Most Canadian travel insurance companies have considered the disruption to travel resulting from the volcanoes in Iceland as an event that is covered if the insurance was purchased or in effect before April 14, the start of the volcano eruption. In addition, if travellers were stranded beyond the expiration dates of their policies, coverage is most often being extended until the insured traveller is able to return home, at no additional cost. Generally, this coverage extension will apply to both emergency medical and non-medical provisions.
Clients currently travelling in areas affected by the volcanic eruptions, who have trip interruption coverage, will under most policies have limited coverage for additional accommodation, costs to contact the insurer or assistance company, and meal expenses if they are unable to return to Canada as planned. Some coverages will reimburse the cost of alternate travel arrangements if available. THIA encourages all travellers to contact their insurance or assistance company for specific coverage details, coverage limits and details about how to submit a claim.
Trip cancellation coverage would apply to cancellation or interruption of any non-reimbursable, fully insured and prepaid portion of the trip, including airfares, pending cruises, land tours, hotel stays or other excursions that are beyond the control and stated responsibility of the air carrier or tour operator. In some cases, airlines or tour operators offer vouchers for future travel in lieu of immediate refunds. Many insurers will extend the dates on a policy at no charge.
THIA urges insured traveller's affected by the recent disruptions to contact their insurance company or assistance service to get specific advice about their trip cancellation benefits and help with opening their claim.
Canadians considering future travel to areas impacted by the volcanic eruptions need to be mindful that travel insurance covers unexpected events and the volcanoes in Iceland remain a threat to travel at this time. THIA continues to monitor this situation closely.
Martha Turnbull, president of THIA says that "though all Canadian travel policies that include trip cancellation/interruption benefits are designed to cover unanticipated disruptions to planned travel, individual policies differ and travellers need to know what their specific travel insurance contracts cover and what they exclude. Agents specializing in travel insurance can help travelers in understanding the benefits and limitations of their individual policies. Canadian travel insurers are well equipped to deal with the large number of travelers impacted by this event, answer questions and settle claims."
"In light of the current, and quite unexpected disruption, it's clear that booking travel without purchasing appropriate insurance can result in significant personal financial risk," she says.
About THIA. THIA is Canada's national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. Its website is www.thiaonline.com.