When Volcanic Eruptions Cause Vacation Interruptions
Six years ago last week, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull Volcano erupted with an explosive release that spewed one heck of a volcanic ash cloud over Northern and Central Europe. As a result, many flights were canceled for days as the cloud moved across Europe. Thousands of travelers were stranded because of canceled flights.
We’re all more used to delays caused by weather, strikes and mechanical problems. But now a volcano creating havoc across the world? As Jodie Sweetin would have said back in her “Stephanie Tanner” days on Full House (long before she was Dancing with the Stars), “How rude!”
Travel insurance companies dealt with calls and claims – which ones included coverage for cancellations and delays due to natural disasters and what did they define as a natural disaster. In some cases, the knee-jerk thought for a claim was “weather,” but that wasn’t accurate.
Ultimately, all of the insurance companies that Connie George Travel Associates uses responded with assistance to travelers if needed and covered claims for lost arrangements such as tours, cruises and hotels missed by travelers who couldn’t arrive in time. In fact, I just came across to Travel Guard’s press release which shortly followed the eruption.
I’ve been in the travel industry for a long time, but that was the first significant instance of a volcano being this disruptive to travelers. And while it still remains the one with the most widespread and longest effect on travel, there have been other eruptions around the world which have wreaked havoc on travelers (not to mention those who live in those areas!)
Only a year after Eyjafjallajokull, my office was again grateful that a traveler could file an insurance claim because a volcano got in the way of their vacation. This time it was personal for one of our agents.
Vicki from our office, along with her husband were already one flight leg into getting to Buenos Aires to join a group on their long-awaited “End of the Earth” tour of Patagonia with G Adventures. Imagine their disappointment when they learned that their next flight to Buenos Aires was canceled because of a volcano erupting in Chile. Volcanic ash strikes again!
Although they were flying in ahead of the tour, it didn’t look like their airline was going to get them there in time. The had to give up their trip…. But not without incurring additional transportation, hotel and meal costs before this disappointed couple headed back home to deal with the airline and insurance company. Claims for airfare, transportation, lost tour, hotels and meals were turned in. With a combination of a refund and advocacy, Travel Guard enabled them to not lose their vacation investment. Instead, they were able to use the money to successfully hike, bike, climb and boat their way through the southern tip of South America on the same tour previously scheduled.
Travel insurance wasn’t able to save the original trips by whisking away clouds of ash. But it was able to reimburse funds so they could be used to later fill those dreams, create those experiences and build those memories.
The keys are “expect the unexpected” and to be as prepared as possible.