Volcanic ash travel insurance

In 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused havoc across Europe, as thousands of flights were cancelled, leaving people stranded or unable to go on holiday.

Since then, travellers have been stuck in countries like Bali, Hawaii and Indonesia following eruptions.

So what should you look for if you want a buy a travel insurance policy that covers volcanic ash?

In 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused havoc across Europe, as thousands of flights were cancelled, leaving people stranded or unable to go on holiday.

Since then, travellers have been stuck in countries like Bali, Hawaii and Indonesia following eruptions.

So what should you look for if you want a buy a travel insurance policy that covers volcanic ash?

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
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Posted 27 JANUARY 2021

Will I be covered for volcanic ash disruption?

Volcanic ash travel insurance offers cover to anyone who suffers from a cancelled or delayed flight in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. It isn’t a policy in its own right, but it’s something that can be included in your cover – although it’s likely that you won’t get this as standard.

If you already have travel insurance, for example an annual policy, check the small print for any mention of ‘travel disruption cover or natural catastrophe cover’ or extreme weather events. Can’t find it? Talk to your insurance provider and find out what their stance is. Some providers will insure such events, typically for a modest additional premium.

Natural catastrophes normally include: volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, tornados and wildfires.


A travel traffic light system has been introduced for international travel. From 19 July 2021, trips to green and amber listed countries are legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. However, you’ll still need to fulfil any pre-departure requirements, such as testing. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant local authority.

If a country is on the green or amber list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you’re aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and to check travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed at short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice for the latest information.

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to red listed countries. Should you choose to travel against the FCDO rules, you will not be covered by any travel insurance policy you purchase. Some providers do offer cover for international travel if you’re travelling for essential purposes, however most do not. In all cases, should you have any queries please check the policy wording or contact your chosen provider before purchasing to ensure the cover meets your needs.

Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Find out more here

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

Our panel includes insurance providers who quote cover for all medical conditions declared on our website, with no exclusions.

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) has launched a directory of insurance providers on its Money Advice Service website that may be able to provide quotes over the phone, if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service or by calling the British Insurance Brokers’ Association on 0370 950 1790.

What should I do if there is volcanic ash disruption?

If you're planning to travel somewhere where there's ash cloud disruption and your travel operator allows you to make alternative travel arrangements, your travel insurance can usually be transferred to cover the new destination.

The first thing to do when claiming costs in the event of any disruption is to contact your airline or tour operator.

If you’ve booked on a package deal, tour operators must refund your costs if they cancel your trip.

If your flights are cancelled or flights/connections missed, the airline must rebook you on alternative flights. Their priority should be to find you a seat on a new flight so that you can travel as early as possible.

After Brexit, and the UK officially left the EU, new rules were brought in to cover the gaps left behind in UK legislation. This means you’ll still have the right to compensation if your flight was between the UK and EU (no matter the airline), or any flight operated by a UK-based airline. Depending on the extent of the disruption you suffered, the amount you could get in compensation can vary.

If airspace is closed, the airline should provide hotel accommodation, meals and refreshments until a new flight is provided. They’ll usually give you a daily allowance for the extras.

If you organise your own travel or hotel stays, you can apply to the airline for a refund on your return. Be careful with the costs and keep your receipts though, as airlines won’t pay amounts they consider unreasonable.

Do I get a refund and/or compensation if my flight is cancelled?

It can be disheartening to see ‘cancelled’ next to your flight number at the start of your holiday. If that happens, your rights are similar to those in the event your flight is delayed.

You can either claim a full refund or accept an alternative flight. If you choose to wait for another flight, you’ll have the same entitlements to food, drink and accomodation as outlined above.

You have the right to claim compensation from the airline if a replacement flight delays your journey by two or more hours. The amount of compensation will depend on the distance of the flight and when it was cancelled.

Travel smart and buy travel insurance

Getting to your destination should hopefully be plain sailing. However, if things go wrong travel insurance can give you financial protection.

If you book a package holiday, you should be protected under the ATOL scheme if your holiday provider goes bust. But if you’re travelling independently, you’ll need to buy insurance that providers cover against ‘end supplier failure’. This will pay out if, for example, your hotel goes out of business.

Having travel cover also means you have financial protection against the cost of medical care, theft, and other risks.

It’s a good idea to take out travel insurance when you book your holiday. This should cover the cost of your holiday should you need to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, such as bereavement.

Travel policies vary so make sure you check your cover to find out what it includes. We make it easy to compare travel insurance from some of the market’s leading providers.

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