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Travel insurance: When a cyclone forces changes to your travel plans

Travel insurance: When a cyclone forces changes to your travel plans
By John Grant The recent cyclones that have hit Fiji and the Solomon Islands raise hard questions about how travel insurance works in such disasters. The key questions are;
  1. Once my travel has commenced, will reimbursement apply if the trip is curtailed or additional costs are incurred?
  2. If trip has not yet commenced and is canceled will reimbursement for loss of deposits apply?
  3. If I disregard advice not to go, can a claim for additional costs be made?
As always there are plenty of ifs-and-buts. However, in general terms travel insurance is designed to reimburse you for unexpected losses arising from an unforeseen event. Therefore provided the event was unexpected at the time you purchased the policy there is every likelihood you will be able to claim. There are many travellers currently in countries hit by cyclones and earthquakes and their holiday plans are bound to have been significantly disrupted. Craig Morrison, the chief executive of Southern Cross Travel had this advice for anyone travelling with one of their policies in relation to the Fiji cyclone.
  1. If the Travel Policy was purchased prior to Saturday 13th March 2010, and travel is planned within five days from this date, there is provision to claim under Section 2 of the policy, Cancellation or Changes to Planned Journey. As the cyclone was first advised on 13 March, then for those who purchased their insurance after that date, there is no cover as the event is not considered to be Unexpected under the policy.
  2. For those who had travel booked between now and 18 March then a claim for reimbursement for loss of deposits and other cancellation charges should apply. The end-date of 18 March is reviewed daily by Southern Cross taking into account current conditions.
If  your cover was issued by another provider, or you are in another travel-disrupted region, then there is every chance that similar policy conditions apply. In recent weeks we have seen major events happen around the world causing disruption to the travel plans of many people. In most instances those who had taken out a policy before the event happened, whether travel had commenced or not, would be entitled to claim under the Cancellation section of the policy.

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