Travel insurance offers coverage against injury, loss and damage, and these benefits extend to natural disasters under select scenarios. Here’s what your travel policy can (and cannot) do should a natural disaster mar your holiday plans.
While the chances of encountering a natural disaster while on holiday is thankfully rare, it is nevertheless a very real risk. And because you are a visitor in a foreign country, you will be at the mercy of the emergency services available in your host country during a catastrophic event.
However, you can – and should – obtain a layer of protection conveniently and affordably with a travel insurance plan. And yes, most travel insurance plans cover natural disasters as well, making it even more compelling to get one for your holiday.
Let’s take a closer look at how travel insurance plans work in the event of a natural disaster.
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When a natural disaster happens before your trip
Travel insurance can help if a natural disaster occurs before your trip that creates disruptions to your travel plans.
One example would be a wildfire damaging the hotel you have booked for your Australian holiday, rendering it inhospitable. You can make a claim under trip disruption or curtailment benefits to offset your hotel booking.
Similarly, if a snowstorm forces airports in your destination to be shut down, forcing you to cancel your trip, you can claim against your travel policy for the cost of non-refundable plane tickets or accommodations.
When a natural disaster happens during your trip
Should a natural disaster take place in the middle of your trip, your travel insurance plan can offer some protection.
In this case, it is the personal accident and overseas medical benefits that will come into play. If you suffer smoke inhalation because the volcano in your villa’s backyard erupted and requires medical treatment, you will be able to claim your medical bill against your travel policy.
While being evacuated away from the volcano, you were forced to leave behind your laptop and other personal belongings. Travel insurance plans include benefits for lost baggage or belongings, which can be used to cover your losses.
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What travel insurance may not cover
Travel insurance policies specifically exclude damage or injury caused by nuclear radiation, and may do so even if the exposure was a result of a natural disaster.
For instance, if an earthquake damages a nearby nuclear power plant, exposing you to nuclear contamination, your policy may not cover your claims.
War or riots
The personal accident benefits in your travel plan may not apply if your injury came about as a result of a war, riot or civil disorder.
However, there is usually some wiggle room, in the sense that if you are an innocent bystander that happened to get caught up in a clash between rioters and security forces, your insurance coverage is likely to remain intact.
Still, you should actively avoid going near any areas where such events are taking place, or try your best to seek shelter and stay out of the way.
Some other things to note
It bears repeating that just because your travel policy offers coverage against natural disasters and other catastrophes doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the (hurricane-force) wind.
As with all insurance policies, your claims may be voided if your injuries or losses came about because you were negligent or reckless – such as by, uh, standing behind a jet plane as it takes off.
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Adhere to the following to ensure your travel coverage remains intact.
Heed travel advisories
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishes travel advisories in situations that would pose danger or hazards to travellers, such as this latest one, warning against travelling to Ukraine and Russia.
If a travel advisory has been issued for the country you are planning to visit, and you go ahead with your trip, your insurer has the right to void your coverage and reject all your claims.
Hence, you should always keep tabs on any such travel advisories, and if one has been issued, weigh carefully if you want to roll the dice with your insurer.
Purchase your travel insurance early
Remember when COVID-19 first started rampaging around the world, and airlines refused to issue refunds for tickets that could no longer be used?
While that was an unexpected event that caught many by surprise, it illustrates the importance of purchasing your travel insurance early.
Be aware that your insurer may not accept your claims if your policy was bought after the natural disaster was made known.
So, for example, say, a volcano erupted in Bali, forcing flights to be suspended. You purchase a travel plan after the eruption to claim for the cost of your air tickets. Nice try, but it won’t work – your insurer will simply void your claims.
You will only be able to make a claim if your travel plan had been bought before the event, so if your trip is confirmed, it’s better to get your travel plan earlier rather than later.
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Minimise your exposure to risks
A holiday is the perfect opportunity to cut loose and let your hair down, but you’ll still want to keep a lid on things.
If your insurer deems you as having failed to take reasonable steps to protect yourself and minimise risks, your claims will be voided.
So for example, if you get smacked by a flying door because you insisted on filming the hurricane up close, your insurer can – and likely will – deny your medical claims.
Same goes for injuries or losses suffered because you were too drunk or high to take reasonable steps to protect yourself or avoid harm, so don’t party too hard, kids.
Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.
Note: This is only product information provided. You may wish to seek advice from a qualified adviser before buying the product. If you choose not to seek advice from a qualified adviser, you should consider whether the product is suitable for you. Buying an insurance product that are not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance your future healthcare needs.
If you decide that the policy is not suitable after purchasing the policy, you may terminate the policy in accordance with the free-look provision, if any, and the insurer may recover from you any expense incurred by the insurer in underwriting the policy.