Thousands of tourists are stranded on the Indonesian island of Bali as the airport remains closed for a second day. The popular tourist destination saw the volcano dispensing smoke and ash reaching up to a mile-high early last week and yesterday the likelihood of an eruption was moved to the highest alert level, 4.
Many holidaymakers will be due to head to Bali over the Christmas period and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised; those who are due to fly to Bali or are already in the country should monitor local media reports, follow the advice of the local authorities and stay outside the exclusion zone.
In an attempt to ensure the volcano causes as little damage as possible should it erupt, communities surrounding Mount Agung have been evacuated and the FCO has advised against all travel within 10kms of the volcano. The last eruption of Mount Agung was in 1963 killing 1,600 people.
It is understandable holidaymakers that are stranded in Bali will be feeling frustrated as the airport remains closed and planes grounded, preventing them from returning home. Those who are due to fly to the destination may be considering cancelling their holiday, so here is what you can expect from your travel insurance cover:
If you have purchased a travel insurance policy we recommend you read your policy wording carefully as you may be entitled to claim for cancellation. Many standard policies will not cover for cancellation due to ‘disinclination to travel’ due to the threat of the volcano erupting, however you may be able to claim for cancellation if you have purchased a policy that includes cover for force majeure and your outward journey is delayed by over 24 hours.
Likewise, if the FCO advises against travel to the destination after you purchased your policy you may be entitled to claim for cancellation.
Those who have already travelled and are stranded in Bali should first check what compensation is available from their airline or tour operator; some airlines and tour operators will be responsible for providing accommodation and additional expenses for food until alternative arrangements can be made.
If there is no cover available from your airline or tour operator, your travel insurance may cover for additional accommodation, food expenses and alternative transport provided you have cover for force majeure and the threat of an eruption had not occurred before you travelled. The cost of these expenses should be paid by you and claimed back from your travel insurance company when you return to the UK.
It is also worth noting some policies will cover for prescription medication or baby essentials should you run out and are not able to return home on your planned date.
It’s important you retain any receipts and invoices for additional accommodation, expenses and transport to be used as evidence when claiming.
If you are part way through your holiday and wish to come home early – once transportation is available – your travel insurance is not likely to cover you. In the event of a natural disaster, you should speak to your Tour Operator or local British Consulate office to get advice on whether they’re evacuating tourists.
It is not yet known when the airport it due to re-open but as volcanic ash holds a risk of damaging the plane’s engine and hindering the pilots vision, it is not likely to reopen until the ash has cleared.