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volcanic ash travel insurance

Volcanic Ash Travel Insurance

We review the Travel Insurance policies designed to cover volcanic ash cloud and strike delays


Columbus Direct
  • Cover for Travel Delay, Abandonment and Missed Departure as a result of volcanic ash
  • Option to cover extra risks through Emergency Travel Cover upgrade
  • Online Screening for pre existing medical conditions
  • Total payable for all insured persons under this policy is £4,000
  • Annual or Single Trip Policies with extra MoneyMaxim discounts (see left)
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www.columbus-direct.com/volcanic

Direct Travel
  • Up to £6000 of additional cover
  • Provides benefits for unrecoverable costs for natural disasters (not strikes)
  • Can provide some code even after an event is known about (see left)
  • Online Screening for pre existing medical conditions
  • Single and Annual Multi Trip policies
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www.directtravel.co.uk/naturaldisasters

John Lewis Travel Insurance
  • Up to £300 - £600 of delay cover (depending on policy taken)
  • Volcanic ash is not included as an insured risk
  • No 'Get you home cover'
  • Annual and Single Trip Cover
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www.johnlewisinsurance.com/volcanic

Aviva Travel Insurance
  • Airspace Closure Cover provides benefits for delays both on departure and return to UK.
  • Also available is Travel Disruption Cover, which can cover strikes, pandemics and other perils.
  • No cover for Pre Existing Medical Conditions
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www.aviva.co.uk/ti-airspaceclosure

Travel Insurance which covered the risks relating to the possibility of travel disruption from volcanic ash clouds or strike action is often sought after. Unfortunately this is often after an event has occurred (such as an volcanic eruption or strike being announced), and then travellers options are more limited (see Direct Travel below who provide some cover post event).

Following the three major volcanic eruptions in Iceland since Spring 2010, an, as the time of writing in Bali, Lombok and East Java in Indonesia there has been a surge of interest in travel insurance policies which will cover ash clouds, strikes and port or airport closures generally. Given the fact that such events appear to be occurring more regularly, and that they can last for a considerable period (the Chilean volcano which erupted in 2011 caused disruption to flights over 5 month period. The current Mount Raung eruption in Indonesia started on the 24th June, caused airspace closures around the 7th July, and is expected to get much worse if, as expected, there is a major eruption. Hence canny travellers are ensuring that their insurance policy covers them for such eventualities, especially as they arrive so quickly, and therefore reduce options for holidaymakers to cover themselves once an eruption has occurred.

Many insurers have now excluded cover for 'Volcanic Ash' incidents unless specific cover is taken. We have however seen the following firms supporting those requiring such insurance for a number of years. Columbus, Aviva and Direct were some of the small band of insurers who were 'quibble' free insurers when it came to claims from the Icelandic eruption in 2010.

Do be aware that if you are taking a package holiday your tour operator will be responsible for looking after you and getting you home. However the more comprehensive of the policies listed below are ideal for the growing number of travellers who book flights and accommodation independently.

Annual Policies

CompanyProductExisting Medical Condition CoverCover for Known EventsCover for Alternative Transport HomeAbandonment BenefitDelay BenefitVolcanic Ash Upgrade CostMore Info
Columbus DirectAnnual Gold inc. Volcanic Ash and Emergency Travel optionsOptionalNoYesYesYes£20.00Find out more...

Volcanic Ash Cover includes cover for Travel Delay, Abandonment and Missed Departure as a result of volcanic ash, up to the limit stated on your policy schedule. If Volcanic Ash Cover is not taken then no claims arising as a result of volcanic ash will be eligible.

Volcanic Ash Cover and Emergency Travel Cover includes both Volcanic Ash Cover as above and an Emergency Travel Upgrade which provides additional cover in the event of unforeseen circumstances preventing your return home for at least 24 hours from your booked return journey. Pays up to to £1,500 for alternative accommodation or alternative emergency reasonable transport expenses. Total payable for all insured persons under this policy is £4,000.

Direct TravelAnnual inc. Volcanic Ash optionOptionalOptionalYesYesYes£20.40Find out more...

Up to £6000 of additional cover. Price applies to each adult in the party

Provides benefits for unrecoverable costs for natural disasters (not strikes), including accommodation and alternative travel.

Single Trip policyholders - if at the time of purchasing this insurance you are due to depart on your trip within the next 7 days, and a natural catastrophe has occurred which may directly result in a claim under this insurance, the amounts in the companies table of benefits will be reduced by 75%.

Annual Multi-Trip policyholders - if at the time of purchasing this insurance or booking your trip, whichever is the later, you are due to depart on your trip within the next 7 days, and a natural catastrophe has occurred which may directly result in a claim under this insurance, the amounts in the companies table of benefits will be reduced by 75%.

John LewisAnnual with limited inclusive Volcanic Ash CoverOptionalNoNoYesYes£0.00Find out more...

John Lewis do not exclude claims for volcanic ash incidents. They will cover travel delay to a maximum of £600 and also abandonment claims if prior to leaving the UK. They do not provide 'get you home cover'.

AvivaAnnual inc Airspace Closure CoverOptionalNoYesYesYes£10.00Find out more...

Airspace Closure Cover

Provides up to £5,000 extended cancellation cover if, when due to depart from the UK, you can't because airspace is closed for more than 24 hours or an airport or port that you are scheduled to travel from or through is closed for more than 24 hours from time of your scheduled departure. Also if you are unable to return home on your scheduled return date for the same reasons, a benefit is paid for each 24 hours you can't return, or reasonable travel expenses, if after 24 hours, you unavoidably have to make immediate alternative travel arrangements to return home.

Travel Disruption Cover

A further add on from Aviva costing £5.00 provides extended cancellation and abandonment cover for a range of events including, amongst others, strikes and snowfall, pandemics and food poisoning in your holiday accommodation.

Price applies per adult in the party and will be slightly cheaper if you use the attached link and buy online.

Columbus DirectAnnual Silver inc. Volcanic Ash optionOptionalNoNoYesYes£12.00Find out more...

Volcanic Ash Cover includes cover for Travel Delay, Abandonment and Missed Departure as a result of volcanic ash, up to the limit stated on your policy schedule. If Volcanic Ash Cover is not taken then no claims arising as a result of volcanic ash will be eligible.

Single Trip Policies

CompanyProductExisting Medical Condition CoverCover for Known EventsCover for Alternative Transport HomeAbandonment BenefitDelay BenefitVolcanic Ash Upgrade CostMore Info
Columbus DirectSingle Trip Gold inc Volcanic Ash and Emergency Travel optionOptionalNoYesYesYes£12.50Find out more...

Volcanic Ash Cover includes cover for Travel Delay, Abandonment and Missed Departure as a result of volcanic ash, up to the limit stated on your policy schedule. If Volcanic Ash Cover is not taken then no claims arising as a result of volcanic ash will be eligible.

Volcanic Ash Cover and Emergency Travel Cover includes both Volcanic Ash Cover as above and an Emergency Travel Upgrade which provides additional cover in the event of unforeseen circumstances preventing your return home for at least 24 hours from your booked return journey. Pays up to to £1,500 for alternative accommodation or alternative emergency reasonable transport expenses. Total payable for all insured persons under this policy is £4,000.

Direct TravelSingle Trip inc. Volcanic Ash optionOptionalOptionalYesYesYes£10.20Find out more...

Up to £6000 of additional cover. Price applies to each adult in the party.

Provides benefits for unrecoverable costs for natural disasters (not strikes), including accommodation and alternative travel.

Single Trip policyholders if at the time of purchasing this insurance you are due to depart on your trip within the next 7 days, and a natural catastrophe has occurred which may directly result in a claim under this insurance, the amounts in the companies table of benefits will be reduced by 75%.

Annual Multi-Trip policyholders if at the time of purchasing this insurance or booking your trip, whichever is the later, you are due to depart on your trip within the next 7 days, and a natural catastrophe has occurred which may directly result in a claim under this insurance, the amounts in the companies table of benefits will be reduced by 75%.

John LewisSingle Trip with limited inclusive Volcanic Ash CoverOptionalNoNoYesYes£0.00Find out more...

John Lewis do not exclude claims for volcanic ash incidents. They will cover travel delay to a maximum of £600 and also abandonment claims if prior to leaving the UK. They do not provide 'get you home cover'.

AvivaSingle Trip inc. Airspace Closure CoverOptionalNoYesYesYes£5.00Find out more...

Airspace Closure Cover

Provides up to £5,000 extended cancellation cover if, when due to depart from the UK, you can't because airspace is closed for more than 24 hours or an airport or port that you are scheduled to travel from or through is closed for more than 24 hours from time of your scheduled departure. Also if you are unable to return home on your scheduled return date for the same reasons, a benefit is paid for each 24 hours you can't return, or reasonable travel expenses, if after 24 hours, you unavoidably have to make immediate alternative travel arrangements to return home.

Travel Disruption Cover

A further add on from Aviva costing £2.50 provides extended cancellation and abandonment cover for a range of events including, amongst others, strikes and snowfall, pandemics and food poisoning in your holiday accommodation.

Price applies per adult in the party and will be slightly cheaper if you use the attached link and buy online.

Columbus DirectSingle Trip Silver inc. Volcanic Ash optionOptionalNoNoYesYes£8.00Find out more...

Volcanic Ash Cover includes cover for Travel Delay, Abandonment and Missed Departure as a result of volcanic ash, up to the limit stated on your policy schedule. If Volcanic Ash Cover is not taken then no claims arising as a result of volcanic ash will be eligible.

Following the three major volcanic eruptions in Iceland since Spring 2010 there has been a surge of interest in travel insurance policies which will cover ash clouds, strikes and port or airport closures generally. Given the fact that such events appear to be occurring more regularly, and that they can last for a considerable period (the Chilean volcano which erupted in 2011 caused disruption to flights over 5 month period) many travellers are ensuring that their insurance policy covers them for such eventualities, especially as they arrive so quickly, and do not allow travellers options to cover themselves once they are known about. At the same time most insurers have now excluded cover for 'Volcanic Ash' incidents unless specific cover is taken.

Travellers do need to be aware that although the laws relating to airlines responsibilities have been clarified and tightened recently if you are stranded following a volcanic ash event this doesn't mean your hard earned cash is not at risk if you fall foul of such an event. Some of the main ways you can still be out of pocket include:

  • Your flight from the UK is cancelled due to an eruption - you may be reimbursed for your ticket cost, but other expenses such as your hotel bill, car rental, cruise ship costs may not be paid if you fail to show up as arranged.
  • Your flight may not be covered by EU legislation - rights only apply on any flight from an EU airport and those to EU airports from outside of the European Union on an EU airline. (EU in this definition includes all EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.)
  • "Codesharing flights" passengers get the same rights as passengers of the airline they travel never mind who issued the ticket. So a passenger with a BA ticket travelling on an American Airlines flight into the EU would not be entitled to the assistance.
  • If you have two separate tickets rather than a through ticket (i.e. two single tickets covering your journey) if you miss your second flight due to a delay on your first you may still have to pay for any rearranged travel arrangements from your transit airport.
  • Add on insurance policies can give you more opportunity to make your own arrangements rather than having to reley on the efficency of your airline - but do discuss your plans with your insurer before going solo!

We detail below some of the insurers who now off these 'add ons' which can, as well as covering volcanic ash cover previously unknown risks including natural disasters, volcanic ash clouds, wildcat strikes, flu pandemics and more besides - as long of course you 'add them on'.

Columbus Direct, Direct Travel, Aviva and Insure With Ease have developed these policies, all with slightly different levels of cover or points of difference - so read on!

Policies which provide 'extra cover' options

Columbus Travel

Special MoneyMaxim promotion - 5% off Annual Policies, 2% off Single Trip policies in addition to Columbus 10% online discount

Normally Columbus do not cover any claims for travel delay, abandonment, missed connections or missed departures as a result of Volcanic Ash. They do offer a Volcanic Ash upgrade to Silver policyholders which removes this restriction for such claims

Policyholders who buy the Columbus Direct Gold policy can upgrade to an option which offers both the Volcanic Ash upgrade and an Emergency Travel Upgrade which helps passengers pay for alternative ways home or emergency accommodation in case of being stranded overseas. The maximum claim per policy is £4,000 of expense.

Columbus will cover pre existing medical conditions.

See the Columbus Direct website for full information.

Direct Travel

Direct Travel have brought in an add on policy which offers extra cover in the case of a Natural Disaster. This policy covers cancellations, alternative means to get home, extra costs such as accommodation, car parking and kennel fees. Do note though that this policy does not come into force for strike action. Pre-existing medical conditions can now be covered.

Direct Travel also have a very clear policy as to when a natural disaster becomes a known event - broadly speaking reduced benefits apply for the first seven days after a policy is bought, but then full benefits apply - as always read their terms and conditions (there is also a restriction if you book a last minute holiday and are due to depart within seven days when a situation is 'live'). Its easy to check this is current as by calling them - you will hear a recorded message confirming this as current - although then buying online will be probably be a lot quicker than waiting for an operator!

Single Trip policyholders - if at the time of purchasing this insurance you are due to depart on your trip within the next 7 days, and a natural catastrophe has occurred which may directly result in a claim under this insurance, the amounts in the table of benefits will be reduced by 75%.

Annual Multi-Trip policyholders - if at the time of purchasing this insurance or booking your trip, whichever is the later, you are due to depart on your trip within the next 7 days, and a natural catastrophe has occurred which may directly result in a claim under this insurance, the amounts in the table of benefits will be reduced by 75%.

Full information can be found on the Direct Travel website.

John Lewis

John Lewis offer a very limited free cover for volcanic ash situations. They will provide cover under their delay and abandonment sections, but depending on the version of their policy you buy this is to a maximum of £600. They exclude cover for any claims that results from the tour operator, airline, or any other company, firm, or person not being able or not being willing to carry out any part of their obligation to you.

Maybe one to consider if you are going on a package holiday and are looking for a bit of extra reassurance, but are happy to leave the main responsibilities with your tour operator.

Visit the John Lewis website for more information.

AVIVA

Aviva have an upgrade policy, costing around £5 per single trip policy for each traveller, or £10 per traveller on annual policies (although for families they will only charge for a maximum of two children) that will cover 'closures of airports or ports' - for any reason from terrorism to the actions of a volcano, hurricane or pandemic. See our feature more information can be found in our feature on Aviva Travel - Volcanic Ash policies. Aviva cover those up to 79 years old, but don't cover pre existing medical conditions.

Aviva sell the upgrade online - click to say that you want their closure of port or airspace option - which means you also get a 10% online discount.

Provides additional cover for range of events that might cause disruption to your travel plans such as strikes (outbound leg only) snowfall, Foreign Office advice, food poisoning and pandemics. Cover is provided for:-

Extended Cancellation cover (£5,000)

Extended Abandonment cover (£5,000)

Missed Connections outside of the UK (£1,000)

Delay outside the UK (£25 every 12 hours)

Whilst strikes are not covered on the home bound leg the Aviva policy will provide its standard cover in this respect. If you want to have the option of having alternatives for a homeward leg if a strike is called by airline staff consider the Columbus policy.

Visit the Aviva website for full details.

So which policy is best for you? It really depends on the level of cover you want to take - Cancellation only, Cancellation and Get You Home / Extra Accommodation costs in case of a Natural Disaster, or whether you want the latter with Strike cover included too. Its really up to you!

This information is based on journalistic investigation and research. It is not financial advice. Any information should be considered in regard to specific circumstances. Any suggestions followed up are done so at your own risk and your own research is key.

This content was last reviewed on 10/07/2015

Image courtesy of: TeddyBear[Picnic] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net