Floods and hurricanes: What does your travel insurance cover?

By , October 27, 2011 12:24 pm
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In the past week news headlines have been filled with stories of disruption caused by the weather which could affect British holiday makers.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has just updated their travel advice to Thailand and are now advising against all but essential travel to the city of Bangkok and the twenty-six provinces in the country which are currently affected by widespread flooding.

The approach of hurricane Rina has caused tourists to be evacuated and cruise ships change route as it approaches he Mexican coast near the popular resort of Cancun.

But, it’s not only long haul destinations that can be affected by severe weather, there were flash floods in Spain last week and flooding in Dublin city centre earlier this week.

But what happens if your holiday is affected by floods, hurricanes or other similar events?

Contact your tour operator or airline first

Whether you are in the UK waiting to depart for your holiday or you are actually overseas, if you think your holiday may be affected, the first thing you should do is contact your tour operator or airline for the latest information. You have a contract with them and they have a duty to get you to the destination you have booked to travel to, or bring you home if you are abroad.

Check the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

The FCO publishes regularly updated travel advice by country; you should check their website for the latest information before you travel. If the FCO advise against travel to a country or particular part of a country, you should contact your tour operator or airline. Be aware, that if you choose to travel against FCO advice that your travel insurance cover will be not be valid.

What does travel insurance cover?

There are two sections of your travel insurance policy that could provide cover if your holiday is affected by flooding or hurricanes.

Travel delay under your travel insurance

If flooding or a hurricane delays or prevents your departure from the UK, or delays your return flight to the UK, you may be able to make a claim under the travel delay section of your policy.

Generally, if your outbound or return flight to or from the UK is delayed due to adverse weather conditions you can claim a benefit for every full 12 or 24 hours that you are delayed, check your policy wording for details. This benefit is intended to help cover additional expenses such as food and drink if you are stuck at the airport for longer than expected.

Also, if your outbound flight is delayed by more than 12 or 24 hours you might have the option with your travel insurance policy to abandon your holiday and make a claim for the cost, again, you should check your policy terms and conditions for full details.

Always check the terms and conditions of your policy – you usually have to have checked in for your flight for the travel delay cover to be applicable.

Catastrophe or uninhabitable accommodation cover

Catastrophe cover, which can also be known as uninhabitable accommodation cover or accommodation cover is included in many travel insurance policies.

It is designed to provide cover for additional, irrecoverable travel or accommodation costs if you are forced to move from your pre-paid, pre-booked holiday accommodation (outside of the UK) as a result of unforeseen events such as flood, fire, earthquake, hurricane and medical epidemic. The cover is intended to enable you to continue your holiday in alternative accommodation, or if that’s not possible, return to the UK. Check your travel insurance policy before you travel for full details.

Natural Catastrophe Cover or Natural Disaster Cover

This is a relatively new area of cover for travel insurance and was introduced as an optional extra by some travel insurance providers in response the volcanic ash crisis in 2010. It is intended to enhance your policy by providing cover for cancellation, delay and additional expenses incurred due to unexpected events such as volcanic ash clouds and other natural disasters; such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes.

Remember the terms and conditions of different travel insurance policies will vary, so should always read your policy wording carefully to ensure it provides the cover you need. By law you get a 14 day cooling off period, this gives you the time, once you have bought your policy, to read the terms and conditions and cancel the policy without charge if it is not suitable for your needs.

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