The epic volcanic eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010 is still burned into the memories of many travelers and travel service providers. The clouds of volcanic ash spewed from Eyjafjallajökull created travel chaos and forced the cancellation of a huge number of European and intercontinental flights. Millions of passengers were affected.
Iceland is well known for its seismic activity. More recently, Icelandic authorities have warned about the possible eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano.
But other countries like Italy, the Philippines and the USA – to name a few – are also hotspots of volcanic activity.
What to do if your flight is cancelled
In the event that your flight is cancelled, make sure to contact your airline, hotels at which you are booked, and your travel agent if applicable. Depending on the specific circumstances, your agreement and the details of your booking, you may have a right to change your bookings or to receive compensation. It’s unlikely that you will be reimbursed for hotel bookings.
If you have taken out a life insurance policy, make sure to contact your insurer. Depending on the circumstances, your travel insurance may be your only hope for compensation.
Careful: Volcanic eruptions are typically excluded
Many travel insurance policies make allowances for natural catastrophes but specifically exclude volcanic eruptions. That’s why the moneyland.ch travel insurance comparison includes a filter which lets you sort trip cancellation and travel assistance (trip interruption) insurance policies based on the hazards they cover, including volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
The exact terms and conditions of a policy are the deciding factor in whether or not you receive compensation. When push comes to shove, don’t expect your insurer to be particularly accommodating.
Examples of travel insurance policies which allow for volcanic eruptions include Generali Assistance, Mobiliar, the ETI protection plan from TCS, Intertours by Axa Winterthur and Assistance from Zurich. Some insurers like Europäische ERV offer supplementary travel insurance which specifically covers volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters.
Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance due to volcanic activity
Swiss travel insurers generally differentiate between trip cancellation insurance and travel assistance (trip interruption) insurance, and you can usually obtain these either as a bundled package or as separate policies. Trip cancellation insurance covers your travel investments ahead of a trip, while travel assistance insurance cover your cancellations during your trip.
Example: If your flight is cancelled ahead of your trip due to volcanic activity, your insurer will compensate you as long as your travel insurance covers volcanic eruptions. If a part of your trip (your return flight, for example) is cancelled during your trip, your losses will normally be covered by your travel assistance insurance.
Volcanic erruption coverage: What compensation do you get?
Different policies provide different levels of coverage. Trip cancellation benefits cover cancellation costs and administrative tasks. The majority of policies, by far, do not cover the cost of making new travel bookings to replace the cancelled trip. Tickets and entry fees for an event or activity normally aren’t covered. Comparing travel insurance policies ahead of your trip is always recommended.
Volcanic eruption coverage from credit cards
Some credit cards provide you with travel insurance coverage. This coverage normally only applies when you use the card to pay for at least part of your travel expenses.
Additionally, when compared to conventional travel insurance policies, credit card insurance often provides relatively low levels of coverage. Make sure to read the portion of your credit card agreement dealing with travel insurance coverage carefully or ask your credit card issuer directly.
Report cancellations immediately
It’s absolutely crucial that you report flight cancellations to your insurer in a prompt manner. Most insurance companies only pay benefits for claims that are reported within a limited time-frame.
The moneyland.ch team