Volcanic ash disruption could continue for months

18 May 2010

Holidaymakers could potentially expect flight disruption for months to come as the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland continues to cause havoc to air travel.

The last time the volcano under Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted, it lasted over a year. However, wind and weather patterns could aid in the dispersion of the ash meaning the effects may only last for days at a time.

The severity of the disruption will also depend on whether the larger Katla volcano nearby will be triggered to erupt by its smaller brother.

Since the volcano first erupted in April, thousands of flights have been delayed or cancelled due to fears that ash could turn into molten glass within a hot jet engine and cripple the aircraft.

Currently no UK airports are closed, after the ash cloud moved out of UK airspace, although knock-on disruption continues. 

However, travellers about to fly are still advised to contact their airline to check for delays.

People who were affected by the disruptions last month should contact their insurer to see whether they are covered. Policy details will differ from provider to provider, with some insurers paying out, while others won’t.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that while a volcanic eruption is not a specific event covered in insurance policies, some cover for delay and travel abandonment may be available, depending on the level of cover purchased by the policyholder and the terms and conditions.

“This will vary as there is no standard travel insurance policy,” says Nick Starling, director of general insurance and health at the ABI.

“Payment for delay, whether outward or return, is usually a fixed amount per delayed period up to a maximum figure, not an open-ended sum.”

Who will pay out?

One that will is Direct Travel Insurance, which has confirmed it will cover claims from customers who are either stranded abroad or can’t travel due to the volcanic ash.

This means customers will be able to make a claim for travel delay, abandonment or missed departure.

Direct Line, Fortis, and Saga have also said they will cover policyholders for delay, missed departure and cancellation. However, most travel insurance firms will only cover customers for cancellation or trip abandonment once their flight has been delayed for at least 24 hours.

HSBC, M&S Money and First Direct have all confirmed that, although claims relating to volcanic eruptions are not usually covered by travel insurance policies, they will consider claims in the current circumstances.

Lloyds Banking Group has also confirmed it will support all those customers currently abroad who have one of its travel policies or who are eligible for travel cover through its Silver, Gold, Platinum or Premier current accounts.


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