By Marcus Leach
With the volcanic ash cloud from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland threatening to cause travel disruption for air travellers the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is advising travellers who could be affected to take the following steps.
. Contact your airline, travel agent or airport you are due to fly from for the latest information about travel arrangements. If your flight is cancelled airlines should offer you either a full refund of your unused ticket or an alternative flight. EU based airlines are required to offer you accommodation and meals if you are delayed in getting home to the UK.
. If your flight is cancelled and you do not travel, insurers will refund your premium if you took out single trip travel insurance. If you arrange an alternative flight at a later date, your travel insurer should be able to change your policy to cover this.
. Following the ash cloud disruption in April 2010, it has been possible to buy travel insurance that specifically covers cancellation, delay and curtailment due to ash cloud disruption. Check your policy for the terms and conditions.
. Check your travel insurance policy for any cover that may be available. While volcanic ash is not a specific risk in most policies, some may cover delay and any subsequent abandonment. Your travel insurer can advise. .
. Payment for any delay, whether outward or return, is usually a fixed sum for a specified period up to a maximum amount. Some policies may pay a lump sum if the delay is over a certain time (typically 24 hours), and you are forced to abandon your trip.
. Where your travel policy covers ash disruption then you will be covered for this latest eruption, provided that you took the policy out before this latest eruption could have been reasonably foreseen. Check with your insurer on this and any initial periods when cover may be limited.
Nick Starling, the ABI's Director of General Insurance and Health, said:
"Travel insurance is designed to work alongside, and not duplicate, any compensation you are entitled to from your airline or tour operator. Following the unprecedented disruption to air travel last year from volcanic ash, insurers paid out £70 million to policyholders, in many cases as a goodwill gesture. In response to public concern, some insurers now offer specific insurance against cancellation, delay and abandonment due to volcanic ash disruption. This can be taken out as an add-on to some travel insurance policies or as stand-alone cover."