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.
1. Best Travel Insurance for Natural Disasters
|Travel Insurance||Natural Disaster Cover||Premiums (ASEAN)|
|FWD Travel Insurance||Trip cancellation, disruption,||$25 – $44/week|
|NTUC Travel Insurance||Trip cancellation, postponement, shortening, disruption||$61 – $98/week|
|AIG Travel Insurance||Trip cancellation, early return home, damage of travel documents, cruise interruption||$48 – $83/week|
|AXA Travel Insurance||Loss of personal money and travel documents, golf equipment, sports equipment||$34.49 – $80.17/week|
|MSIG Travel Insurance||Travel cancellation, postponement, shortening, disruption, delayed departure, flight diversion, unused entertainment ticket,||$61 – $114/week|
|Singlife with Aviva Travel Insurance||Covers Catastrophic Event, not “natural disasters”. Travel delay||$38.61 – $76.39/week|
|DBS Chubb Travel Insurance||Journey cancellation, travel disruption, delay, flight diversion||$75 – $122/week|
|Sompo Travel Insurance||Trip cancellation, postponement, curtailment, disruption||$52 – $66/week|
|AIA Travel Insurance||Travel cancellation, postponement, loss of travel documents and personal money||$37.30 – $76.65/week|
|Etiqa Travel Insurance||Loss of personal effects including laptop computer, travel document including money, travel postponement||$39 – $72/week|
|Citibank Travel Insurance||Baggage loss, trip cancellation||$50 – $60/week|
|Tokio Marine Travel Insurance||Trip cancellation, postponement, curtailment, interruption, disruption and withdrawal of hotel services, travel delay, alternative travel arrangement, replacement of traveller benefit, loss of frequent flyer points and entertainment tickets||$60 – $78/week|
|AMEX Travel Insurance||Policy extension, loss of personal money and travel documents||$40 – $63/week|
2. Common Natural Disasters 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.
3. What to do during a natural disaster while travelling overseas?
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.
4. Natural Disasters in Bali, Indonesia
In October 2017, Mt. Agung’s geochemical, seismic activity etc flooded the news. Why? Because the Bali volcano was expected to erupt for over a month, and the last eruption in 1963 killed over 1,100 people.
In fact, in October 2017, analysis has highlighted that an approximate 25% of the volcanic materials are similar or larger sized than the 1963 eruption. So, practically everyone’s who’s booked a ticket to Bali was left wondering: Would I get killed in the Mt. Agung eruption if it happens? Should I still travel to Bali? If so, what can I do to protect my safety? Well, here’s what you need to know if you’re travelling to Bali:
- Mt. Agung is far from tourist spots: The Mt Agung volcano is far away from your usual tourist spots, so if you don’t have plans to travel anywhere near the Bali volcano, you can still go ahead with your travel plans. Furthermore, the authorities will clear out people in the danger zone, and will put up red alert exclusion zones where the lava and ash may potentially reach. So, if you’re ever stumbling too near the danger zone, you’ll definitely know.
- Flights will be cancelled. You will be rescheduled by your airline: If the situation gets bad, your airline will cancel their flights to Bali. Flights booked in the “danger period” will likely be rescheduled without any additional fees. Of course, this is subjected to availability and fare differences. Singapore Airlines also allows refunds.
- Airports will be closed. If the Bali volcano eruption actually happens. The Ngurah Rai airport would be shut down because of the ash cloud, in which case you’ll be ferried to other airports at neighbouring islands to take your flight out. Unless the eruption is so widespread that the volcanic particles are affecting the other neighbouring airports too, you’re not going to get stuck.
5. Will my travel insurance cover natural disasters?
If you’re already travelling abroad and found yourself the midst of a natural disaster, here are 3 things to consider before you take your next steps:
- Your travel insurance may not cover natural disasters. Some plans have exclusions that may penalise your coverage (e.g. they do not cover for volcanic activity). To ensure you’re adequately covered, you should check your policy and familiarise yourself with any relevant exclusions.
- Did you book your flights, hotels, travel insurance before the volcano eruption was known via the news? When news of Mt. Agung’s possible eruption becomes public knowledge, it becomes a “known event”. So, basically if you bought your policy before that, and your plan covers such events, then you should be covered for any trip disruptions and cancellations… because there’s no way you’d have known about Mt Agung’s threatening eruption when you booked.
- I booked my travel insurance after a natural disaster was known. I didn’t read the news, and didn’t expect it to be a problem. Now that the natural disaster is a known event, you will definitely not be covered by your travel insurance plan. It’s actually best you could reschedule your flight (if your airline allows) and check if there are any additional fees to pay.
- Call the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to establish that you’re a Singaporean in the country. Ask for emergency contacts in case you need urgent consular assistance and pre-register with the MFA so they can search for you if you go missing in the natural disaster.