An ash cloud could be on the horizon after Iceland warned of an impending volcanic eruption
Volcanic ash cloud – am I covered?
Thousands of European flights could be cancelled as Iceland’s largest volcano looks set to erupt—potentially creating another ash cloud. The Icelandic Met Office raised the risk level for an eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano to orange, the second-highest level on a scale of five. The news follows a movement inside the volcano after an earthquake last Monday August 18, the strongest in almost 20 years. Following the quake, between 300 and 500 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the mountain last week as a precaution.
Now airlines have been warned of possible disruption due to a volcanic eruption and the resulting ash cloud, which could threaten the end of the holiday season. Four years ago, a different eruption from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano shut down most of Europe’s airspace for six days—leading to 100,000 flights being cancelled. This left around 10 million passengers delayed or stranded worldwide and cost the airline industry billions. But an ash cloud this time round will depend on how high the ash is thrown, how much ash there is, how fine grained it is and the direction of the wind.
Am I covered if my flight is cancelled due to an ash cloud?
If you have purchased our Travel Disruption Extension (TDE) before Tuesday August 19, you can claim up to £1,000 for lost travel and accommodation costs—including flights. However, your flights must have been cancelled. Customers must contact their tour operator or airline first, as we provide cover for costs over and above those met by the airline, tour operator or travel company. For more information you can read our policy wording document containing the TDE information and guidelines (page 46).
What happens if I didn’t buy Travel Disruption Extension with my policy?
Unfortunately, if you haven’t bought the TDE upgrade, then you won’t be able to claim for travel disruption, cancellation or curtailment as a result of any ash cloud. Customers should speak to their airline or tour operator, as they may be offered alternative travel dates/different destination if the volcano erupts and causes an ash cloud. In this instance we will be able to amend customers’ travel insurance policies, but an additional premium and administration fee may be applied depending on the changes made.
Can I buy the Travel Disruption Extension today?
Any customers buying the TDE today will not be able to claim if the Bardarbunga volcano erupts, as we are aware of an imminent eruption and it has been widely publicised in the media. However, the TDE is worth buying to protect you against a number of natural disasters. For example, it will provide up to £1,000 in additional cover per person against travel disruption caused by fire, flood, earthquake, explosion, tsunami, landslide, avalanche, volcanic eruption, hurricane, storm, an outbreak of food poisoning or an infectious disease affecting your accommodation or resort.
Why can’t planes fly through the ash?
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, aircraft engines can be damaged by ash, causing them to sputter or even shut down completely.
If you want more information about your Staysure policy with regards to the potential ash cloud, you can phone our friendly customer services team on 0333 014 4512.
Note: Our policies have been updated since this story was published.