Here in Singapore, our idea of a natural disaster is “ponding”. But if you frequently travel to places like Japan, Taiwan or Bali, which are located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, you might already have experienced your first earthquake or even freaked out about an impending volcanic eruption.
When travelling to such places, you want to make sure your travel insurance policy covers you in the event that your trip gets affected by natural disasters. Here’s what you need to know.
5 best travel insurance policies that cover natural disasters
|Travel insurance policy||Coverage for natural disaster||Premium for one week in Japan|
|NTUC Income Classic||Trip cancellation, trip postponement, shortening trip, trip disruption||$28.20|
|FWD Premium||Trip cancellation and loss of deposit, trip postponement||$27|
|HL Assurance Travel Protect360 Basic||Loss of deposit or cancellation of trip, trip curtailment, travel delay, travel postponement (if a travel alert is issued by the MFA or MOH as a result of the natural disaster)||$24|
|MSIG TravelEasy Standard||Travel cancellation, travel postponement, delayed departure, flight diversion, shortening the trip, travel disruption, unused entertainment ticket||$25.60|
|Etiqa ePROTECT Travel Insurance||Trip cancellation and loss of deposit, trip curtailment, travel delay, flight diversion, flight travel postponement, flight delay, personal effects including laptop computer, loss of travel document||$18.74|
What natural disasters are covered by travel insurance?
Travel insurers generally define natural disasters as any event or force of nature which has catastrophic consequences on the environment, finances or human life.
Most types of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, typhoons, tsunamis, hurricanes and so on can fall under this category if they are serious enough. If you feel light tremors causing no damage, you’re unlikely to be able to make a claim.
Do note, however, that many insurers might have exclusions on certain things such as exposure to nuclear risks or radiation, which would have been detrimental in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, for instance.
The most important thing to note is that most insurers will NOT offer coverage for any changes or cancellations to your trip that arise from natural disasters of which you were already forewarned (such as on government websites or in the mainstream news) before booking the trip or buying the travel insurance policy.
So if you have already read in the news that a volcano is about to erupt in a certain destination and you go ahead and book a trip there anyway, you are unlikely to get reimbursed for your travel expenses if you end up having to cancel your trip because of an eruption.
What are the best insurance policies that cover natural disasters?
While most good travel insurance policies should cover you for basic events such as trip cancellation, MSIG TravelEasy stands out as one of the most comprehensive in this area. They not only offer coverage for cancellation or changes to your trip due to natural disasters, but also some added perks.
For instance, it offers coverage for unused entertainment tickets, which can come in handy if an impending earthquake forces you to skip that trip to Tokyo Disneyland.
Etiqa’s ePROTECT Travel Insurance plan also deserves an honourable mention thanks to the broad range of categories for which you can make claims in the event of a natural disaster, and for explicitly specifying that damage or loss of belongings or travel documents due to a natural disaster will be covered.
What should you do when you face an earthquake, typhoon, tsunami, or flood?
Typically, a travel insurance policy should pay for additional travel and accommodation expenses incurred after the commencement of your journey should you face a natural disaster in the country you’re travelling to.
You might have to make a claim under trip postponement or trip disruption.
However, it is always a good idea to check ahead of time how your travel insurance policy defines natural disasters, just in case they limit their claims to specific ones such as typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis. All the insurers on this list have a broader definition of natural disasters, but you should not assume that is always the case, especially if you’re buying travel insurance from an airline.
If you find yourself in the midst of a natural disaster (choy!), contact your insurer as soon as possible, and preferably before incurring additional expenses like hotel bookings. They will advise you on the documentation you need to provide in order to make a claim, which might include receipts or police reports.
Have you ever experienced a natural disaster while travelling? Share your stories in the comments!