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Volcanic ash travel insurance

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?

Patrick Ikhena
From the Travel team
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Posted 9 DECEMBER 2019

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.


On 7 September 2020, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated the list of countries that are exempt from its ongoing advice against all non-essential international travel.

If you choose to travel overseas to a destination where the FCDO is advising against non-essential travel at the time of your departure, then your insurance policy will be invalid, and any claim likely to be rejected.

For domestic travel, please check the local public health rules for the destination you wish to travel to within the United Kingdom.

For more information, please see our coronavirus and travel insurance page.

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 under EU law. Their priority should be to find you a seat on a new flight so that you can travel as early as possible.

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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