So You Think You Don’t Need Travel Insurance? Natural Disasters Might Change Your Mind

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According to a fascinating article in Popular Science, if a hurricane slams into land where no one lives, it isn’t a disaster; it’s weather. It’s only a disaster when a natural hazard meets a human population. In 2017, this happened quite a lot. In fact, it was a bumper year for natural disasters, with weather and climate-related disasters hitting almost every continent in the world. In September alone, Tropical Storm Nate slammed into Central and South America, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Mexico, Hurricanes Maria and Irma swept through the Caribbean, and a pulmonary plague broke out in Madagascar.

travel insurance natural disastersIn addition to causing loss of life and billions of Dollars worth of damage, these events also posed severe challenges for those involved in travel insurance. Natural disasters frequently affect holidaymakers and business travellers to a greater or lesser degree. You might only experience a relatively minor inconvenience, such as your flight being cancelled or delayed. Alternatively, you could be severely injured, and need emergency medical assistance.

The Importance Of Travel Insurance

Natural disasters aren’t always predictable. They can strike with very little warning, leaving travellers stranded, or worse. This is why it’s so important to take out comprehensive travel insurance that specifically includes claims relating to natural disasters.

But be warned – not all travel insurance policies are created equal. Depending on the wording of your particular policy, you may actually not be covered in the event of a natural disaster and could be caught very short.

Many policies offer what they call “Travel Disruption Cover” but unless specific events are mentioned – such as hurricane, volcanic eruption or tsunami, for example – you may not be covered. When a volcano erupted in Iceland back in 2010, stranding thousands of travellers for days due to a pervasive ash cloud, many were caught out because their travel insurance policy didn’t actually mention the word “volcano.” They were thus forced to bear the costs of additional accommodation and lost flights themselves.

The timing of your cover is also important – if your policy was purchased before the possibility of a storm or eruption was announced, you should be alright. Once the incident is reported in the news, it becomes a known event. Any policy you purchase after this will not cover you for any costs incurred as a result.

What Should Your Policy Cover?

When it comes to taking out comprehensive travel insurance, natural disasters are mentioned in greater or lesser detail, depending on your policy. This is why it’s imperative that you read every word – especially the small print – very carefully. To ensure you’re adequately covered, make sure your policy mentions all possible natural disasters by name, and covers you for the following:

  • Cancellation fees and lost deposits for pre-paid travel and accommodation.
  • Alternative accommodation should your existing accommodation be rendered uninhabitable.
  • Travel and accommodation expenses if your scheduled or connecting transport is delayed, cancelled or diverted.
  • Evacuation costs for medical or safety reasons.

When Are You NOT Covered?

Even the most carefully worded and well-researched travel insurance policy won’t cover you for unreasonable behaviour. If, for example, you ignore government- travel warnings issued in response to a natural disaster, your insurance company may regard this as negligent and reckless. Any claim you then try to make may well be invalidated.

It’s also important to be aware of the difference between a natural disaster and simple bad weather. When it comes to travel insurance, natural disasters are very specific events. Lack of great powder on the ski slopes, or rainy weather throughout your beach holiday, do not qualify. Just because something ruins your holiday doesn’t make it a disaster – at least not from an insurance point of view!

CC&A Insurance Brokers provide comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for everything from lost luggage to natural disasters, and everything in between. For advice you can trust, and policies you can rely on, contact us today.