Volcanic Ash Cover

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When the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud descended in April 2010, many thousands of holidaymakers experienced disruptions and cancellations to their holidays. Many holidaymakers wondered how they would get home or had to watch helplessly as their expensive pre arranged holidays went to waste.

A sizeable percentage of these travelers considered that they were covered for the delays caused by the volcano erupting. However, this occurrence highlighted the huge gaps in most policies.Volcanic Ash Cover

When the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud descended in April 2010, many thousands of holidaymakers experienced disruptions and cancellations to their holidays. Many holidaymakers wondered how they would get home or had to watch helplessly as their expensive pre arranged holidays went to waste.

A sizeable percentage of these travelers considered that they were covered for the delays caused by the volcano erupting. However, this occurrence highlighted the huge gaps in most policies.

In 2010 the word “volcano” did not appear in travel insurance policies. A handful of insurance companies paid out to those who underwent delays due to the ash cloud. However, many insurers refused to do so.

Many consumers found that they could not make claims for costs like alternative travel arrangements as well as additional accommodation under their cover.

Many policies did not cover extreme weather events or natural disasters, so, customers were uncertain of which features they were covered for and which they were not covered for.

Once again in 2011 there were concerns of a repeat of the ash cloud madness. Thankfully these concerns did not materialise. However, what emerged was that numerous insurers had tightened their approach regarding claims for travel disruption due to volcanic ash.

What level of cover do Volcanic Ash Insurance policies provide?

Due to the extent of travel chaos caused in 2010, holidaymakers are quite correct in wanting to know whether or not cover for volcanic ash disruption is covered by their policy. Today, this is still unclear.

2010 saw several insurance companies offering ex gratia payments to policyholders for costs incurred due to cancellations when an airline or travel agent decided not to pay out.

However, policyholders who have policies with the same insurers are not now covered for disruption due to closure of British airspace, as these insurance companies are presently insisting that the airlines have to provide compensation in these cases.

Check the details with your insurance company

It is highly advisable to pinpoint what level of “travel disruption cover” your present travel insurance policy provides before you travel, as levels of cover differ greatly between insurers. Furthermore, should you be buying a new policy, shop around for one that includes additional cover for airspace closure.

What ought to happen?

There have not been any further incidences of disruption due to volcanic ash in recent months. Nonetheless, should you be planning a trip abroad, it is vital that you know what you need to do should your trip be disrupted due to volcanic ash.

What should my first port of call be?

When on holiday, your first port of call regarding claiming costs due to any disruption ought to be your airline or tour operator.

Of note is that when the ash cloud travel chaos descended in 2010, certain airlines placed very low budget caps of a minimal £25 per day per individual to cover food and accommodation for holidaymakers stuck overseas.

Do I have any protection for my package deal?

Should you be travelling on a package deal, the tour operators are obliged to deliver the promised holiday; they need to reimburse you with any money should any trips be cancelled. Moreover, they are responsible for enabling customers to get home should an airline fail.

Should the tour company you have booked with go under, the ATOL (The Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) bonding scheme means other travel companies get together to get stranded travelers back home.

It may be you also get some protection from ABTA (The Association of British Travel Agents), given that it runs an arbitration scheme between its member travel agents and holidaymakers.

ABTA, like ATOL, exists to help you should your travel agent fail, or should your holiday become disrupted. However, it does not provide financial protection for holidays which involve flying.

Should you book your flights, accommodation and any extras like car hire or excursions separately, you are not covered in the same way should there be disruption from volcanic ash.

What happens should my flight be cancelled?

  • Should your flights be cancelled, the airline is responsible for refunding or rebooking the flights under European law.
  • This is applicable to all airlines based in the EU; this is also applicable to airlines outside the EU which take off or land in the EU.
  • Firstly, you ought to have a choice of refund or new flight as soon as possible without paying anything extra.

Where you have no option, the airline ought to provide you with hotel accommodation, meals and refreshments until you can get on a new flight, with no time or financial limits.

Holidaymakers who organise their own return travel or hotel stays ought to apply to the airline in question for a refund upon their return. However, note that the airline is only going to fork out for costs considered “reasonable”.

Moreover, passengers flying on non EU carriers from outside the EU are entitled to a refund or to be rebooked on a new flight under alternative regulations. However, they might need to claim from their insurance company for food and hotel costs.

Is my insurance company going to pay out?

Just as with all insurance, the detail is in what is covered by each policy. Insurance companies have differing policies with regard to natural disasters, therefore, you need to scrutinise the small print.

In 2010, certain insurance companies covered the disruption due to the ash cloud as a goodwill gesture. Other insurers applied the standard rules delayed departure rules, whereby customers were able to could claim after a 12 hour delay. Certain cheaper policy providers did not pay out.

In the future if you are caught in volcanic ash travel chaos and your insurance company refuses to pay out claiming that it is an exclusion from the policy, request a written explanation referencing the relevant policy clause.

Should you not be happy with your insurance company’s response, you ought to lodge a formal complaint. The insurer has to respond in eight weeks. You can take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service thereafter.

Is my insurance company going to cover the extra costs when I am stranded overseas?

The travel disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud highlighted gaping holes in specific policies, with a great many holidaymakers discovering that they were unable to claim for costs for alternative travel arrangements and extra accommodation.

Multiple insurance companies refused to cover policyholders for flight cancellation, and merely advised them to get in touch with the airline.

Overall, with travel insurance you receive what you pay for. Hence, a policy which costs just £10 is going to cover the very basics. A key reason why premiums are so low is that the majority of policies are designed to cover “specified risks”, not “all risks”. Selecting a policy just based on price can mean expensive losses should you have to make a claim.

The answer is to shop around; ensure that you get a comprehensive insurance policy which provides the appropriate level of cover for you, protecting you against multiple eventualities.

A quality policy is going to insure you for delays, scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure, which will offer you total peace of mind.

In 2010 the word “volcano” did not appear in travel insurance policies. A handful of insurance companies paid out to those who underwent delays due to the ash cloud. However, many insurers refused to do so.

Many consumers found that they could not make claims for costs like alternative travel arrangements as well as additional accommodation under their cover.

Many policies did not cover extreme weather events or natural disasters, so, customers were uncertain of which features they were covered for and which they were not covered for.

Once again in 2011 there were concerns of a repeat of the ash cloud madness. Thankfully these concerns did not materialise. However, what emerged was that numerous insurers had tightened their approach regarding claims for travel disruption due to volcanic ash.

Can I get compensation?

Should the airline not have provided assistance, you are entitled to claim a refund on any arrangements you make yourself from your insurance company upon your return home. However, remember keep all your receipts and your spending to a minimum

When the ash cloud chaos struck in 2010, the majority of people stranded overseas attempted to claim compensation for costs from their insurance company upon their return. However, these were refused on the grounds that the insurers claimed that the eruption was an “Act of God”. So these holidaymakers were not reimbursed for alternative travel arrangements, longer hotel stays, car hire and transfers

Is my Insurance Company going to pay out?

Just as with all insurance, the detail is in what is covered by each policy. Insurance companies have differing policies with regard to natural disasters, therefore, you need to scrutinise the small print.

In 2010, certain insurance companies covered the disruption due to the ash cloud as a goodwill gesture. Other insurers applied the standard rules delayed departure rules, whereby customers were able to could claim after a 12 hour delay. Certain cheaper policy providers did not pay out.

In the future if you are caught in volcanic ash travel chaos and your insurance company refuses to pay out claiming that it is an exclusion from the policy, request a written explanation referencing the relevant policy clause.

Should you not be happy with your insurance company’s response, you ought to lodge a formal complaint. The insurer has to respond in eight weeks. You can take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service thereafter.

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Is my insurance company going to cover the extra costs when I am stranded overseas?

The travel disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud highlighted gaping holes in specific policies, with a great many holidaymakers discovering that they were unable to claim for costs for alternative travel arrangements and extra accommodation.

Multiple insurance companies refused to cover policyholders for flight cancellation, and merely advised them to get in touch with the airline.

Overall, with travel insurance you receive what you pay for. Hence, a policy which costs just £10 is going to cover the very basics. A key reason why premiums are so low is that the majority of policies are designed to cover “specified risks”, not “all risks”. Selecting a policy just based on price can mean expensive losses should you have to make a claim.

The answer is to shop around; ensure that you get a comprehensive insurance policy which provides the appropriate level of cover for you, protecting you against multiple eventualities.

A quality policy is going to insure you for delays, scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure, which will offer you total peace of mind.

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