Category: Travel Insurance Volcanic Ash

Volcanic ash disrupts flights in New Zealand: Can travel insurance help?

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By , August 7, 2012 10:36 am
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As an unexpected volcanic eruption in New Zealand causes an ash cloud disrupting flights and closing roads, we look at travel insurance cover for volcanic ash and whether it’s worth adding it to your travel insurance policy.

The most important thing to remember about travel insurance cover for volcanic ash is that you must have purchased your travel insurance before the volcano erupted in order to be covered.

A number of Air New Zealand flights have been disrupted due to the volcanic ash cloud which is currently heading east towards the Pacific Ocean.

Mount Tongariro is one of three volcanoes situated in the centre of the North Island. It became active last night, spewing rocks, steam and volcanic ash into the sky.

Local experts have admitted that the volcanic eruption has caught them by surprise this time. The volcano has been dormant for over 100 years and although they had detected a small amount of seismic activity over recent weeks, they were not expecting the volcano to erupt and produce a volcanic ash cloud.

The unexpected nature of this volcanic eruption and the disruption caused by the resulting ash cloud highlights the issue of what you can do if your flights is delayed or cancelled due to volcanic ash.

In 2010 the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud caused massive disruption across Europe, at the time this type of disruption was not covered by many travel insurance policies and travellers had to rely on their airlines and tour operators to get them home.

Since then, travel insurance providers have responded by making Volcanic Ash cloud or Natural Catastrophe cover available to add to their standard travel insurance policies.

These types of travel insurance add-ons generally provide additional cover so that you can cancel your holiday and make a claim for the cost if your flight is disrupted before you leave home, plus it can sometimes pay for the additional expense of finding alternative transport home if your airline does not provide you with something suitable.

Volcanic ash cover will vary with different travel insurance providers so you should always read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy carefully to check exactly what is covered.

The most important thing to remember is that In order to be covered for volcanic ash cloud disruption you must have bought your travel insurance with the volcanic ash cloud cover before a volcano erupts.  So if you are about to fly to New Zealand’s North Island it’s too late to be covered for disruption from this particular eruption, but as you never know when the next volcano will erupt it could be worth adding volcanic ash cover to your next travel insurance policy.

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Mt Etna eruption sparks volcanic ash cloud fears

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By , January 6, 2012 4:56 pm
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Mount Etna, one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, started erupting on Wednesday night, sending volcanic ash and lava high in to the sky.

Mount Etna erupts fairly regularly, usually for several days and sometimes causing the closure of the nearby Catania airport in Sicily.

Currently flights are not being affected by this volcanic eruption.

For the latest information on air travel within Europe follow @eurocontrol on twitter.

Read our related posts to see how travel insurance can cover volcanic ash and your rights with your airline.

Travel insurance and Volcanic Ash

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Travel insurance and volcanic ash

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By , November 28, 2011 1:17 pm
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Under EU and UK regulations, your airline or tour operator has a legal obligation to reschedule or refund your flight/holiday and provide meals and accommodation if an overnight stay is necessary.

Travel insurance is not supposed to duplicate what the airlines or tour operators should offer automatically. Therefore if your flight or holiday is affected by volcanic ash, your first stop for information and compensation should be your airline or tour operator.

travel insurance volcanic ash

Check out our volcanic ash infographic for facts and figures about volcanic ash flight disruption and travel insurance

There are however some sections of your travel insurance policy that might be able to provide additional help.

Stranded abroad? Your travel insurance cover will be extended

If you unable to return to the UK when you planned due to volcanic ash, most travel insurance providers will extend your cover free of charge until you can return to the UK. This means that you will still have cover for emergency medical costs, personal possessions and money etc. until you are able to return home.

What about Natural Catastrophe Cover?

Natural Catastrophe Cover, which could also be known as Natural Disaster Cover or Airspace Closure Cover was introduced by travel insurance providers in response to the volcanic ash cloud crisis in April 2010.

It is designed to provide additional travel insurance cover to customers in the event of a natural disaster, such as a volcanic eruption, ash cloud, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods, causing disruption to your holiday.

It is generally an additional option to a travel insurance policy rather than being included as standard, because if you book package holiday, you should be well looked after by your tour operator so may not want to pay for extra cover that you don’t need.

Natural Catastrophe cover is a particularly good option to cover volcanic ash disruption if you have booked elements of your holiday independently. It can cover the costs of unused prepaid accommodation and other holiday services if your flight has been cancelled due to a natural catastrophe, such as volcanic ash, and you were unable to get to your destination.

It can also allow you to claim the cost of alternative travel arrangements if your flight is delayed or cancelled due to volcanic ash and no alternative is provided to you within a specific time period, sometimes just 24 hours.

This type of travel insurance cover is very new and the terms and conditions will vary with different insurance providers so you should check the policy wording carefully for details.

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Volcanic Ash Flight Disruption: What are your rights?

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By , November 28, 2011 1:04 pm
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In the event that your holiday or flight is disrupted due to volcanic ash contact your airline or tour operator in the first instance, they should be able to tell if your flight is affected and what the likely delay will be. If your flight is disrupted you have certain rights as detailed below:

travel insurance volcanic ash

Check out our volcanic ash infographic for facts and figures about volcanic ash flight disruption and travel insurance

Booked flights direct with the airline

What if your outbound flights is affected?

When you booked your flights you entered into a contract with the airline to get you from A to B. If they are unable to provide the journey as booked, they have a duty to re-route or reschedule your journey.

If you think your flight might be affected the first thing you should do is contact the airline for the latest information.

If your flight is affected you should get the choice of transferring to another flight or a full refund. There should be no administration charge for changing your flight, and no extra charge if the new flight was more expensive.

Be aware that if you have booked your flights and accommodation separately your airline has to reschedule or refund your flights, but your accommodation supplier is under no obligation to reschedule or refund your accommodation.

To avoid being in this situation you could either buy travel insurance with natural catastrophe cover, which should provide cover for unused accommodation if your flight is cancelled due to volcanic ash. Or, book a package holiday, in which case your tour operator would have to reschedule or refund the whole holiday.

What if you are stranded abroad?

With the Europe there are strict rules in place for airlines to follow if a flight is cancelled or delayed for more than 5 hours. The airline must provide meals and refreshments and accommodation if an overnight stay is required.

These rules apply if you are flying within the EU, if you are flying into the EU from overseas on a European airline and if you are on a non-EU airline leaving from an EU airport.

If you are flying on non-EU carriers from outside the EU you are entitled to a refund or rescheduled flight, under different regulations, but may not be entitled to claim back food and accommodation costs.

Some things to keep in mind:

There should be no time limit on their provision of accommodation and food, even though it adds to the financial pressure on airlines.

If passengers have organised their own return travel or hotel stays, they should apply to the airline for the money back when they return. But if these are costs are “unreasonable” then the airline will not pay. Alternative return transport organised by airlines will be safest as there will be no need to pay out and claim back – unless you have extra insurance that will cover this.

Beware if you are on a “codesharing flight”. If you are on a “codesharing flights” you get the rights given to passengers of the airline you actually fly on irrespective of the ticket you hold. Eg. a passenger with a BA ticket travelling on an American Airlines flight into the EU would not be entitled to the assistance, whereas a passenger on a BA flight with an American Airlines ticket travelling into the EU would. All passengers, whatever ticket they hold and airline they fly with, are entitled to assistance on flights departing the EU

If you have 2 single tickets rather than a return your rights are the same.

If you do end up stranded overseas, don’t go mad just because you think the airline is paying for food and accommodation. Airlines can refuse a claim for costs if they deem them to be ‘unreasonable’.

Booked a package holiday

In terms of financial protection and support booking a package holiday with a bonded tour operator will beat booking independently.

If something happens before you depart for your holiday tour operators will generally give you three options:

– Defer the start date of your holiday

– Transfer to another holiday of the same or similar value

– Provide a refund for the cost of the whole holiday

This potentially leaves you in a much better situation than if you have booked elements of your holiday independently where you might find that you can the airline can reschedule or refund your flights, but you are still stuck with your original accommodation booking with a hotel abroad who are under no obligation to change your booking or provide a refund.

If you are stranded overseas due to volcanic ash, your tour operator should arrange alternative accommodation and flights for you as required and ensure that you return safely back to the UK as soon as possible.

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Volcanic Ash: How big is the threat to your holiday?

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By , November 28, 2011 12:49 pm
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Before April 2010, and the eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland, flight disruption due to volcanic ash was almost unheard of in the UK. Since then, there seems to be a constant threat of volcanic ash from erupting volcanoes grounding flights around the world.

travel insurance volcanic ash

Check out our volcanic ash infographic for facts and figures about volcanic ash flight disruption and travel insurance

May 2011 saw the eruption of another volcano in Iceland, Mt Grimsvortn, which again disrupted flights for several days, but fortunately, due to more favourable weather conditions and updated guidelines from the CAA, the disruption was not as widespread as the previous year.

In June 2011, a volcanic ash cloud from an eruption in the Puyehue Cordon Caulle volcano chain in southern Chile caused significant disruption to air travel around Australia and New Zealand. A number of Australia’s major domestic carriers which include Qantas and Virgin suspended or cancelled flights.

Further disruption was caused 4 months later, in October, when volcanic ash from the earlier eruption was stirred up by high winds, causing the suspension of flights in Argentina and Uruguay.

Add to that two more volcanoes in Iceland which have been threatening to erupt over recent weeks and months. Fears over the possible eruption of Hekla were voiced in July and in October a series of earthquakes were detected around the Katla volcano which could indicate an imminent eruption. Records show that Katla usually has a large eruption twice a century. Since its last eruption was almost exactly 93 years ago, it is long overdue for another, seismologists say.

Prior to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud of April 2010, aircraft engine manufacturers had not defined specific particle levels above which engines were considered to be at risk. The general approach taken by airspace regulators was that if the volcanic ash concentration rose above zero, then the airspace was considered unsafe and was consequently closed.

During the volcanic ash crisis of April 2010, the CAA in conjunction with engine manufacturers, were forced to set new guidelines which allowed aircraft to fly when there are levels of volcanic ash between 200 and 2000 microgrammes of ash per cubic metre, so long as appropriate maintenance and ash inspection proceedures were followed.

To minimise further disruption caused by volcanic ash the CAA also created a new category of restricted airspace called a Time Limited Zone, where restrictions are put in place for a short period of time and airlines must produce certificates of compliance in order to enter these areas.

Although the severe disruption due to volcanic ash seen in April 2010 is unlikely to happen again due to these changes in restrictions making blanket closures of airspace improbable, flights continue to be disrupted by volcanic ash across the world.

Is there really more of a threat to our travel now than in the past or are we just more aware of it? It’s hard to tell, but either way, it pays to be protected and know where you stand if your holiday is disrupted by a volcanic ash cloud.

Check out our Volcanic Ash Travel Disruption Infographic for some quick facts and figures on volcanic ash flight disruption, your rights and travel insurance for volcanic ash.

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Volcanic Ash Infographic: Flight disruption, Your rights, Travel Insurance

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By , November 28, 2011 12:44 pm
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Check out our Volcanic Ash Travel Disruption Infographic for some quick facts and figures on volcanic ash flight disruption, your rights, the responsibilities of airlines and tour operators, plus how can travel insurance help with volcanic ash flight disruption.

Volcanic Ash Travel Disruption Infographic - quick facts and figures on volcanic ash flight disruption, your rights, the responsibilities of airlines and tour operators, plus how can travel insurance help with volcanic ash flight disruption.

Volcanic Ash Travel Disruption Infographic - quick facts and figures on volcanic ash flight disruption, your rights, the responsibilities of airlines and tour operators, plus how can travel insurance help with volcanic ash flight disruption.

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