ABI Advises Travelers After Latest Volcano Ash Cloud Disrupts Flights

May 10, 2010

Heightened eruptions from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused periodic closures of a number of European airports, as flights were cancelled, delayed or rerouted. Transatlantic air traffic between Europe and the U.S. was also affected by the clouds of ash, which swept over parts of Europe from Portugal and Spain in the South to the UK and Scandinavia.

With the volcano showing no signs of quieting down any time soon, travelers going to, coming from, or flying within Europe are being advised to take precautions before heading to the airport.

The Association of British Insurers has produced a list of precautions that should be taken, as well as summarizing what relief may be available to stranded passengers, and the various terms and conditions applying to travel insurance policies.

First off the ABI said: “Contact your airline or the airport you are due to be flying from to check the latest information about your travel arrangements. Airlines should offer you either a full refund of your unused ticket or an alternative flight. EU based airlines are required to offer you accommodation and meals if you are delayed getting home.”

In addition the ABI explained that “if your flight is cancelled and you do not travel, insurers will refund your premium if you took out a single trip policy. If you accept an alternative flight at a later date, travel insurers will amend your insurance policy to cover the changed dates of travel – contact your insurer to arrange this.”

It’s also important to “check your travel insurance policy for any cover that may be available. While volcanic eruption is not a specific insured risk and terms and conditions vary between policies, some cover for delay and subsequent travel abandonment may be available. Payment for any delay, whether outward or return, is usually a fixed sum for a specified delayed period up to a maximum figure.”

In addition the ABI noted that “some insurers are currently making claims on a goodwill basis – check with your insurer for details. People who have taken out policies since the date of the original airspace closure (April 15th) and whose travel plans are affected by the latest closures, should contact their insurer for advice on cover availability.”

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Heath, explained: “Most policies are designed to stand alongside, and not duplicate, the compensation that people are entitled to from their airline or tour operator. Any cover provided by travel insurance in these circumstances will vary as there is no such thing as a standard travel insurance policy. Customers should therefore check their travel policy and speak to their travel insurer if they are still unsure.”

The ABI also noted that “travel insurers expect to pay around £62 million [$93 million] following disruption caused by the recent closure of airspace. This represents 16 percent of the annual amount paid out by UK travel insurers.”

Source: Association of British Insurers

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