Date published: 1 August 2015
Are you planning to travel to Bali over the next few months?
If you bought travel insurance before 2/5/15 consider yourself lucky.
Most travel insurers will not accept claims related to the Bali ash cloud from customers who bought their policy after July 2nd, and in some cases, July 3rd 2015 (Eastern Standard Time).
However, holiday makers who purchased an insurance policy before the cut-off may be eligible to claim.
It’s important to note that the type of cover you buy makes all the difference. Unlike basic policies, comprehensive policies do provide cancellation cover for unforeseen circumstances.
Natalie Ball, Director, comparetravelinsurance.co.nz says:
“A basic policy does not generally provide cover for travel delays or cancellation. They are often medical only policies and are priced accordingly. However, many standard or comprehensive policies do provide cancellation cover and additional travel expenses incurred as a result of natural disasters.”
Stranded Passengers with Comprehensive Travel Insurance
If you purchased comprehensive travel cover and were affected by the Bali ash cloud you’re in luck. This is generally what travel insurance is for - an unforeseen event. Travellers will be covered for accommodation, travel and meal expenses provided they purchased their policy prior to the insurer’s published cut-off date. The table below outlines the cut-off date for a number of NZ travel insurers:
Cut off dates:
12:01am 3rd July 2015: Amex, DUinsure, HOT, NZ Travel Insurance, Webjet, Worldcare
11:59pm 2nd July 2015: TID
On or before July 3 2015: Covermore
2:00pm 2nd July 2015: 2:00pm 2nd July 2015
No cover: Columbus Direct, 1Cover
For Kiwi travellers stuck in Bali beyond the expiration date of their policy, the event automatically extends their policy until they’re able to get home. Having said that, it’s not an excuse for holidaymakers to splurge at the insurer’s expense. A two week stay at the swanky W Hotel or an upgraded return business class flight is not likely to be paid for. Insurers will cover claims for reasonable and consistent travel expenses.
Travellers that haven’t left
Insured holidaymakers whose travel plans have been affected by the ash cloud have provisions to cancel their trip and claim for out of pocket expenses.
What to expect from your insurer
Depending upon your chosen insurer, most travellers can expect all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses to be reimbursed. The major insurers have set-up dedicated teams to work on the event claim phone lines in order to separate these calls from the ‘business as usual’ calls so that customer calls are responded to as quickly as possible.
Travellers can find more information in relation to flight interruptions in and out of Denpasar, Bali from specific carriers below:
Air New Zealand
At the time of writing, 400 New Zealanders were stranded in Bali with insurers expecting up to 5,000 claims for additional accommodation and other expenses.
Studies have shown that up to 40 per cent of travellers do not have travel insurance. Tourists without travel cover are facing considerable out-of-pocket expenses due to the ash cloud crisis.
Natalie Ball adds:
“When it comes to unforeseen events, a comprehensive policy should cover you, but only if you purchased your policy before the event occurred. That’s why we always advice travellers to buy travel insurance sooner rather than later.”
Damage control in Bali
Found yourself grounded in Bali? With Mount Raung continuing to erupt, the backlog of delayed flights only continues to grow, leaving tourists in limbo. With additional food and accommodation bills mounting, tourists can see their travel budgets rapidly diminish. So how can travellers try to salvage their holiday savings?
Natalie Ball says: “Our advice would be to keep any additional expenses to a minimum and hang on to your receipts. If you haven’t bought travel insurance we would strongly advise you to do so in the future. As we always say, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”
What to know before making a claim:
- Get in touch with your airline carrier: Before you cancel flights and/or book new tickets it is important you speak to your airline, and check with them what arrangements they can make.
- Contact your insurer: Before you go ahead and pay for any extra accommodation or new flights check in with your insurer that they will cover these added costs.
- Get it down on paper: If you’re the victim of flight cancellation or delay be sure to get any written proof of such events from your airline.
- Keep receipts: Your insurer will need some type of proof of payment in order to pay out your claim. Hold on to any boarding passes, receipts or credit card statements
Whether you’re a vacation veteran or a first time flyer, a natural disaster like the Bali ash cloud can cause a flurry of frustration. Whilst you can’t always plan for the unexpected, a good understanding of your travel policy can help to smooth over any holiday hurdles.