A number of countries in Europe have experienced devastation as a result of wildfires caused by searing temperatures leaving many UK travellers wondering where they stand and whether they are covered if they decide to travel to areas that have been impacted. Travel insurance is an insurance policy designed to protect you against unexpected events or costs that may occur while you are away. You are also likely to be covered for any emergency medical treatment that you may need, but are you covered in relation to extreme events such as wildfires?
In this article, we look at whether you can claim on your travel insurance policy for wildfires, what to do if you are affected by a wildfire and how to get cover for unexpected events in the future.
Does travel insurance cover wildfires?
Cover for natural events such as wildfires can vary between travel providers and you will need to ensure you check your travel insurance policy documents carefully to see exactly what you are and are not covered for. Staysure travel insurance, for example, may cover wildfires if you have travel disruption included in your policy which is offered as standard when you purchase a Staysure Signature policy or with the travel disruption add-on for Staysure Comprehensive and Basic policies. The travel disruption add-on offers some cover for missed departures/connections, cancelled or delayed public transport and travel delays due to adverse weather.
Alternatively, Admiral travel insurance says it may be able to offer cover for lost or destroyed belongings, flight delays or missed departures but the exact cover will depend on your policy type and when the policy was bought.
Additionally, travel insurance only aims to cover irrecoverable losses and so if you are able to receive compensation from your holiday provider or card provider first you may not be covered by your travel insurance policy. It is also worth reading your policy documents and contacting your provider to find out if you are covered before attempting to make a claim.
Travel insurance covers unforeseen events and therefore if you bought your policy after the wildfires started, it is unlikely that you will be covered.
What to do if you’ve booked a destination that is experiencing wildfires
If you have booked a holiday to a destination where there is a wildfire you will need to contact your tour operator separately for any travel disruption and guidance on whether it is safe to travel. It is also advisable to check the FCDO website which provides information on whether it is safe to travel to destinations abroad. It is unlikely that your travel insurance will cover you if you decide that you do not want to travel to an area affected by a wildfire especially if the FCDO has not advised against travel to the destination. In this instance, speaking to your travel operator may mean you can move your holiday fee-free or even cancel it altogether.
Travel advice regarding wildfires (TUI & easyJet)
|Travel Provider||Latest travel advice|
|TUI||Customers travelling to Rhodes up to and including 30th July are being offered "fee-free amends to another holiday that’s available or the option to cancel for a full refund for those customers due to travel up to and including 30th July for all areas of Rhodes including the North of Rhodes."
Customers travelling to the South of Rhodes have the "option to amend fee-free or cancel with a full refund up to and including 11th August. Customers travelling to hotels in the South of the island between the 12th and 21st August can amend fee-free."
TUI has also said it will contact any customers whose hotel is no longer operational however, it is possible to contact TUI directly on 0203 451 2688 or to discuss your options by visiting a TUI store.
|easyJet (Flight only customers)||easyJet has said that it is still currently operating flights to Rhodes as normal but all customers should regularly check the app for up-to-date flight status information.
However, easyJet says that "Any easyJet flight only customers who are booked to travel to or from Rhodes until 29 July can transfer for free to another date or can request a flight voucher for the value of their unused flights, by calling easyJet Customer Services."
|easyJet (Package holiday customers)||Those that have booked a package holiday with easyJet and were due to travel to certain parts of Greece have been contacted regarding cancellations and disruption.
If the holiday is due to commence in the coming weeks affected customers should have received an email outlining the available options. If the holiday was cancelled by easyJet before the departure date customers will receive a full refund within 14 days.
Those that were brought back to the UK sooner than expected will receive a pro-rata refund for the missed hotel stay days.
As you can see, in these instances it is likely that travel operators will offer compensation as a result of your affected holiday and it is unlikely that you will need to make a claim on your travel insurance policy. Travel insurance tends to be for irrecoverable losses and may be worth contacting if you are having trouble getting your money back from the travel or tour operator.
Can you claim on travel insurance for wildfires?
If you have had emergency medical treatment as a result of wildfires, it is likely that your travel insurance company will cover you for medical-related claims as usual however it is worth double-checking your policy documents to ensure your level of cover. If you have experienced disruption or are unable to travel due to wildfires, the amount of cover is likely to vary depending on your individual travel insurance provider and the type of policy that you have selected.
In most cases, you will need to contact your holiday provider or tour operator first before making a claim on your travel insurance as travel insurance only covers unexpected and irrecoverable losses which means other avenues will need to be explored first. When you bought your travel insurance policy can also affect your cover, especially if the wildfires were known to you before you purchased your travel insurance policy.
How to buy travel insurance that includes wildfire cover
The quickest and easiest way to purchase a travel insurance policy is via a comparison site such as Compare the Market* or MoneySuperMarket*. This is because you can compare a number of policies at once to find the best deal for your circumstances. Our article, '5 ways to save money on travel insurance' has a number of tips on ways to save money when purchasing a travel insurance policy.
It is unlikely that cover for natural events such as wildfires will be highlighted in the initial comparison and you will therefore need to read the policy documents carefully to see if you are covered for travel disruption or natural disaster. Having this cover on your policy, however, does not always mean that you will be covered in the event of a claim and it is likely you will need to contact your travel or tour operator first.
It is worth noting that not all comparison sites are whole of market and so may not offer you the best deal on the market. Some travel insurance providers, such as Direct Line do not feature on travel comparison sites and so you would need to compare a quote with them directly. We summarise some of the best travel insurance providers on the market in our article, 'Best travel insurance in the UK'.
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