Volcanic eruptions: what you need to know

Posted Date: 28 July 2015
Bali volcano

Recent images of volcanic ash and smoke which has grounded planes and disrupted holiday plans in Bali has certainly highlighted one thing - you need to have great delay cover well before you plan to go! In fact the earlier you buy your TravelCare, the better.

What we’ve learned from Bali

Delay cover is often misunderstood, until suddenly one day it’s needed, and you find out first hand what it really means to be stranded!

Many people who travel have never bothered to fully read the finer details nor understand the benefits of great delay cover, because these days our aircraft and travel systems rarely go wrong. But when adverse weather or natural events like eruptions occur, all hell can literally break loose, grounding planes, disrupting travel itineraries and causing unforeseen havoc with holiday plans.

The  recent volcanic eruption in Bali was a particularly timely example, disrupting many family holiday plans and leaving large groups of travellers stranded. Many never even made it to their destination.

This is where the term ‘delay cover’ takes on a whole new meaning, because flight diversions might leave travellers stranded in a city they never intended to visit in the first place. Try landing in a strange city with your family, your bags and no accommodation booking! Not a fun situation. If the city is Paris, the situation could be financially disastrous!


Not all delay cover is as good as it used to be. Many other travel insurers cut their delay cover levels back in 2010 and 2011 when the Iceland and Chile volcanoes caused worldwide travel disruptions and cost them many millions of dollars.

TravelCare from Southern Cross Travel Insurance has retained its impressive delay cover, and is now one of the most comprehensive on the market. We know what it’s like to be stranded in an expensive city with the whole family – so our daily and total claim cover limits are fair and realistic.

It’s important to be a little careful once an event like an eruption has occurred, even if it has died down. It’s not a good idea to plan a holiday to the affected destination because you probably won’t be covered if the eruption flairs up again. For insurance purposes, it will no longer be regarded as an ‘unexpected event’.

What should you do if you get caught out?

At SCTI, we've seen a 47% increase in calls as a result of the volcanic ash cloud in Bali and this is set to rise as travellers land back in the country.

Our advice to travellers who have been impacted by the volcano is to keep all your cancellation notifications from your airline, including emails, along with receipts for your expenses, including accommodation and meals to help with your claim submission.

You also need to check that you bought your travel insurance prior to the eruption starting. At SCTI, all our customers who bought TravelCare travel insurance before 12pm on 2 July 2015 will be covered for up to $30,000 for delays and cancellations. We also automatically extend all policies until you’re able to return home on the next available flight.

There are a few tips we can offer travellers who get stranded or who are delayed by a natural event that prevents them from flying:

  • Explore your options through your airline, as they may offer flights or date changes free of charge
  • Where possible, try to claim unused costs or refunds through the people you booked through or the service provider, such as the airline or hotel
  • Make sure any of your additional expenses, such as the flights and accommodation, are of the same nature and class as you originally purchased - we do not cover upgrades

Of course, we also recommend that you buy your insurance early when you’re travelling because you may not even be able to board the plane if a local natural ‘event’ has occurred at your destination. This is where you need to be covered for cancellation as well.

Our advice – always get great delay cover with TravelCare, and buy it as soon as you have your tickets, so you’re also covered for cancellations.

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