UK.

“As the volcanic activity changes, there may be some clearance of ash at times, over parts of the UK,” it said in a statement today. “We will be looking to provide timely advice about when these opportunities might happen.”

© Fair Investment Company Ltd

Written by Editorial Team