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Natural disasters and your travel insurance: How are you covered?

A picture of dog trainer and behaviourist Philippa Short

When you’re exploring new destinations and experiencing new cultures, the last thing you expect to deal with is earthquakes, wildfires or volcanic ash. In this situation, it can be frightening, especially if you’re somewhere unfamiliar.

But this is where your travel insurance can help.

Here, you can find out how you’ll be covered for natural disasters with Wapp, what happens if you need to be evacuated and where you can get more advice.

Tropical storm cloud formation over water, viewed from outer space

What counts as a natural disaster for travel insurance?

Natural disasters are called ‘catastrophes’ in our policy documents. These can include:

  • Avalanches
  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Landslides
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanic activity
  • Wildfires or bushfires

What isn’t covered?

Some things can’t be covered by your travel insurance, including:

  • Natural disasters that you knew about before you booked your trip
  • Any travel fares covered by air miles
  • Claims related to Covid-19 or any other pandemic/epidemic

You’ll find details of what is and isn’t covered in your policy documents, and if you haven’t bought cover yet, the latest policy wording is usually found on the insurers website.

Does travel insurance cover natural disasters?

You can get travel cover for natural disasters, but it normally depends on your policy levels. If your travel insurance does offer cover, then you’ll usually be able to claim for travel disruption, delays and cancellations.

So, let’s say you’re on holiday when a hurricane hits, which leads to your flight home getting cancelled. If you have to stay at your hotel, but your travel provider hasn’t been able to help, your travel insurance could cover the cost of the extra days. You’ll need to speak to your travel provider first to see what help they can give.

You could also be covered for things like:

  • Hotel or travel costs if your stay is cut short because of public transport delays
  • Getting you home if you’re evacuated

Can I get natural disaster cover with my Wapp policy?

If you have a Wapp policy, you’ll need to add on the Travel Disruption Extension. This means you’ll get cover for costs caused by delays and disruptions if there’s a natural disaster.

To add this level of cover to your policy, simply head over to the app, and if you’re happy with the cost, just tap to turn it on. That’s all there is to it.

How can I tell if it’s safe to travel?

The FCDO – Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office is a government department that gives advice on where it is safe to travel. The FCDO website is updated with the latest travel news, including countries that are safe (or not) to travel to. If the FCDO warn against travelling to a certain country, then it’s unlikely your travel insurance policy will cover you.

If your flight gets cancelled, your airline will be able to let you know if this was because of a natural disaster.

It’s also a good idea to check the weather channels before you head off, so you can see if there’s any chance of extreme weather… Better to be safe than sorry!

Passengers with luggage while waiting in a line for boarding at an airport

What happens if I get stranded abroad?

If you’re stuck and not sure where to turn, don’t panic. Get in touch with your airline to see what they can do. If your flight is cancelled because of a natural disaster, then you’ll be offered replacement travel or a refund. It’s the law.

If your next flight is a few days away, your airline should help with accommodation, food and drink. Your travel cover could also help cover the cost of travel delays.

If this isn’t an option, you can also speak to your local British embassy to see how they can help.

What to do to stay safe if a natural disaster happens

When staying in a country where natural disasters could happen, it’s smart to read up on what steps to take to keep you safe.

You’ll find that most hotels or apartments have information readily available for you to read, like evacuation routes if you’re in a hurricane prone area.

Some basic things to remember are:

  • For floods and tsunamis, try and head to high ground
  • For earthquakes, stay outside away from buildings
  • For wildfires and volcano eruptions, evacuate the area and try to cover your mouth and nose

If something does happen, try not to panic. Local emergency services are always there to lend a helping hand and guide you on how to stay safe.

If you ever need to evacuate, try to grab your passport if possible, but remember, your safety always comes first.

Where can I get more advice on what to do if there’s a natural disaster?

There are lots of websites out there that can help if you find yourself stuck or unsure where to go next. Keep these saved in your notes or bookmarked on your phone, they may come in handy:

FCDO – You can subscribe to updates and email alerts about the latest travel advice and information from the FCDO website.

ABTA – The Association of British Travel Agents is a financial protection scheme. You can use their website to check if your travel provider or tour operator is a member. This way, if you need more help, you can contact them for advice.

CAA – The Civil Aviation Authority can give you advice on what to do if your flight gets delayed, cancelled or if you miss it.

British embassy directory – If you’re stuck abroad, you can contact the British embassy to find out if the UK government is running chartered flights to get UK citizens home.

A picture of dog trainer and behaviourist Philippa Short

Mikaela is Wapp's SEO Editor. She loves exploring European cities and has a knack for finding lesser-known spots off the tourist trail. When she's not on her latest adventure, she's sharing tips and tricks for making travelling as stress-free as can be.

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