Over 27,000 residents of Ventura and Santa Paula were evacuated from their homes after wildfires spread across Southern California. Firefighters worked through the night to tackle the blaze, which is thought to have destroyed 45,500 acres of land and 150 buildings.

Residents, with health conditions, in the two affected cities and surrounding areas including Los Angeles have been advised by the authorities to stay inside as the smoke continues to spread. As of yet, the fire has not been contained and over 1,000 firefighters are working to tame the blaze, however high winds are causing difficulties.

Wildfires are not uncommon in California but as they arise with little or no warning and spread incredibly quickly, it is not always easy to prepare for such an event. Earlier this year wildfires in the wine region of Northern California destroyed over 10,000 buildings and at least 40 people are thought to have lost their lives.

As we approach the Christmas period, travellers looking to head to California for a festive holiday or to visit family should be aware that travel insurance may not cover them for cancellation or, for those that are already out there, to come home early.

Wildfires and other climatic conditions are termed as Force Majeure under a travel insurance policy and is generally not covered as standard. If you have purchased a policy which does cover for Force Majeure and your accommodation or flight has been affected by the wildfires you may be entitled to claim for cancellation. However, it is worth noting you will not be covered due to disinclination to travel.

Those who have already travelled are unlikely to be covered to come home early (curtailment) due to the wildfire unless it is medically necessary.

Holidaymakers who are looking to travel to the area should be aware that any travel insurance policies purchased after the wildfire broke out will not offer force majeure cover as the event has already taken place.